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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a group wanting to get up to Clark's Hill this Saturday. According to the forcast there is a 50% chance of showers Friday with today till Friday being sunny and dry.
I have been checking the SORBA website and it doesn't seem that they keep up with updating the trail status very well. The last update was a trail closure on the 26th due to lots of rain?
How will I know for sure if the trails are open? With there being a dry week will light showers close the place down? I know to stay away if it has rained a lot but wonder if some light showers would effect the trails?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oh no please don't take it as me complaining. I understand that it can be hectic at this time of the year and keeping up with volunteer obligations can be hard with travel and such. That is why I was posting. SORBA said that it was closed till Sunday and it is past that. I wasn't sure if there was another update or not.
Seenvic you have always been quick to answer any questions I may have and I greatly appreciate it, My statement did come off as a downer and I admit that I should have worded it differently. My apologies.
I would like to say that at least I am concerned and trying to keep up to date with trail conditions in an effort to conserve the wonderful trail system you have there. On the flip side, I could just go and ride and say the he!! with the trail, someone will fix it. So my "complaint" is out of good not just to be disgruntled.
 

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4000psi said:
Does wind help with drying up the trails?
Generally yes. I'd say more so on the properly outsloped trail that is just saturated after a good rain. Gravity and wind help dry these sections. But in season, the trees are our best friend as far as getting the water out of the ground.

Wind isn't much help in the spots that contain alot of clay, or where the tread has cupped and is holding water. FATS has its share of clay, and has its share of riders on soft tread. I can't think of anything else that is causing what was once an outsloped trail to become cupped other than wet/soft condition use.

The prevention of soft/wet condition use seems to be the best tactic at preventing more cupped tread and preventing more of the thousands of dips at FATS from holding water. Once the trail is holding water, it is similar to a glass of water on your desk. If you open all the windows, the wind isn't going to dry out that glass of water

On top of all that, we have another 75ish miles of trail that actually need wheels on them. They are 30-50 years old, have had bikes on them since the late 80's and see about 1/100 of the traffic FATS sees. I've been on them at times since FATS has been built and it seems like no one has been out there in months. When FATS gets soft, part of the plan is to direct local traffic to these trails to keep the forest from taking them back.

No one wishes FATS could be ridden 24/7/365 more than me. But I realize it can't and it would seem crazy to me to have spent 10 years working the USFS to allow these trails, another 4 years raising $300K to build them only to see them get destroyed. We keep horses and motors off them for environmental reasons. I look at the wet weather use of the bike riders as the same issue. If we are going to destroy it, why not let the equestrians and motorized users in there too?
 
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it only takes a few riders to jack up years worth of work riding in wet conditions.

however there's nothing like that feeling of a good day's work coming out of the woods all muddy.
 

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4000psi said:
Does wind help with drying up the trails?
Yes, wind can have a helpful drying effect on trails at all times of the year. There are however many reasons why trails trend to stay wetter in winter months:

-Less sunlight and sun is lower in the sky so less drying effect.
-As Bill pointed out, trees are dormant and not drinking water. Stream and rivers run at higher levels in the winter as a result, and water in soil is not pulled away by thirsty vegetation.
-Freeze/Thaw cycles (this is a big one here in the mountains). Soil that has some saturation to it is available moisture to freeze on cold nights. As water freezes, the liquid expands and becomes a solid and this expansion has a breaking apart effect of normally tightly compacted soil particles. Trails are fine when the soil is frozen, but mid day when things thaw out a bit the trails become soft (at best) or downright sloppy. When soils are frozen, the moisture contained in soils can not be evaporated.
-Differing types of precipitation in the winter effects trails greatly. Freezing rain and snow are slow and therefore tend to settle more than a harder rain (things in motion like to stay in motion, things at rest like to stay at rest).
-Types of soils certainly plays an effect. Sandy soils dry fast due to perculation (water flowing downward through soil layers), but lack binders to resist erosion. Clay is great when hard packed, but becomes a problem during periods of high saturation with little drying time.

As always, good design and construction are the best bets to get trails to dry faster than other trails. Grade reversals, micro drain dips, outslope are all great tools. I recommend 5-8% outslope during new trail construction as you will loose outslope pretty fast due to compaction.

And where needed, soil hardening with crushed stone or armor is recommended to make a trail more all weather. More on that in
Yes, wind can have a helpful drying effect on trails at all times of the year. There are however many reasons why trails trend to stay wetter in winter months:

-Less sunlight and sun is lower in the sky so less drying effect.
-As Bill pointed out, trees are dormant and a separate post.

Woody
 

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Hi all, I am originally from North Augusta, but now living in San Diego. I was an avid MTBer when i still lived in the CSRA. I was just home for Christmas at my parents. I was looking forward to riding FATS as my folks live 4 miles from the trailhead. Well I got rained out. I was able to ride Deep Step loop the day before the rain closure. But that was it. I was bummed but I respected the closures as I am used to things closing after rain. Is So Cal everything is closed after rain. I drove over to the trail head a few times to see if the trails were still closed. There were some vehicles I could tell were trail workers but was disappointed by the clueless folks either getting ready to disregard the closure signs or returning from a soggy (disregarding closures ride) rebel ride.

