Muddy conditions on the forest roads outside Helen, GA this winter.
Spring can be a frustrating time of year for mountain bikers. The weather is finally warming up, the flowers are blooming, and the leaves are starting to come out on the trees – but in many places the trails are still wet. It’s true that April showers bring May flowers but it’s also true that wet riding in the spring can run trails for the entire summer. In Boise, for example, trail managers have decided to institute seasonal closures because of the actions of a few careless riders.
What to do? First, consider the weather when you make your weekend riding plans. In my area there isn’t any snow melt but in the spring a Wednesday rain shower can mean sloppy trails through Saturday and Sunday. Just because sunny skies are forecast on the day you plan to ride doesn’t mean the trails will be in good condition.
Even if you find your favorite trails are too wet to ride, that doesn’t mean you can’t get in the saddle. Consider alternate riding locations with better drainage or head onto forest roads or even paved routes. Training rides on the road will help you kick ass on the trail this summer plus it’s a great excuse to get out and enjoy the weather on your bike. This past weekend the trails near me were full of puddles so I rode 30 miles on forest roads instead and had a good time.
Wet trails are all the more tempting to ride when you’ve already invested time and energy getting to the trailhead. To avoid the temptation, try calling ahead to your local park management office or check singletracks to see if anyone has updated the trail status. This past Friday I was planning to ride and I loaded my bike and all my stuff into the car, ate a quick breakfast, and was almost out the door when I heard the forecast: severe thunderstorms. I opted to hang back but it was tough because I really wanted to ride that day. Wet trail riding is bad for your gear, bad for the trails, and riding in the rain is pretty miserable.
If your local trails are wet this time of year hold off on that trail ride and put in some training miles instead. Your body, your bike, and your trails will thank you this summer.
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