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Wrecked on the very sandy Mt. Dora trails.

Monday, September 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

September
19
2011
This capture doesn't do this feature justice: it's 22 feet tall and nearly vertical.

This capture doesn't do this feature justice: it's 22 feet tall and nearly vertical.

On Saturday I went out to the trails at Mt. Dora. We haven’t had any rain over the past week, and it was exceptionally sandy. Sugar sand at a place like Wekiwa is no big deal (you just plow through it), but on a more technical trail with lots of sharp twists and turns (many of which are on/after downhills) the sugar sand completely ruins the flow of the trail. When I was at the Mt. Dora trails a week ago the experience was far more enjoyable because I went the day after some pretty heavy rain. On Saturday I found the ride more frustrating than fun, and I fell pretty hard as well…

I didn’t take my DSLR with me, so these photos are all from my little point and shoot and video captures from my GoPro.

Grainy video capture of me riding the fishbowl (taken November 2, 2010)

Grainy video capture of me riding the fishbowl (taken November 2, 2010)

There is a fun feature out at Mt. Dora that’s like a giant 6 or 7 foot deep fishbowl in the ground. I’ve hit this thing about 2 dozen times in the past without issue, but on Saturday I wiped out on it. The first time I rode the fishbowl on Saturday I felt my tires slip a little bit. On closer examination I saw that there was quite a bit of sugar sand down there. On my second lap my tires slipped just enough to put me off the correct line, and as I speedily ascended the bowl heading toward the right edge there was nothing I could do–I knew I was about to wreck, and I did. I went flying over the bars like a meat rocket and landed in the woods (in the mess of stuff on the left side of the picture). Thankfully there were not any sharp sticks or branches sticking up, and I just suffered some cuts and bruises. I rode for about another hour after the wreck, but the trail conditions prevented me from having much fun.

The grip-eating trees.

The grip-eating trees.

There are also several tight squeezes through pairs of trees on this trail. I actually really enjoy these kinds of challenges, but there is one pair of trees that I hit my bars on every single time. I just figured that the tolerance was about 1/2 inch, and I was simply off a little bit. In other words, I chalked up the hits to my bad riding. Well, after my third lap (and ripping my grips open on the trees), I backed up and found that my bars were literally too wide to fit through the opening. The only way I can see getting through this section without scraping my bars is to bunny hop so that my bars are higher up (where the gap is bigger). This just seems like poor trail design to me. Am I missing something here?

This could be a really fun trail, but the cost of bringing in enough clay to fix all the sandy areas is probably prohibitive.

Anyway, this morning I’m very sore from the wreck. The soreness feels exactly like DOMS from lifting weights, but it’s spread unevenly around the parts of my upper body that absorbed the force of the impact. Thankfully today is leg day, so my aching upper body won’t be an issue.

John Stone Fitness Comments

3 Responses to “Wrecked on the very sandy Mt. Dora trails.”
  1. Sand at the bottom of downhill sections is usually a sign of erosion. The trail is getting washed down the hill. The only way to fix that is a re-route that allows water to cross the trail, not run down the trail. The picture above sure looks like the trail is on the fall-line. Bad trail design. We have a few fall-line trails that have this same issue. They are on the list for re-routes, but it’s a compromise…trail work…or ride.

    As far as the trees close together. You can either do a wheelie though it, turning your bars as you ride through…or cut your bars down a little bit. Most bars come pretty wide from the factory.

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    • Arlen, very interesting–thank you (I know zilch about trail design).

      This trail was built by very experienced builders with OMBA (Ocala Mountain Bike Association–the same organization that built and maintains the incredible Santos trails in Ocala), so I would be very surprised if they made such a huge mistake when constructing this trail system last year.

      I’m not sure how familiar you are with Florida, but the soil here is extremely sandy. I should also point out that there is sugar sand in lots of places on the trail, not just at the bottom of hills.

      Do you think the problem could just be the Florida “soil” (I use that term loosely) and not poor trail design?

      I know they’ve added red clay in several spots to help with the sand (and those areas are much improved), and they said they are doing what they can to add more clay. The cost to do this is high, however, so it’s slow going. 🙁

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  2. Even though I did say bad trail design…we do it as well. In case any OMBA readers are on this forum I mean no disrespect. Sometimes you just do the best you can do with what you’ve got. You need those fun little fast sections on the trail so you just deal with the consequences. Short steep sections can last a long while. Long fall line trails won’t last very long and would be a constant maintenance issue….that sucks. rebuilding the same trail again and again.

    It could just be the nature of the beast in building trails in Florida. Our soil is very Sandy here in WI too, but by keeping water running across trails we are better able to manage the sandy spots. Sandy can also be a “feature” of the trail too…depending on the disturbed nature of the trail designer. 🙂

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