I had the opportunity to go dirt bike riding during the Christmas holiday break and wanted to give all my riding friends a heads-up on some changes in the Florida terrain.
If you read Diversity in the Dirt, you may remember that Croom is one of my favorite areas to ride in Florida. When hurricane Irma hit several months ago, our state took a beating due to strong winds and damaging flood waters. It would make sense that if our paved roads were damaged, then our trails, sand roads, and wooded areas would also show dramatic changes from the storm. How dramatic? I recently explored Croom again since the hurricane during the holidays. The trails I usually ride seemed so unfamiliar to me this time and there was so much debris on the usual paths. Trees of all sizes either fell or leaned low across the trails, with long hanging vines that could pull me off my bike. Many of the hill climbs were washed out or cluttered with uprooted trees and limbs.
On a positive note, several new hill climb areas are being created, so if you like to fly, be sure to hit some of them next time you are there. New lines have started to form around the downed trees, so I didn't have to turn around too many times. Those new lines will soon be the new trails that flow again. Croom's constant changes are what makes it so challenging.
Remember, safety isn't automatic just because the storms go away and the rain bands dissipate. It's actually quite the opposite! More caution should be taken after the bad weather hits and that's when those off-road riding techniques come into play. It's important to make sure you're looking far ahead of the trail as you carry your momentum, enabling you to be ready for any surprises like tree roots, rocks, and those low hanging limbs and vines above. It's also helpful to stay balanced in the center of the bike with a loose grip on the handlebars. Be on the balls of your feet, gripping with your knees. Stay loose, look ahead, and remember that you have sand, deeper sand, and water holes that may be too deep to cross in the center. I try to cross water holes closer to the side or edge.
Looking far ahead is so important when choosing your lines. A tip that helped me to look farther ahead was to move my helmet visor up. Now when I ride in a standing attack position, my visor does not limit my viewing distance. Try it! Happy riding for the new year... I know I'll be out there Riding Dirt!
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