With the spring coming soon (we promise, it really is) as the ground begins to thaw, please remember to tread lightly on the trails… Ride only when the trail is still frozen, watch for increased traffic due to excitement and please don’t widen the trail by riding around mud spots or ruts. If you’re rutting the trail, it’s not ready to be ridden. Here is a great explanation about winter freezing and spring thaws, from our friends at IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) and HMBA (Hoosier Mountain Bike Association)…
When soil freezes all the moisture turns to ice crystals between the particles of the soil and in clay or loam soil they are tightly packed together. As the moisture freezes, the crystals expand and tear the clay apart shattering it, then as it thaws the soil becomes more porous and allows more moisture in. This is repeated with every successive thaw. In Indiana we can get as many as 100 freeze thaw cycles in a season.
So, please be very careful when trying to ride the trails in the winter and then early spring. The best time to ride is when the trail is frozen solid. On days when the temperature goes below freezing at night, the worst thing we can do is wait for the sun to come out and warm up the trail before riding. The trails can be very soft even if it hasn’t rained recently. Even if the temperature stays below freezing South facing trails can defrost in sunlight and turn to mush.
If you are leaving ruts in the trail where you have ridden please leave the trail. The ruts will allow even more water to remain on the trail and make it even worse. If people see you riding they will want to ride too, so very soon the trail reaches a point of meltdown.
Thanks for abiding by these guidelines and helping us protect our trails. We’ll be able to get out there soon enough!