Group ride at “Haile’s Trails” & “The Rock”: post-ride report (video).
Saturday’s group ride at Haile’s Trails exceeded all expectations! The trails were extremely fun and very challenging, and the entire group had a great time.
Our group consisted of six riders: Blake Merrill, Daniel Cleaver, Mark Huff, Mike Simmons, Paul Lewis and me. Other than Mike, I’d never ridden with any of these guys before, but I knew who they were through Strava and Facebook. Strong riders, but the dynamic was very laid back and relaxed. No egos, just a bunch of guys who love playing in the dirt. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I really enjoyed meeting and riding with everyone. I’m sure that will be the first of many rides we’ll do together.
As for the trails… wow! The scenery was incredible, and unlike anything I’ve seen in Florida before. The trails were very challenging: plenty of tech, but they flowed very well. Some of the climbs were absolutely insane! The longer climbs up the quarry were tough, but manageable, but a few of the steeper “grunt” climbs were nearly impossible for me.
The first lap was a little rough, but still fun. We were all still figuring out the trail, choosing our lines and getting our speed control down. The first time on this trail when you come across a blind corner it’s impossible to know if you are supposed to pour on the speed or slow down: will the next thing you see be a tough climb, or a 100 foot drop off a cliff? On this trail, either scenario was possible.
I didn’t find any of the technical features beyond my abilities, but a few of the very steep climbs got the better of me. On the second lap I managed to clean the whole trail with the exception of 4 very steep and tough climbs. I know Paul, and perhaps Daniel (can’t remember), managed to make all the climbs on the second lap. Very impressive.
The rock garden was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I blazed through that on both laps with ease. Compared to the rock gardens on the Vortex trail at Santos, this one was a piece of cake.
There were some issues with my GoPro HD. First of all, the lens fogged up. The foggy lens combined with the morning sun made the footage very hazy in many places. Also, on a very steep and rocky downhill early in the ride the crappy GoPro handlebar mount literally snapped in half, sending my camera crashing down the rocky slope. It took me a few minutes to locate the camera. The camera was OK, but with a broken mount that was the end of filming for the day. It’s a shame, because we all rode the second lap really well.
When I got home and reviewed the footage, it turns out the camera had shut off a little before the mount broke anyway. At one particularly steep and rooty downhill there was a bit of a pile up. Mike’s front tire got hung up on a big root on the downhill, and he went over the bars. I was right behind him, and basically ran him over. Thankfully Mike was OK, but the impact shut the camera down.
So the footage is not that great, and most of the really cool stuff never made it to film. I’ve got about five minutes of film here, and I guess there are a few neat things, some decent speed and the big wreck.
By the way, after we rode Haile’s Trails, Blake suggested that we hit another nearby trail called “The Rock”. We all went over to those trails, and they were also a lot of fun! I think they were about 5 miles in total, and a nice mix of tech and flow. There were a few wooden features, a couple drops (and one big drop), a few kickers, some skinnies and about a million roots. I’d definitely hit that trail again when in the Gainesville area.
Another awesome weekend adventure with a great group of riders!