Don’t Ride Muddy Trails!
I get it. It has been raining for 3 days straight and and you are itching to get off of the couch and on to your bike. I have been in this situation. I have not ridden my mountain bike for a week because of rain storms here in California. You may think that it is a good idea to ride when the trails are muddy, but that is in fact a very bad idea.
Of course, it does depend on where you live. Some areas it is completely acceptable to ride when it is wet out. For example, places where is is wet year round. The trails in these areas where specifically built to hold up to the forces of water and people riding in the wet. It is also acceptable to ride in the wet when the trail is built on soil that absorbs water quickly, suck as sand based trails.
Why should mountain bikers avoid trails when they are muddy? The main reason is trail damage. When trails are muddy, they are soft. This means that your tires will dig in and create a rut. when the trail dries out, this rut will dry out as well. Ruts are created by you, at other trail users expense. You now have a rut cemented into the trail the everybody now has to deal with, overall making the trail less desirable to ride.
Not only do ruts effect trail users, but the people who maintain the trail. The majority of trails are maintained by volunteer groups. We owe our good times on the trails to these people. it is not fair to make somebody else have to fix a trail that you damaged, just so you could have an hour of fun. Most mountain bikers do not volunteer for trail work days. If you are reading this I encourage you to give back, and volunteer or donate to your local trail advocacy group. A little time and money goes a long way, and these are the people who are responsible for the existence of trails.
What can you do when the trails are muddy? Well I have a few suggestions. First, you could maintain your bike. Tighten the bolts. Replace broken parts and put on new upgrades. One of my favorite things to do is to thoroughly clean my bike and pay attention the the places are hard to reach. You could also ride on road! Last weekend was great. It rained both days, but I found time in the afternoon when it was sunny and managed to log 50 miles on my road bike. It’s always fun to explore, take your bike and ride around the neighborhood to somewhere you have never been before.
If it is just not possible to go outside and you need your fix of bike related activities, there is still plenty to do. check out some of the major websites such as PinkBike or MTBR and check out infinite amounts of articles and videos. Or you could come back to The Mountain Bike Life;)
I know that it is tempting to ride in the mud. I mean, who doesn’t like to act like a kid and get muddy from head to toe? But think of the people that you are effecting when you damage a wet trail. Do your part, and respect the trail. I feel like it is very important for the community to keep each other in check, since these are all of our trails.