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Mountain Bike in Winter


For many of us, winter brings frigid weather and a blanket of white to the landscape. So, what’s a hibernating mountain biker to do, if he’s lost all motivation to pedal in the snow? Why, migrate to a warmer spot, of course! Here’s a list of desirable mountain biking destinations you should consider visiting in in the winter time if mountain biking isn’t an option where you live.

1. Arizona’s Sonoran Desert

©enigmachck1 via Flickr

Priding itself on near perfect weather all year round, the Sonoran Desert is filled with sunny skies, stunning scenery and spectacular sunsets. I made a point to visit in early winter when it was cold, gray and wet in my neck of the woods.

Dove Mountain offers 9.9 miles of singletrack, known as the Tortolita Preserve. Be prepared for typical desert trail conditions—a mix of sand, hardpack and some rocky sections. Cacti are abundant here as well. Take it from me and avoid brushing up against one at all costs.

The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race course in Tucson, Ariz. Was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever ridden. A ribbon of singletrack winds through the Sonoran Desert, and brings riders up close and personal with native spiky flora—just don’t get too close! If you choose to visit here, remember that you’ll be riding close to 17 miles in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the desert. Be prepared.

2. Southwest Utah

©Beth Puliti

Visit Gooseberry Mesa for a combination of slickrock and singletrack. This technical trail is widely considered one of the best mountain bike trails in America. Soak in the incredible views of Zion National Park, but don’t take your focus off the trail for too long—advanced features require your full attention. With more than a thousand foot drop, the consequences are steep if you do fall! Motorized vehicles are prohibited. Crowds are rare, if non-existent.

Of course, you can’t talk about Utah without mentioning Moab. Touted as “the home of the greatest mountain biking on the planet,” Moab is a must-ride for any mountain biker—at least once. The variety of trails are well-suited for all types of riders, from beginner to advanced. Perhaps the most well-known trail, however, is the technical 9.6-mile Slickrock Bike Trail. Plan to ride an assortment of singletrack while you’re out here to see for yourself the many and varied trails Moab has to offer. Intermediate and advanced riders will want to ride Amasa Back, Porcupine Rim, Slickrock and Sovereign. Don’t forget your camera—the scenery is top-notch here.

3. Central Florida

©prud_de via Flickr
Beginner and intermediate riders, this is the destination for you! The Santos trails, which are maintained by the Ocala Mountain Bike Association, offer riders the most varied terrain in all of Florida. Ride winding singletrack through a pine and oak forest that features rocks, logs and roots. Multiple structures, as well as a skills park, will help you hone your technical skills. Trails marked yellow are easy, while blue are considered moderate and red technical. Red-marked trails will take mountain bikers up steeper inclines and over rough terrain. Make sure your bring your full face to catch some big air in the Vortex freeride area. Maps are provided in the parking area as well as within the trail system. The Santos Trail System is considered a model trail system and was designated an IMBA Ride Center – Bronze Level.

4. Southern California

Beth Puliti
This time of year, mountain bikers in southern California laugh at the rest of us who are forced into hibernation. Why? Because they are still shredding sweet singletrack. In the immediate LA area, Malibu Creek State Park, Agoura Hills and other surrounding areas offer options for mountain bikers of all levels, with rides such as Grasslands Trail, Backbone Trail and Tapia Spur Trail. For a more advanced ride, head on out to the Strawberry Peak Loop in La Canada . Hopefully you’ve mastered those technical descents, because this 17-mile trail offers plenty of steep singletrack. With mild winter weather (the average temperature at LA area beaches is about 70 degrees, all year long), southern California-based cyclists can turn their pedals outside any time of the year.

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