This particular chunk of singletrack has grown to road-width as folks tried to avoid the expanding puddle.

The classic trail rule for riding in the rain is to roll directly through the middle of standing water, rather than around it, to avoid widening the trail. Some ecosystems are more fragile than others and, depending on the soil and plant life where you ride, those wide spots surrounding puddles might become permanent.

Apart from puddles, riding in clay-based soil can leave tire-wide ruts in the trail that set in like cat paw prints in concrete once the soil dries, destroying any work your local trail builders did to smooth the tread. In this case, trails are often closed during wet weather, and sometimes for up to 72 hours following rainfall.

In places like Scotland, Ireland, western Oregon, western Washington state, and numerous other rainbow capitals, riding in rain is the only option. Trail builders in soggy environments have to know a lot about drainage and bridge building. Having lived in Portland, Oregon, I can say that being soaked and muddy on every ride grew old, while it also forced me to learn valuable wet weather riding and bearing replacing skills.

(This is an anonymous survey.)


# Comments

  • Head Over Handlebars

    When it rains here there are a few places nearby that have very gravelly soil that drains incredibly well, and have trails built more recently with drainage in mind. The other option is to head to Windrock. Riding park in the mud is kinda fun, and guilt-free as far as I see. You’re paying to ride on trails that have their own maintenance crew to repair the damage.

  • rajflyboy

    We have a few trails that never close. Sometimes I ride these if it has rained for several days and nothing else will be open for a few days.

  • Boxmonkey

    We have a couple of trails in the area that drain very well, that I ride after rainy days. If we have several days of rain, I will just ride the Greenway system around town. I have also built a few bridges in one riding spot to try and help in a low lying area that doesn’t drain well.

  • johnzo

    Cheers to the delightful person in the poll who rides whenever he wants. Thanks a lot and have a nice day.

  • vanevanson

    Where I live, Hot Springs, we have a very good trail (Cedar Glades) for rain. In the low areas where there are creek or run off crossings, there are natural rock slab bridges to cross those areas. In the Northwoods Trail System right next door, it depends on the amount of rain. As many of you know, central Arkansas has had a lot of rainfall the last few months and The Northwoods Trail System has a good way of letting us know if they are open or closed.

  • JMZ

    In Wisconsin the season is short so there is rarely an excuse not to ride. Although our local trails in Green Bay drain pretty well, I would rather have to repair the trail than miss out on a ride. We can all lend a hand to make better trails.

  • Scrappper

    Trails are built with wet weather in mind, and are open year round. Pack the snow down in winter and ride a fat bike. Nature is not always dry and pristine, mud is natural.

  • mongwolf

    Living on the Front Range of CO, some trails are at their best just after a good rain and the scree gets tacky and not so loose.

  • CycleKrieg

    Here in Cuyuna, have a little saying, “Water is falling from the sky, don’t be that guy. Grab a beer and wait for it to clear.”

  • samjames2018

    Being from the UK, pretty much anything is fair game, year round. There’s no other option really.

    When I lived in Christchurch, NZ, the soil was a pretty heavy clay, so the trails understandably (with a few exceptions) closed during wet weather, and most people abided by the closures. Same went for most of my nearby trails when I was in Australia.

    Here in Vancouver, the trails are open in all weather, you just have to make the choice as to whether you’re capable of riding them in the wet! Of course there are the secret trails that don’t hold up to wet weather riding and should be avoided, but most sanctioned trails are built to be all-weather.

  • rmap01

    Fortunately we have a couple of trails that drain fairly well. But after any meaningful rain I always check the various MTB Facebook pages to see whether or not the locals think the trails are rideable. I have driven to trails and left in instances where I felt conditions weren’t suitable. (I have way too much respect for those that do TM’s to ride in wet conditions when damage will be done to the trails). When conditions are poor, I’ll usually go for a run.

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