Bike, Hike, Run or Ride in the Loxahatchee River area.
Welcome to the world of "off
road" cycling! Experience trails like never before. Off-road bikes allow
the rider to get away from it all (especially vehicle traffic), and enjoy nature
and the outdoors. You can "get out" and "get back" much faster than hiking or
running, while covering many more miles of trails and greenways. Get ready to
enjoy the ride...
Designs: There are mountain bike (MTB) frames
available to fit almost any man, women, or child. It's a good idea to visit your
local bike shop for a professional fit when you're ready to buy your first bike.
All mountain bikes should have some sort of shock absorbing capability.
You generally get to choose between a "hard tail" mountain bike (front
suspension), or a "soft tail" mountain bike (full suspension). For most flat
terrain, a hard tail bike is sufficient. This bike style has front shocks; many
even have adjustable settings for a softer/harder ride over the bumps. Some
of the higher end soft-tail bikes with full suspension, even have a "brain"
device that can automatically adjust the ride stiffness depending on the type of
terrain your riding on!
Size: Traditionally, the most common size mountain bike has been
the 26er, which has 26" wheels. Lately, many riders have been switching to
the new 29" models. The 29er offers larger wheels that more easily roll over
stumps, roots, and obstacles on the trail. The larger wheels/tires also help to
float the rider on sandy trails (like the wonderful sugar sand we have in our
area). Although there are many factors that will dictate which model is best. The
26ers are better in tight switch-backs and jumps; and also they are a better fit
for smaller riders. It's always best to speak with local riders and experts in
your friendly neighborhood bike shops in order to select the correct bike
size and/or frame geometry for your particular style of riding and comfort level.
When off-road biking, you want more clearance space than usual between the top
crossbar and your anatomy!
There are many features to look for in your new bike. Shop and compare the
individual components like the gear and crank set, pedals (plastic vs. metal,
clipless or flat bike pedals), brakes (mechanical or
hydraulic disc brakes, seats (comfort vs. quality), rims, tires (tread
style), shocks (adjustable), water-bottle cage mounts, frame warranty,
etc. Different bike shops also provide various services long after the purchase.
Some local shops provide a lifetime of free adjustments and minor tune-ups when you
purchase a bike from them. Others sell optional warranty protection plans
which include yearly tune-ups and replace faulty parts. Compare price,
components, and warranty when bike shopping.
weight is directly related to the bike's frame, and components.
Off-road mountain bike frames are built strong, to take the off-road pounding of
bumps and jumps. There are frames made of aluminum alloys, steel, carbon fiber,
and a mixture of other high-tech materials. The general rule is the lighter the
bike, the higher the cost. There is even a drastic weight difference in bicycle
components, with the higher-end bikes having more expensive, but lighter,
stronger components. A lighter bike is easier to carry, easier to load in your
vehicle, and faster on the trails. Your budget and the bike's weight are directly
recommend wearing a vented bike helmet to protect your head from trees, rocks,
and hard-ground impacts. Purchase a high-quality pair of biking gloves to reduce
fatigue on your hands and wrists. Wear clothing that is lightweight and
comfortable, depending on the local weather conditions. The newer SPF and
moisture wicking "dry tech" clothing will help keep you cool, dry, and protect
you from the damaging rays of the sun. Don't forget your eye protection as well;
sunglasses not only shade your eyes from the sun, but they also shield your
eyes from other potential hazards while on the trails.
Wear closed-toe shoes when biking off-road. Many trail riders prefer to use
clipless pedals and specially designed bike shoes which attach (clip) to the bike
pedals. This keeps your feet from slipping off the pedals, keeps them in the correct
riding position, and provide extra power because your feet can pull up on the pedal as
well as push down when riding. These clip-in pedals provide adjustments so you can
always "kick out" of them if needed, on the trail.
Specially designed biking shorts for off-road riders are readily available in many bike
shops and sporting goods retailers. Gone are the days when you had to
choose from which brightly-colored spandex road biking outfits to
wear :). Modern-style mountain bike (MTB) shorts work great. They look more
like baggy cargo shorts on the outside, but contain soft, chamois-like padding
within an inner-liner to keep you comfortable while in the
Supplies: Carry plenty of
water; wear a bike helmet; take your cell phone.
You should also carry a spare tire tube, patch kit, and air supply
(pump, or CO2 cartridges), and tire levers. A small multi-tool is also
a good idea for those back-woods bike repairs! If your out in the
summer, you may also need insect repellent, sunscreen, and snacks. One of the
best ways to stay hydrated, and carry all your supplies, is to purchase a
Camelbak style backpack. These small backpacks contains a built-in
water bladder. The packs contain a water tube that hangs over your
shoulder so you can easily drink while you ride. Most of these hydration
packs offer plenty of storage for your keys, wallet, & spare parts.
(Benefits): You may not realize it, but you actually get a much more
aerobic work out when riding on sandy trails, than you do when riding on the
road. It takes more effort to pedal through soft sand, mud, grass, roots,
etc than rolling on pavement. Of course, your own "work
out" benefits/results depend on the terrain and how hard/fast you
choose to ride. One of the best work-outs around is riding the sugar sand hills
and trails of Jonathan Dickinson State Park's Camp Murphy trail
system. Check it out on our Trail
Page, along with many other options!
Shared-use Trail Etiquette
(Bikers and Equestrians): When approaching horses on shared-use trails,
please keep the following tips in mind. Stop, and communicate with
approaching horseback riders when you meet up on a shared-use trail. They will
let you know whether it's OK to ride past them, or wait. This also
helps to calm the horse, as you talk to the rider. The horse will see that you
are a human on a bike, and will not be startled. Horses, by nature, are food
animals (prey) and have a natural instinct to flee from predators (flight to
safety). Domestic horses still have this natural instinct to varying degrees, so
it's important to speak up and let them know you're approaching, especially from
behind. A horse has "blind spots" directly in front and directly behind in
their "field of vision". In addition, do not attempt to pet or touch a horse,
unless the owner says it's OK. Use common sense and never attempt to approach a
horse if it's ears are pinned-back and/or it's showing signs of distress or fear
(anything other than a calm disposition).
Photo © 2010 LoxahatcheeRiver.net
Be safe out there, and enjoy the ride!