Sometimes we wait all week to get to the weekend, where the mountain bike trails are waiting, and happiness is guaranteed.
Sometimes, the world forsakes us, and Fridays are filled with a torrential downpour leaving the question lingering:
Can you mountain bike after rain?
The issue is, riding on tacky mud can be incredibly enjoyable. The slight addition of moisture changes how your tires interact with the ground and form a whole new riding experience. On the other end, you can’t destroy a trail just because it feels a bit better.
This topic can be debated on both ends, and the simple answer is yes, but a more complicated answer would also say no.
Why? Because it depends.
Riding on incredibly wet trails will displace more soil, cutting the trail deeper and potentially ruining the riding for future bikers, as well as leaving too much of an impact ecologically. We’ll look at a couple of scenarios and give further answers on biking on wet mountain bike trails.
Reference all your sources
Deciding whether or not you should ride can be an ethically challenging situation. The first thing that you can do is head towards social media and other forums. If it’s been raining heavily, the chances are good that someone else has already checked the conditions. If that’s the case, they have also probably complained about it online.
Another move you can make is getting to know your trails intimately beforehand. The better you know the trails in your area, the more you can make an informed decision. Each trail will be different depending on the type of soil it is and how fast it will soak up water. In general, it’s safe(ish) to say, wait one day for every inch of rain that you get.
With all of this information, the decision still comes down to you. It’s time for your own best judgment to make the decision. If you’ve gone through the process of getting prepped and are already at the trailhead, but there are puddles everywhere, it may be incredibly difficult to turn around.
Love the trail you ride
Aside from just telling people not to go riding when it’s raining or when there has just been a huge storm, it’s important to remember how much we love biking. Our mountain bike trails provide the space for us to do one of the world’s greatest activities, and if we destroy them, it may be harder to do.
Giving love to the trail means making a judgment call based on yourself. Think about what is best for the ground we ride on almost every day. Even the trails that are built with proper drainage will eventually get flooded.
Overuse of the trail systems leads to destruction, especially when riders go out in the rain.
Think of future riders
Proper trail etiquette means thinking about other users before thinking about yourself. If you decide to go out and ride in the rain, what will that mean for the next people that come out on a dry day?
Will the ruts that your tires leave behind make the ride less enjoyable and possibly dangerous to future riders?
To put this into the grander scheme of things, think about access and the need for leaving a smaller footprint. If riders choose to ride around puddles rather than slowly through them, the trail will start to widen. This can lead to a need for shutting a trail down for restoration.
If we take care of the trails we are riding, the authorities will keep the trails accessible for future years.