In southwest Florida there a dozen and a half ways to enjoy the weather and the scenery while also getting in shape. From running and swimming to triathlons and mud runs, we have almost everything. When I say almost that is because there is one sport that has only just begun to gain traction in our part of the sunshine state. That sport is off road riding, otherwise known as mountain biking.
You might be asking, how can you mountain bike without mountains? Mountain bikes are built not merely for climbing and descending but more specifically for exploring. The knobby tires and plush suspension make it possible to go on journeys far from the pavement. It is only off road where you will experience the true beauty of southwest Florida's nature and see the vast array of amazing animals up close and personal. Off road riding allows you to have a real Florida adventure.
Where can you go for these types of adventures? A trail building group named SCORR (Sarasota County Off Road Riders) has built a mountain bike specific trail system in Venice at the T.Mabry Carlton Reserve park. These new trails consist of 4+ miles of fun, twisty singletrack which is connected to 80 miles of long established fire roads.
SCORR gathers every Tuesday night, and sometimes on the weekends, for group rides around the park. These rides break up into smaller groups for varying abilities and speeds. They always warmly welcome new people to join them. However, if you already enjoy spending time riding off road you might want to visit their yearly event - The Piggy's Revenge Off Road Challenge.
Piggy's Revenge is a mountain bike race/ride designed for most skill levels with challenges set at 20, 40 and 60 mile lengths. This event allows riders to explore a huge swath of the Carlton Reserve in one fun filled day. The variety of trails includes the new singletrack plus many miles of doubletrack, fire roads, dirt roads and some shorter stretches of rough terrain. You can see pictures of many of these trails in my recent Facebook album entitled, 'Exploring the Carlton.'
The three different lengths will all be marked out with arrows and should be very easy to follow. All riders will travel the first 15 miles together, the 40 and 60 mile riders will continue for another 11 miles before the final split. There will be a rest stop around mile 26 and there are bail out points along the way.
For those who participate there will be homemade sausages hot off the grill and custom t-shirts to mark their accomplishment. The top male and female who complete the 60 mile route will earn Piggy's Revenge trophies as seen in the photo at the start of this article. Remember you get to pick your route - 20, 40 or 60 miles. Map routes are available for preview.
Piggy's Revenge takes place on Sunday, January 12th, 2014 at 8am. This is the 2nd annual gathering of this event and anyone can be a part of it but you must sign up online at the link below.
Complete rules and maps here: Piggy's Revenge 2014
Online Registration here: Piggy's Revenge - BikeReg.com