Guideline for Riding Muddy Trails

MTB Trail Etiquette

Tough weather conditions with record rains, snow and freeze-thaw can make it frustrating for us mountain bikers (AND volunteer groups that maintain the trails).  Some don’t ride or opt for gravel rides.  Others just ride the same trails they always do.  There are trails that do quite well with our challenging conditions.  Timing is pretty key, but choosing the right trails is also important.  We’ve written about this before, but feel we can’t overstress these issues often enough.  Bad conditions can be difficult to judge this time of year as conditions are more frequently sloppy.


IMPORTANT FACT:  In most places, the US Forest Service and likely your state and city parks DO NOT have paid trail crews!!!!  Nearly all of the work that goes into maintaining these trails are through VOLUNTEER efforts COORDINATED by fellow mountain bikers.


If you must get out when conditions are mixed freeze/thaw or wet and muddy:

  • Pay close attention to the temperatures during freeze-thaw – usually the earlier in the day the better.  If it’s sunny and below freezing, condtions can still be very muddy
  • Consider walking vs creating ruts and DO NOT RIDE OR HIKE around the outside of the standing water or mud.  This will eventually make our singletrack wide enough to drive a bus down.
  • Allocate some extra volunteer time to help rebuild trails – Get Involved!
  • Donate to help fix the damage you contribute to the trails.
  • Take into account saturation levels of the trails.  Has it been raining for the past week or did it just pour down for a couple of hours?  The later dries much quicker.
  • Contact local shops to inquire on conditions

Weedpatch Mountain biking

During periods where the ground is freezing, we have to be careful with when we’re going out.  Morning is normally best before things have started to thaw to become like peanut butta.  This is a great time to think about getting out-of-town for a weekend of riding in better weather and or dry and warmer conditions.  Southern migrations are a great way to keep your sanity in the winter months!

Rules still apply even IF you’re on vacation out of town.  I say this because we see it all the time – 4″ deep ruts leading from an out of state car.  Extra caution may be needed in unfamiliar terrain or you just might end up pushing your bike more than riding.  Best thing to do when out-of-town is to reach out to the locals – either through social media or at the trailheads.

Basically, be respectful of your trails or sooner or later your favourite trail may be forced to reroute or be closed altogether.  It is a privilege to be able to ride many trails, don’t ruin it for the rest of us and be the dick out there.  Get involved and donate your time and or money to help maintain trails especially if you must get out when conditions are subpar.

 

 

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