Dreaming of Dirt

Board Member

March 02, 2021, 09:30 PM

It's that time of year when all of our thoughts turn to getting back on dirt trails.  These warmer days mean melting snow and spring riding right around the corner.  Unfortunately, we've got a few weeks of mud in store before the trails will be rideable, so patience is key.  The clay soil in our area holds water, making the trails prone to damage when they are wet; your tires form ruts, pushing the mud to the sides and 'cupping' the trail, causing them to hold more water, resulting in longer dry times, and so on.  And on slopes, it turns the trail into a channel for rainwater, which accelerates erosion.  It all leads to less enjoyable riding and more work for those of us who would rather be building new trail than repairing easily avoidable damage.

Worse than riding simply wet trail is riding thawed trail; when the temperature is dipping below freezing at night and the trail surface refreezes, the water in the soil expands and de-compacts the packed soil.  When it thaws, it creates an especially soupy mix that is even more susceptible to damage by rutting.  It's great to ride in the morning when it is frozen solid, but it will thaw out quickly, especially on south facing slopes.  More information on this phenomenon here.

It's going to be tempting for all of us to head to the trails on that first sixty degree day, but you are almost guaranteed a sloppy, slippery, messy, trail damaging time.  Please have patience and respect for the folks who donate their time and talent to build our trails and wait until they are dry.  Check conditions at madcitydirt.com or on Facebook; all of our trail systems are different, and some will be open before others.  And, please,  head out on the road, multi-use paths, or back home if you find you are leaving a rut.

Good things do come to those who wait, and we're as anxious as you to get out there.