Paisley Woods MTB trail: first ride report.
Yesterday morning I had some time to ride, and I was in the mood for something new. I decided to head over to the Paisley Woods Mountain Bike Trails and check it out.
Paisley Woods is a ~22 mile trail system that has a reputation for being sandy, somewhat hilly (for Florida) and non-technical. It’s not exactly a popular mountain biking trail, but many of my friends like to ride Paisley for long, fast-paced training rides.
Based on the descriptions I’d heard, I expected it to be a lot like Wekiwa State Park (which, as most of you know, is a place I frequently ride).
Unfortunately none of my friends were able to go on such short notice, so my virgin ride at Paisley was done solo.
When I set off from the Clearwater Lake trailhead I was feeling good, so I rode hard. As I rode along I thought, “This is not sandy at all! These trails are fast!” Well, as I found out about 6 miles later, that is because I accidentally set off on the hiking-only trail… 🙁
As I was riding along I came across a hiker. I called out to him so he knew I was coming, and he turned around and said (with obvious annoyance in his voice), “This is a hiking trail!”
As I rode past I replied, “Really? I’m so sorry, this is my first time here and I thought I was on the bike trail.”
A short time later I passed a sign that clearly indicated I was on a hiking-only trail. Oops!
The only thing I could do was ride until I reached the northern trailhead, Alexander Springs, where I knew I would find the correct trail.
The last half of the hiking trail was littered with large downed trees across the trail. Some I was able to hop, but at least a dozen were too big to jump, and I had to carry my bike. There were also lots of long (some more than 100 yards) elevated bridges that were lots of fun to ride. I guess I won’t be seeing the bridges again, at least not on my bike.
When I got to Alexander Springs I found the bike trail and began the journey south back to the Clearwater Lake trailhead. I was feeling a little deflated for riding half the way on the wrong trail, but I quickly got over that and just had fun riding. I got turned around a couple more times, but I didn’t care.
Unlike the hiking trail, the bike trail had lots of sand. I thought, “Ah, here we go!” Also, lots of pine needles. The pine needles were great on the straight sections, as they helped mitigate the sand, but they made the turns pretty slick in spots. I got a little squirrely on a few turns, but managed to avoid wiping out.
Definitely a great workout, but there was nothing I wasn’t used to dealing with at Wekiwa State Park. In fact, Paisley is much smoother and less rooty (and drier) than Wekiwa. There were no downed trees on the bike trail, and there were no sections so sandy that they could not be ridden. Some of the fireroad crossings were ultra-sandy, and it’s the exact same way at Wekiwa.
Of course I never saw the western half of the bike trail, so there are still some areas left for me to explore.
Here’s the map showing my route vs. the correct route (click to enlarge):
My average heart rate over the 21.34 mile/almost 2 hour ride was 173 BPM (152 “Extreme” Strava Suffer Score). I was definitely working out there, and when I finished the ride I was pretty tired.
Speaking of Strava, that entire loop (the bike trail loop, that is :D) is a segment. My friend Daniel has had the KOM for quite some time now, and his time is very, very fast. In order to beat (or even approach) his time, it’s going to require trail familiarity, a relentless effort for the entire distance and an “on” day. I’m looking forward to doing the complete loop and seeing just how much work I have ahead of me. I am very comfortable riding the type of terrain present out there, so I feel like when my conditioning is back to where it needs to be I could be a contender.
Here’s the complete ride from yesterday on Strava.
Well, this is not going to be a particularly fun weekend. Lisa and I will be spring cleaning the house all weekend long. I’d rather be on my bike right now, but we’ve got house guests coming next weekend and the cleaning must be done. Time to get to it!