Thursday, December 29, 2011

Flor'Easter: Day 6- Mala Compra

Nearly two hundred years ago Seminole warriors burned what used to be a cotton plantation to the ground.  Today, the forest that covers part of that land houses some of the best mountain biking trails in Florida.

Mala Compra sits on the ocean side of the intercoastal waterway from Palm Coast.  With the trailhead less than five miles from my in-laws it is within easy riding distance.  I had already scoped it out earlier in the week, and aside from fighting the north wind to get there, it was a pretty easy trip.

Steep rooty descent to a thin bridge.
Double black was deserved.
The first few miles of trail are fast and flowy.  I hammered through turns, jumped over roots and leaned into turns.

I learned quickly that missing a turn and catching a shoulder on the jagged palmetto bark is a little higher penalty than even a pine guarded turn back home.  Despite being roughed up by a palmetto, I found this first part of the trail pretty easy going.

Several well marked technical challenges were sprinkled into the trail with alternate beginner lines available.  Just as I was beginning to get bored the trail got much more interesting.  Suddenly there were double black diamond signs warning of steep drops, difficult climbs, and high penalty bridges.  These challenges, on the far southern end of the park, mark the middle point of the trail. I found a number of pucker worthy sections that demanded attention and commitment.

Like a passing storm, the trail settled again, and the challenging terrain dissolved into the fast flowy singletrack that dominated the start.

Despite the dry weather there were very few sandy sections to slow the pace.  Whereas Graham Swamp had more of an "all mountain" feel with its drops and jumps, I actually found Mala to have some of the scarier sections.  A fall at Graham would have sent you tumbling into the brush while a fall in several sections at Mala would have resulted in a dive into scary looking sulfur pools.  Whereas Graham was definitely more vertically challenging and a better workout, Mala blows it away when it comes to flow.  I was able to blast through most of the sections there and tuned out into the "zone" that you can find on a great trail.

A rock line!
The two trails compliment each other very well, and Palm Coast is lucky to have such diversity within easy reach.  If you feel like building some lungs or grabbing some big air, Graham is your choice.  Mala Compra, on the other hand, is ideal for zoning out, feeling the flow, and honing your technical execution.

And to think, this could have been a barren field or the floorspace for some box store.

Enjoy the video:

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