June 21, 2014

Tallahassee: Tom Brown & Munson Hills Trails

Florida mountain biking. Is this some kind of joke? Afterall, the highest point in Florida is 345' above sea level. Visions of flat sandy loops in the muggy air began dancing in my head. But we were heading to Tallahassee for a HS reunion of K's and last time I checked Tally-town had some hills. As luck would have it, one of K's classmates, Mark, was trying to organize a mountain bike ride the morning of the reunion. I quickly informed K that I'd go for the ride if we could round up a bike. Mark's buddy stepped up and lent me an Ellsworth Evolve FS 29er, perhaps a bit overkill for the area, but no way I'd turn it down!!

As it turned out, it was just Mark and I on the ride. So Mark decided to give me the grand tour!! Unfortunately for Mark, he was up late changing a flat on his vehicle, then proceeded to find his pedal had busted leaving only the spindle!! To his credit, he sucked it up and rode with the broken pedal, keeping inside pressure on it so it would 'mostly' stay on the bike!!
Most of the trails we rode at Tom Brown park are on the opposite side of the lake.
Mark's broken pedal.
We started our ride at the high school near Tom Brown park. A few short connectors later we were weaving our way through a forested singletrack masterpiece. What Florida lacks in elevation gain is easily made up in terms of pure FUN. These trails were purpose built, flowed fantastic, often having slightly banked turns, wood features thrown in for optional challenges and other off-chute areas to play on. Those areas included a BMX track, downhill jump line and giant wooden wallride!!
At least there was a lot of shade!!
We started early enough to avoid some heat, but the humidity was already kicking into gear. To be honest, I wasn't nearly as affected by it as I would have thought...well, that is, until we stopped moving!! Whoa. Just keep pedaling and it's fine!!
Wallyworld wallride. Photo courtesy of singletracks.com
That's why it's called the Cadillac trail!! Photo courtesy of mtbproject.com
The Sine Wave on the East Cadillac trail. Photo courtesy of mtbproject.com
Here's a really nice video put together by the city of Tallahassee:

We then made our way to the Munson Hills trails via neighborhood roads and a couple trail connectors. These trails are even faster than those at Tom Brown Park!! Packed orange clay through the green pines of the Apalachicola Nat'l Forest. The only real trail hazards were the occasional mix of fine white sand or the tight squeeze through the trees, beware 700mm bar riders!!
Plenty of miles can be had here, all the way south to the Gulf. More info.
The trees start to blur the faster you go.
Prescribed burn area.
Mark still pedaling on the busted eggbeater.
The loop was filled with gradual ups & downs.
One of the trailheads.
We interrupted our return ride for a brew, then made our way back to the high school on mostly the same route. On one of the last rises in the road I noticed the rear derailleur started to wobble, next thing I knew the hanger snapped!! What?!?! Time to walk. Luckily for me it was only a couple of blocks, then a slight downhill coast over to the car.
We ended up knocking out over 35 miles and believe it or not, 1800' of elevation. Many thanks to Mark for showing me around and sticking it out with practically no sleep & a broken pedal. I owe you one if you're ever out in AZ!! I'll definitely be making more riding plans during future Tallahassee visits, K will love that!! :)
The next day we went downtown to sample a relatively new brewery, Proof Brewing Co. They had a very tasty orange-vanilla porter. Check 'em out.
Orange-vanilla porter.
And for my Gator friends, these were all around town....

1 comment:

  1. Great write-ups (except for the seminole stuff). Loved the cadillac pic/story, and your buddy's pedal problem reminded me of the time I had to finish a race w/NO pedal and lots of 1-legged circles.