Seenvic's idea of during rainy times to go to the many miles of other trails in the area is a great one. That is what me and my wife did. I took her to Horn Creek trail (Lick Fork) and to the Modoc trail. They NEED you to ride them. All are still in pretty good shape but are kind of covered over by leaves and show very little use. Some moderate traffic would boost them right back to their earlier good condition.

I used to ride all the old trails back in the early 90's. They are good trails. Not as groomed as FATS. I am sure most folks at FATS are only really used to a trail in that type condition. But just a suggestion from an old CSRA'er; Hit up the old trails too! They may all get linked together someday and join FATS for some really epic riding. Plus every trail doesn't have to have woops and rollers in it. Just a good old fashioned trail is really fun too. Don't forget the old trails.

Hope I can hit up FATS for real next time I am at the folks place.

Thanks Seenvic!!
 

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Outstanding post, Bhoward. You are echoing what I, and a few others, have been preaching for nearly three years now (since FATS opened). We all know that FATS is a ton of fun, and the traffic there proves it, but it sure is fun to hit Horn, Wine, Turkey, Modoc, etc for some old-fashioned trail riding, roots, rocks and all. We just need to educate others and encourage them to ride the older trails.

The SO and I live just six minutes from FATS but drive past it regularly to hit the old-school trails.

Wish you would post this over on our local site www.sorbacsra.org

Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Bhoward,
I would like to say a couple things. The trails according to the SORBA site were open early that morning, anyone traveling a long distance did not know the trails closed down. Also Seenvic didn't come out and put closed signs up until after lunch time, so again some people didn't realize the closures.
I had a group out there and we drove 2.5 hours. The site said they were open, the forecast said sunny and 10% chance of rain (boy were they wrong), and there were no trail closure signs up. My group got caught a few miles out in the woods when the rain started and pretty much slowed down and did our best not to mess up trails. We also hit the trails that we were told would be the dryest... brown wave, skinny, and great wall. The only places that were wet were where they were placing the bricks, at least until the rain.
We are sorry that we were on the trails in wet conditions and like I said we tried to avoid the problem spots after getting caught out in the rain. Also it looked like everyone riding there was from out of town and probably had the same problem as we did.
Some people do blatantly disregard trail closures but others do their best to avoid hurting such a great trail system. Sometimes conditions are unexpected and unavoidable. And I want to say that I also agree with everything you have to say, when the situation is 100% avoidable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah man, it was great meeting you as well. We will come up and check out some of the other trails you mentioned in the future. We need to work on our climbing legs a bit first lol. Like I said, if you ever want a tour of Marington on a weekend, just let me know.
 

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Streamline you can relax. I was only posting a general comment. I saw a couple people gearing up and coming out of the trails when obvious trail closures are present. I even breifly spoke to two guys getting ready to ride as I read the closure sign. They acknowledged the trails were closed but were definitely not packing up to go elsewhere.

Please don't think I am trying to start some nasty debate on here. I am in SD; there are plenty of people arguing on our So Cal section about some of the dumbest possible subjects. I was simply sending a message of support for keeping the trails in good shape and getting those older trails some use. I was in town for all that rain and the older trails were in excellent condition considering. They are covered in leaves that soak up lots of the water. If they get more trafiic they may be soggy after rains but now they are a great option.

Next time you come up you could ride FATS and hit one of the older trails too. They are very close proximity to each other.

BHow
 

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I'd go as far to say this.

The message BHoward is sending is generally one to locals of the area in which FATS sits. His point is less germane to folks coming from out of town, generally.

We have an entire cadre of local riders who either started riding or moved here after FATS was built. The ""old school" trails aren't "old school" to them as they never lived/rode here when they didn't have FATS to ride. To them, FATS is mountain biking in the CSRA (the local area). I've mentioned the other trails to locals who HAVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF THEM, don't know where they are, or how to get there. Now there are others who are fully aware of the old trails and simply don't prefer them. They may have a point in the prime riding (dry) season, but to ride FATS when it's wet because you don't like a trail up the road is not a good point.

I know a few people who used to drive over from Atlanta back in the day to ride Modoc, Turkey and the other old school trails. Even more than a few from Savannah. I'd say from about 1992-2003, I met about 20 or so of these types. I am sure there were more, these were just the ones I met on the trail. I've met/seen thousands of people who have driven here to ride FATS. It is night and day to compare the draw of FATS to the other trails to most riders. Some of these riders are from 10 hours away and further who come just to ride FATS and turn around and go home.

But the locals could help us out more by going out to these older trails when FATS is wet. And I would think that is the most germane part of the point I and BHoward are making. Not so much that we both think SBD should consider driving here 2.5 hours to ride the other trails.

Now if you get here, find FATS closed and directions to another trail about 10-20 minutes away......driving 2.5 hours doesn't give you the right to ride FATS when it's closed.

The reason I post FATS conditions on MTBR is to stop folks from driving here from long distances to find it closed.

I'll close with the day SBD rode FATS - it wasn't closed. By the end of that day it was closed, and SBD didn't go back out after the closure.

I think we are on the same page for the most part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yep were were on the same page. I had to tell some of the guys that didn't understand that they needed to look at it differently. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears has gone into that place and something that takes an hour to build can take mere seconds to undo.
I honestly felt like crap when I came up on the first wet section, but we were already out in the woods and I just told the guy to avoid where they could avoid but to not get off the trail cause that is worse.
 
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