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The Ocala National Forest is one of the most beautiful places in Florida you can explore. If you’re looking for an adventure that’s a little more off-road, we have just what you need! The Ocala off-road trails offer visitors an opportunity to experience some of the most scenic landscapes and natural areas that this state has to offer. We recently visited Ocala’s Santos Trails. It’s is an easy drive from Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville, and St. Augustine and makes for amazing scenery and of course perfect off-road biking terrains. If you’re looking for a truly awesome mountain biking location in Florida we can’t recommend Santos Trails enough.

Ocala off Road Trails

Exploring the Ocala off Road Trails

If you are in the mood for a little adventure, finding your way through twisting paths and steep hills, then mountain biking is the perfect sport for you. The Ocala Santos Trail system offers over 80,000 acres of rolling terrain with no shortage of obstacles to keep things interesting. The trails are open year-round from sunrise to sunset.

The Ocala Santos trails are a destination for mountain bikers, hikers, and runners alike. Whether you’re looking to get out of the heat in the summer or explore some nature in the winter, these trails have something for everyone.

Mountain biking is a fun and adventurous way to experience the outdoors. It’s also an excellent workout for your muscles! But, it can be dangerous if you’re not well equipped. There are ways to minimize risk of injury while biking — as always we encourage you to play hard! You just have to be safe about it. 😉

If you’ve been following our team at Play Hard Florida for a while now then you probably know we like to explore – kind of a lot! As we mentioned we recently embarked on our first day of biking in the Ocala off-road trails, but it’s not the first set of off-road terrain our team has seen and we weren’t going into it blind. We’ve done all the research on where to go, what gear is needed, and how to prepare for this adventure – and we wanted to share some best practices with you.

What should you pack? What kind of shoes? Is there any food we need for lunch or snacks along the way? If you’re like me, even though you may have ridden many times before in different locations with different people, these things can get overlooked when working up your excitement. Luckily this list should help.

Let’s jump in!

Mountain Bike Safety

While riding a bike may not seem as dangerous as operating a motorized vehicle at first glance, controlling a small, open-air vehicle at fast speeds over rough terrain definitely comes with some chance of bodily injury, which is not something to be taken lightly. This is why it is so important to follow safety precautions when operating a mountain bike. In order to maximize your personal safety while mountain biking, be sure to follow these tips on your next off-road adventure:

Always wear a helmet

Make sure that you’re wearing a proper mountain biking helmet every time you ride. Unlike a typical road bike helmet, a mountain biking helmet is typically thicker and protects more of the head and face. 

Wear appropriate clothing

Due to the many natural obstacles that riders encounter on off-road trails, you should make sure that your arms and legs are covered and you’re wearing shoes or boots that completely cover your foot and do not have long laces or other accessories that could get tangled in or caught on your petals and gears. You can also consider elbow and knee pads for additional safety. 

Do not consume illicit substances before operating a mountain bike

Even though a mountain bike is man-powered, they still reach break-neck speeds of up to 30 mph. Just like with any other vehicle, consuming drugs or alcohol before operating a mountain bike can be a deadly mistake, as well as an illegal one. Riding a bicycle while under the influence is illegal in all 50 states, including Florida. 

Inspect your bike regularly 

Inspecting your mountain bike on a regular basis is extremely important. Something such as a bent handlebar or cracked tire can send you hurdling off of your bike at any moment when on the trail. If you aren’t entirely sure what you’re looking for, be sure to consult a professional every 3-6 months, depending on how much you ride. Make sure that you are cleaning down your mountain bike after every couple of rides, and always clean your bike after riding in the rain or through muddy or otherwise wet terrain to ward off rust. 

Don’t push your body too hard 

Mountain biking is an extremely physical sport, and you should always keep in mind that your body is working just as hard as your machine. Be sure to take frequent rests, drink plenty of water, and either eat a nutritional meal before your ride or pack some healthy snacks for the trail. Not only is it important for your long-term physical health not to stress your body unduly, but you are more likely to sustain a muscle injury while fatigued due to your body lacking the proper resources to regulate the healing process.  

Mountain biking is, of course, not without some inherent risks. If you follow the necessary precautions, however, mountain biking is an exhilarating sport and an excellent way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. If you’re ready to start planning your next mountain biking vacation, be sure to check out our full directory guide to Florida biking locations and start your adventure today!

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