Monday, February 6, 2012

Great Places to Ride Your Bike in Florida

By Patricia J Williams

While avid bikers often think of tricky terrain as the ideal biking destination, Florida has much to offer beginning bikers and experts alike. Consider challenging yourself with muddy terrain, sand, and alligators!

Located not far from Sebring, Sun 'N' Lakes Park boasts five miles of rolling hill country trails perfect for novice bikers and seasoned veterans. Beginners will appreciate some of the nice dry trails while mid-level bikers will enjoy some of the obstacles that keep them from getting bored. And for the experts? Try tackling this terrain after a big rain and enjoy slipping and sliding in the mud! Be sure to pack bug spray, though. The insects can be vicious.

Balm Boyette is a great place for beginners to hone their skills. There are about 16-20 miles of various trails to choose from. Most of them are fairly flat, but with a few technical things like roots, sand, and rocks to make it challenging. The trails are fairly well marked, but it wouldnt hurt to have a map. Dont let the beginner status fool you! Bring plenty of water, because youll be in for quite a workout!

Dyer Park near West Palm Beach has something for everyone. There are several distinctly different trails. The park is located on an old landfill. The first trail is about 3 miles long and goes up and down the hill all the way around it. Its pretty challenging with hairpin turns and steep inclines. The second trail runs around the outer edge of the park, but there are several technical trails that shoot off of it. There are also paved and gravel roads for equestrians. These trails are great for intermediate riders, who can also work on their skills with some of the technical side trails.

If a loop of twists, turns, and technical difficulties-including trees, stumps, roots, leaves, mud, and sand-intrigues you, head over toward Fernandina to tackle the 7-mile trail at Fort Clinch. Plan to bring $5 for admission unless you prefer to park near the beach and come in on your bike. Fort Clinch offers vending machines and has restrooms on the property, as well. Watch for bike trail signs and follow them to ensure you don't get off on the wrong track, because there are some parts of the trail that can be a bit confusing.

Lakeland boasts a 6-mile hard packed track with exciting technical challenges including jumps, finger loops, roller coaster drops, and alligators! Called Carter Road, it was once the location for a phosphate mine, and it creates a complete loop.

Alafia, Florida features a 10-mile loop of fantastic technical and steep riding. The trails are well-maintained, but not always well-marked so you might want to get a map of the area first. There are restrooms nearby and there is a small fee for parking ($2-4). Most bikers in Florida agree, that Alafia is well worth your trip!

Beginning bikers and experienced thrill seekers alike will find some fantastic trails to explore in warm and sunny Florida. Just remember to bring plenty of water so you can stay hydrated. And have fun!

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