Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 40 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey guys

trails have mostly unthawed by now and have left behind lots and lots of mud varying from small wet sections to deep mud pits. i've heard time and time again about fatbikes in mud and i've confirmed today that they make short work of riding in it.

although fun, i'm worried about long-term impacts on the trails and if i'm being selfish. sure i see a few other tracks out there but i was always told not to ride after a heavy rain so the trail doesn't get rutted...clearly when its this soggy its having the same impact.

i'm cool with hitting the pavement until things dry up, but what am i missing here? do proponents of mud riding have special mud pits they are riding in? do they just not care?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
893 Posts
Probably shouldn't ride wet singletrack. I'm in the same situation- went out yesterday and rode the freshly thawed trails, and while there were a lot of places where I wasn't really leaving any trails behind, there were definitely places where I was cutting ruts and I feel pretty bad about that.

If you're on a big fire road or whatever, probably not a big deal, but singletrack is pretty fragile. Or more to the point, leaving 4" wide rits behind on singletrack is a great way to get people to look at fatbikes in a bad way.
 

·
Loser
Joined
·
5,536 Posts
Agreed, don't ride when the trails are soft - 1) you leave ruts that are visible for a long time which do nothing but piss off the other trail users and 2) if the section of trail has any slope to it you have just created a channel for water which will lead to erosion of the trail.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
I ride mud on my private trails only. They also see lots of dirt bike use so mtb ruts aren't an issue. I did do a skinny vs fat test riding through same mud holes. fat did leave a mark but skinny was 3/4 inch deeper. I went back a week later after hole had dried and u can no longer see fat rut but skinny is still there. Rode a public trail today on fat. Had friend with me on skinny. There were a couple of small wet spots we went through and on way back we noticed you could see his rut only
My take is that you can probably ride sooner on fat without causing damage. Fat would be a good way to Smoot some ruts left by skinny if ride timing was right to
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
Stay off when wet. Either way, even if it does "less" damage, other trail users will see your bike and blame bikes for trail damage or encourage non-fat bikes to ride. In some areas, groups have gotten together to give riders a good name and give back to the parks, riding in the wet upsets people and unravels works these groups have done.

Bottom line, when the trails are wet, unless you have a hover bike, it is best to stay off them, especially singletrack. Most of my wet riding is done on the beach, powerline trails, or fireroads (all sandy where I live).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
893 Posts
Local trails are having a work day coming up soon, I think I'm gonna go and try and make myself feel better about riding yesterday.

Upper midwest gets especially bad in the early spring when you get 2-3 inches of thaw over what is still completely frozen ground- turns the top 2-3 inches into soup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,010 Posts
It goes against every instinct I have not to ride muddy trails. You are missing out...it is a blast!! But a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into them, and the best way to respect that effort is by doing what you can to not damage the trails.

Now with that out of the way, try to find some stuff off the beaten path that you can ride. Ride creeks, rivers, lakes....whatever. It is soooooo much fun to mud bog with some meaty tires. You will come out filthy and wet, but the smile on your face won't wash off in the shower like the mud will.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
585 Posts
I'm cruisin for a brusin here but I'll call it a PSA for anyone considering riding in mud. It can get ugly quick. I guess the lesson here is know your mud. This is the result of about 50 yards worth of thawing trail:

Yellow Trunk Plant stem


I literally picked up about 30lbs worth of mud infused with dead grass that gave it structure making it a pita to scrape off. Needless to say that ride ended there with a ride back home on the road. There was no smile to wash off but I did spend about an hour cleaning off my bike. The trail has recovered and I've done trail work so please don't ban me for this transgression.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
337 Posts
Riding in the mud isn't a big deal where I am (northeast.) It really depends on your soil type and the drainage of your trails. Our trails see foot, horse and bike traffic without any issues. Even the heavily post holed up muddy areas from the horses are no worse for wear after a few weeks of dry weather. I've been on some of the same trail systems for over 20 years and they are no worse for wear. I prefer to ride when it's dry but if you don't ride when its wet here then you don't ride more than 2 or 3 months.

Don't fall into the false narrative that bikes do more damage than walking. There hasn't been a single study to support that bikes damage the trail. In fact, the study that had been done states that bikes have no more an effect than feet. The biggest destroyer of trails is heavy water and a steep grade. If a trail is built properly, it doesn't matter if a bike or person uses it. If mother natures decides to dump a great deal of water in a short amount of time, the earth (trail or no trail) will see erosion. I do trail maintenance that includes armoring trails in places needed but this isn't a bike issue and it would need done regardless of who uses the trails. While I am on my soap box...I don't think any user group in this area spends more time and energy maintaining trails than mtn bikers. In my area, I don't see anything getting done that isn't accomplished by a small group of dedicated individuals that ride.

And because this is a fat bike forum: My Pugsley works great in the mud, definitely more traction than a skinny and lots of mud clearance for debris to pass through the frame. I run nate and nate but recently switch to a larry in the back and with low enough pressure (6psi) it also works really well. The only downside is that those big tires get HEAVY in the mud.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,133 Posts
I've noticed on the trails that I ride, mainly sloped mountain trails, that after a single heavy rainfall, more trail erosion occurs than 100 years of mountain bike tracks could ever hope to achieve. This has convinced me that trail Nazis need to get a hobby, and stop being the hall monitors of life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,492 Posts
Here in Scotland if we didn't ride on wet trails, we'd never ride.

