The saddle needs ridden or the rubber will dry. If one is reading this column, you are trying to become a better steward of outdoor assets you enjoy. There is not a single mountain biker that likes to shelve their steed when winter hits. The frost tends to put dust on the bike and rust on one’s skills.
Now you don’t have to shelf that bike. Knowing where to ride and proper conditions to ride in is a major part of mountain biking. Riding muddy trails due to rain or improper drainage will damage them. This ends the fun for all who come after the selfish people putting rubber to mud.
Yes, a long time ago many of us were “that guy,” and mud runs seemed to be a norm. I remember a time when rain came and water flowed more than one toothy grin was had. That of course was before the child in me knew the money and time put into maintaining proper trails. Also, the efforts that have gone into gaining access to land for trails should be remembered.
Two years ago I began volunteering with the local SORBA chapter building at Winged Deer Park. The amount of effort that was put into making a trail that would properly drain, maintain a packed surface and the thought that went into flow was astonishing. Who knew a bunch of people who like to send it were so smart?
Stop there for a moment. The stereotype in the previous question was on purpose, one that a friend tells me we need to change. A lot of time people stereotype mountain bikers as 18- to early 20-year-olds just being dangerous going fast. It is not like that. One would be surprised to learn that a lot of trail builders are also everyday professionals.
Men, women and children all seem to be out there with a McCloud, tool for raking and packing dirt, sledgehammer or shovel in hand. There are business owners, students and computer programmers, and even the occasional journalist/documentary filmmaker.
Building trails can change the way one rides forever by creating a greater desire for conservation. Mountain biking is no longer a fringe “extreme sport” either. The price of a decent bike can easily be over $1,000 and quickly climb. The sport can also be a path to college for those talented enough.
This has all been said so that one can get to know a little about why we are here. Mountain bike trails and trails in general, take a lot of time and money to create. They do not appear out of thin air. It takes time, planning and forward-thinking to do it properly.
“There is no such thing as trail gnomes,” Nathan Cole is fond of saying.
He is correct too. Next time one thinks about riding muddy trails think about this, please. You are undoing a lot of work others have put in, maybe even your own.
This week is not looking good for area trails. The weather is forecasting rain most of the week. This means muddy trails looking forward. Make sure to pay attention to overnight lows and observe the freeze/thaw effect. If it is below freezing then one may be able to squeeze in an early morning ride. That does not look likely this week.
Make sure to check back next week for more updates. There will be some trail-specific information and work days that one can attend. One such event is today at Winged Deer Park from noon to 4 p.m.
There have been plenty of trees downed by previous storms in many areas. Help removing them is always appreciated, but get permission by land managers before cutting trees.