The verdict’s out: riding conditions suck so far this winter. The above-freezing temperatures coupled with daily rain have been wreaking havoc on the trail conditions in Minnesota. Because the nights have been below freezing, it has further prevented the trails from drying out.
When the trails are so soaked, the best thing to do is to stay off the trails. Riding on wet trails adversely affects the condition of the trail in the future. A well-built trail is designed so that the water drains across the slope rather than down the trail. When you ride on wet trails, ruts will form on the trail causing the water to flow directly down the trail.
As the water flows down through the ruts, those small ruts will begin to widen and runoff will begin to erode away the trail. If the ruts are not filled and the trail repaired, they pose a danger to riders whose front tires could be sucked down into one causing them to crash. Riding around ruts and puddles could also cause the trail to widen, potentially damaging the surrounding environment.
When you are riding and the trail is questionable, use your best judgement whether or not riding on the trail will harm it. There is a useful website that I go to check trail conditions before my ride so I don’t have to turn around once I get to the trailhead. MORC (Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists) is a non-profit volunteer organization that helps build and maintain many local mountain biking trails among a bunch of other things. They have a forum-style Trail Conditions page that lists the most up-to-date trail information for MN singletrack.
The conditions are posted by mountain bikers, like ourselves, which help other people determine whether or not to ride the trails. If you happen to live near or frequent a particular trail, it would be awesome if you would post trail conditions to help other people. If you are interested in volunteering to help build or maintain trails in MN, contact MORC through their contact form.
Hopefully, the weather and the trail conditions improve, so we all can start fat biking again!
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