Trail conditions. When not to ride and why.

Rockland Preserve, like many other riding spots that are open to the public are built and maintained by volunteers.  These public spaces welcome mountain bikers and expect them to know the basics about when NOT to ride.  This is about when and why to stay away from riding trails.  Appreciation for these guidelines help us maintain access and sustain the best trails to ride.

Conditions least favorable to riding:

  1. Thaw days.  Mud released from thawed earth sits on the surface with hard ice beneath and leaves the top layer like pudding that is unsafe and unsound to ride.  Leaf blown trails exacerbate the problem.  Ruts develop quick that might freeze and turn to cement in hours and stay for weeks.  Below 32 degrees is great riding.  Above the 32 degree mark is bad news.
  2.  Rainy/Muddy Trails.  Riding in mud is tempting but bad for trails.  All that mud on your bike and in your teeth at the end of a ride is the dirt that makes great riding so fun.  Wet trails take less time to dry in the Summer with vegetation around than in Winter.
  3. Trails through marshy areas.  Proper trail planning should eliminate the need to cross wetlands, but those wet areas are sensitive ecosystems and should absolutely be avoided by foot and wheel when wet.
  4. Fresh dirt in poor conditions.  Packing in soft dirt makes riding better, but in poor conditions it ruts fast, pushes dirt off the trail, and ruins features.
  5. Night.  Rockland management insists on not allowing night riding because they cite that it is less safe to ride, harder to make rescues, disturbing to neighbors, and lights disturb sensitive wildlife.  Different management has different policies.  Respecting their wishes is essential to maintaining relations.

How to handle poor conditions:

  1. Avoid the trails.  If you know conditions are bad, keep the big wheels on the rack and grab the road bike.
  2. Choose fire roads.  You’re at the lot and ready to ride and you know you made a bad choice.  Mud everywhere.  If you’re going to ride, stick to the fire roads.  Stay off those sensitive singletracks.
  3. Don’t spread the mess.  If a puddle is right in front of you, don’t widen it by riding around.  Head straight through the center.

Trail erosion

Stripped soil–> rock exposure and channeling–> rutting –> nasty, not fun riding

Well-designed trails

Avoid the fall line, control drainage, avoid wetlands…. Still need time to dry!

Thank you!

To all the riders that respect trail closures, plan according to conditions, and help educate other riders.   Enjoy many great riding days!

 

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