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PSA: Don't Ride Wet Trails

Tej Mehta


To all the mountain bikers out there - don’t ride your local trails if they are wet.

This seems like something that can be overlooked, after all nobody wants to plan to go for a ride only to show up and have to go home. However, avoiding riding wet trails is crucial for preserving the future life of trails and consequently the future of the sport.

Mountain bike tires, unfortunately, can leave ruts in loose and muddy dirt. It might seem like ruts from one or two bikes may not cause damage, but even a single rut can get bigger when other riders or water go through it. In the Mid-Atlantic area this is especially a concern because the dirt easily sticks to wheels and doesn’t easily return to its original shape.

Everyone has seen where these ruts have caused problems, those low lying patches on the trail that have become deep and muddy puddles are perfect examples of ruts leaving a lasting impact on the trail.

Those muddy spots on the trail bring us over to the next topic - not riding around wet spots on the trail. Riding around wet spots on the trail is a really easy trap to fall into, its no fun to get your bike and potentially yourself dirty in a pile of mud. However, taking a detour around those spots has the unintended consequence of widening the trail. Trail widening pushes the trail into areas where the initial builders did not intend it to go, which can ruin the designs they put in place for drainage.

So, to respect the hours that the trail builders have put in, to respect other trail users who want to use non-damaged trails, and to make sure that you have a spot to ride in the future, stay off wet trails. During the winter or after a rainy day, consider going on a road or gravel ride instead. Sometimes a change of scenery and terrain could be a good thing anyway.

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