63 degrees. Almost full moon. Partly cloudy. No bugs. This is what escaping winter is all about! From the Santos Campground, we can access the Santos MTB trailhead and ride all day, if we wish. The Santos trails stretch for several miles, with many loops and connectors off the main trails for those miles.
Several trailheads allow access, including the one right by the campground. The terrain and the main trails, like Pine Tree, are mostly flat, with curves, roots, rocks and small to medium sized-ledges providing the interest. Pine trees in some stretches provide a thick carpet of what I have dubbed Florida ice – they are slippery. Fast and flowy. The blue trails and loops are much the same, with a few more extreme drops, ledges, climbs, tighter corners and more closely spaced trees. The black and double black have short but very steep rocky rooty and even twisty climbs, hills, narrow ledges, rocks, trees and tight turns with often major consequences for a miss. There is a small skills park at the trailhead, and a larger area off the trails called the Vortex that has many advanced features and structures of varying degrees of difficulty, with many jumps, ramps and wooden structures designed for the fearless, full-faced helmet crew.
The campground is small – only 30 or so sites. The sites have water, electric, a warm shower (only one toilet and shower in the men’s, two in the women’s.) Although the showers are for campers only, and many signs are posted, the riders from the trails do come over to use the shower. It was a problem on Sunday after the Florida State MTB series race, when the line was several deep and the hot water totally exhausted. The restroom is not the cleanest, either. Very busy on weekends. Less so during the week. Trains whistle throughout the day and night from nearby tracks, singing their almost mournful songs – of the past, of where they’ve been and the stories they have seen.
Speaking of the race, Bob decided to jump in pedals first and rev up into racing mode. 21 miles of all out effort on an unfamiliar course with all new players and some technically difficult and challenging sections. He did well and enjoyed the experience – Way to go, Robert!
There are miles of trails here – pretty flat, about the opposite if St. John, I would say, where my complaint was that I could not ride my bike. Here I can ride. And ride and ride. Pine woods, palms and big tree woods, with mosses hanging from the branches, a visual delight. Except for a slight mishap off a wooden ramp, which did not put me out of commission and that I am sure has is a lesson in it for me to learn.
Bob and I both did the Merry Cranxmas 25 mile ride out the the Santos Bike Shop, a fund raiser for St. Jude’s Hospital. It happened to start at 8:30 am after the coolest night we’ve had since being in Florida and was still about 38 degrees at the start. The day did warm up nicely. We met up with Rick and Jimmy again (from Alafia) and rode with them. Fun guys and we had a great time. Chili and beer at the finish.