We generally don't get overuse problems though because the traffic is spread over more trails. That is one benefit of the open access laws in Scotland, you don't get the bulk of the population forced on to a limited number of trails. We don't even have to stay on a trail and can go crosscountry.

Also our natural trails tend to evolve and wind around areas that become boggy.

A couple of years ago I did a bit of research into trail damage for my own interest (nothing scientific, just went and looked at them at various stages of the weather and measured the depth of the holes).

My opinion was that on anything soft enough for ordinary mtbs leave to deep grooves, a walker left holes nearly as deep. Taking a fatbike on low pressure through hardly left a mark, or if ridden over the skinny wheel ruts, flattened them out nicely.

The absolute worse thing was horses, they break up quasi soft surfaces that skinny bikes and walkers leave undamaged.

There's mud and there's mud. The claggy stuff stops just about anything, but there's lots of rideable muds and they are fun.

Generally speaking we don't have trail Nazis here because everyone is entitled to use the trails, so when you meet other users such as walkers, it's friendly. However I have noticed that the only people you'll see fixing a trail are usually mtbers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,158 Posts
Just spent 3 hours doing trail maintenance at my local park here in NJ on Saturday. Mountain bikes (including fat ones) definitely cause some trail damage from riding in the mud. The most serious damage is where the trail cross section is u-shaped, and people ride up the sides of the trail to escape the mud.

Local customs (and peer pressure) dictate the etiquette of when it's OK to ride. The most vocal people in these parts tend to be MTB riders who put in the TM hours. I wouldn't call them "trail Nazis".

Interestingly, out of 43 people who showed up for Saturday's session, less than 25% were mountain bikers, in contrast to 20 years ago when nearly all of the volunteers were riders.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
893 Posts
It does definitely depend on your local trail conditions. It's one of those things where, if you have to ask, you probably already know the answer.

Do walkers do damage to muddy trails? you bet they do. BUT, we can't control them. We can control ourselves. And we pretty muck know when we're actually screwing things up.

Best thing you can do is know your local trail conditions.

I've lived places where trails never get super muddy, ride in the rain no problem.

Southern wisconsin gets a pretty hard ground freeze, and when it starts to thaw, especially with all the snow that's melting (it was knee deep in my back yard 2 weeks ago, now it's almost all melted), you end up with a couple thawed inches of ground that's soupy and wet and sitting on top of ground that is still completely frozen.

So around here, it's just not a great idea to go out riding right after melt. And I knew that when I went out. Which makes me a bit of a hypocrite.
 

·
Loser
Joined
·
5,536 Posts
I totally agree, this is a local decision. I live in the Northeast US and there are very few times when the entire state is no good for riding - most times you can find the place that's in good shape.

This past weekend was a perfect example of that - I saw messages from the builders at several places that said "stay off, trails too soft", I think if you ignore those requests from the builders/maintainers you're being a jerk. You can justify anyway you want, but if the guy who put in the hours asks you to stay away, stay away!

I went to a place that was only a few miles away from one of those places, but its up a lot higher and was perfectly dry, even for my skinny tired bike.

I completely agree that horses do the worst damage, but as BF says we can only control ourselves here.

I am extremely lucky to live in a place where there are few user conflicts, and I'd like to keep it that way. Leaving deep ruts in the spring won't help that situation. And yes a well built trail will fare better than a poorly designed one, but if you're riding a poorly designed trail when its soft, you're still accelerating the erosion problem.

I have a park nearby where I've spent MANY hours building and maintaining trails, its always disappointing to see those deep ruts in the spring, I'll spend my hours fixing those rather than building new trail.
 

·
Location: SouthPole of MN
Joined
·
1,711 Posts
hey guys

trails have mostly unthawed by now and have left behind lots and lots of mud varying from small wet sections to deep mud pits. i've heard time and time again about fatbikes in mud and i've confirmed today that they make short work of riding in it.
Yeah, any time we are talking about riding in mud around this forum it is not referring to purpose-built single track. A lot of us are volunteers in our local mountain bike clubs and would never ride wet/muddy trails.

Your options:
A. Private land
B. Road ditches
C. ATV trails (if allowed)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
This past weekend was a perfect example of that - I saw messages from the builders at several places that said "stay off, trails too soft", I think if you ignore those requests from the builders/maintainers you're being a jerk. You can justify anyway you want, but if the guy who put in the hours asks you to stay away, stay away!

I have a park nearby where I've spent MANY hours building and maintaining trails, its always disappointing to see those deep ruts in the spring, I'll spend my hours fixing those rather than building new trail.
Wise words, sir. I just walked my local trail that I build and maintain as part of the trail care crew and even at 9am and ~20 degree temps it was very sloppy in the usual places that need extended periods to dry. I can't imagine what it looked like at 3pm.

There were skinny tired bike tracks/ruts through those sections, so clearly there are always going to be those usual jerks that ignore all of our efforts, don't volunteer time to help build/maintain and think they know when it's ok to ride. There are certain users in my area that think they are mountain bike advocates that purposefully ignore the trail status and will ride- and want nothing to do with our club. It's frustrating, but what can you do?

Hopefully after we built and installed this yesterday, the "I didn't know the status" excuses will cease to exist. Bottom portion is reversible with a green "OPEN" on the other side. Can't wait to ride some singletrack!

 
1 - 20 of 40 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top