My first experience mountain biking was many years ago on a family vacation in Georgia. I was raised in a family of adventurers … but we had no idea what we were getting into. And when it was time to start riding down the mountain it was really intense and scary! I remember squeezing my breaks the entire time, which is probably the worst way to mountain bike ever.
Since moving back to Miami, I have heard from friends and co-workers who enjoy Mountain Biking as a weekly hobby. It seems kind of funny to say you go Mountain Biking in a city that is at sea level, but it is possible and a lot of fun!
Finally, a couple weeks ago Andres and I made it over to Oleta River State Park to give it a try.
I have spent many weekends at this park kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and bbq-ing with friends but Mountain Biking was missing from the list. Blue Moon Outdoor Center rents the bikes for good periods of time and gives you a helmet as well.
We rented the bikes for 1.5 hours for our first experience. They gave us our bikes and pointed us in the direction of 2 yellow poles that marked the start of the trails.
Once you enter the trail zone, there are 3 levels of trails available: Beginner (green), Intermediate (blue), Black Diamond (Black). Although I was still traumatized from my Georgia experienced, Andres convinced me to go for the Intermediate trails.
The trails are made up of dirt, tree trunks, rocks, leaves, and go through mangroves so watch out for water drops. While they may not be super high elevations, you definitely get the Mountain Biking experience. As we took off on the first trail, you could immediately feel the sharp turns and bumps that you never experience on a road bike trip.
It took me about 5-10 minutes to warm up and get into a groove. And after an hour of riding under the trees and around the forest, I fell in love. The sport forces you to stay constantly aware of your surroundings and makes you think about how you are going to approach each obstacle. You are always challenged, which makes it very exciting.
The most difficult part for me was going up hill or seeing a big rock or branch and trying to ride over it instead of getting down from the bike to ride around it. I did get stuck a couple times… but with a little practice you definitely get more comfortable.
We did each loop once but I know that if we stayed longer and re-rode the trails we would be even more comfortable with them and taking on bigger hills and obstacles.
Even with our limited time, we got to try all the Intermediate routes. I was not daring enough to take on a Black Diamond but I would be willing to try next time. Happy to say my view of Mountain Biking has been redeemed and I am definitely going back to Oleta to ride again!
Suz & Zeal Tips:
- The earlier you arrive at the park, more chance of having trails for yourself
- This is a very popular park on holiday weekends so if you don’t like crowds avoid going then
- Blue Moon Outdoors occasionally has groupon deals so be on the lookout!
- The bikes they rent are amazing: good tires, shock absorption and gears.
- Will have to pay park entrance fee in addition to bike rental
- Bring your own helmet and water
- If your first time, 1.5 hours is perfect to try it out!
- Wear sneakers and comfortable clothing for getting sweaty. Jeans/long pants are always a good option to protect your skin against bumps or bruises.
- Other parks where you can find Mountain Biking: Markham Park, Amelia Earhart Park, and Virginia Key in Key Biscayne