Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Biking Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest is the site of the Santos Trailhead, the finest (and my second favorite) grouping of trails of the 120+ I've biked across the country. I biked here yesterday and today for about the tenth time, despite yesterday's drizzle and today's wet surface. This photo below demonstrates some of the beauty of this special area which has been created and is maintained by the Ocala Mountain Bike Association. There must be several dozen trails and 50 miles of trails here and they are still at it, with another mile of new trail developed already in 2011!

But today I was near and ventured into the Vortex area, the place where expert (extreme) riders come to challenge and further develop their biking skills. To get INTO the area, you must prove (qualify) by biking up and over the fence line on this narrow bridge...

I talked with the two young guys who were exiting this area. They are Floridians but this was their first time here at Santos and they were beaming with joy at having discovered it!  When they asked me if I was planning to ride in Vortex I quickly responded with NO!  "I'm 65 and too old for extreme biking and I no longer trust my balance and stamina, but I am going to go in there to check it out!" And this is what I discovered: The area is the floor of a former quarry site where numerous huge moguls in rapid succession have been constructed...

...as well as several jumps from the quarry rim 20 or more feet above down to hill slopes built on the floor.  The tree line above the orange soil has the takeoff (dropoff?) ramp and a search on YouTube will locate some scary footage of riders tackling these jumps...

There are also some expert singletrack trails that take these stalwart bikers up and down the hillsides of the quarry, prominent with rocks and roots and ruts.

Later in my ride I again ran into the two young guys, and as we passed they yelled to me, "We hope we're still mountain biking when we reach 65!" High praise indeed, even if I wimped out and didn't ride any of the obstacles or trails in the Vortex!

Direction to trailheads and downloads of trail maps are available on the OMBA website listed above.

My webpage for the Santos Area.

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