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  1. #1
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! The etiquette of mud in Central Oregon

    The first thought most people have is “Mud, in Central Oregon?”. While it true we live in a desert and for most of the year our trails are bone dry and if we do receive rain in the summertime it only improves trail conditions. However, in the winter and spring that situation is different, as our soils become saturated and frozen. Along comes a warm front or the spring thaw and we’re all psyched to head out to ride our bikes or go for a run. The trouble is as the top layers of trail start to thaw out it becomes muddy as there is nowhere for the water to go but to the surface. While other parts of our state laugh at what we call mud, the fact is the same issues arise on both sides of the Cascades. For some trails mud riding is acceptable for others it is not because of their sensitivity to lasting damage.

    In Central Oregon the trails west of Bend such as the River Trail, Phil’s area, Shevlin Park and the Peterson Ridge are those sensitive trails. Due to the thaw cycle they can be very soft in places and when we use them we leave behind tire ruts and post-holes. Those trails are particularly sensitive because they are composed of a high ash content soil, when it dries it leaves ruts which harden like concrete. Those hardened ruts tend to breakdown as the trail dries out going into summer, those areas are where later our corners are blowing out, the trail has been widened and swales are created which hold more mud for next year.

    So what, everyone else is doing it? While true the first tracks are most damaging, those that follow do make a significant impact as well. Why is that? Often riders, hikers and runners when they encounter a muddy rutted section of trail go around it and there by widening or changing the course of the existing trails. We are not only lucky, but have worked very hard to have such a large network of great flowing trails, widening and rerouting those trails takes away from all of our experience of enjoying single track trails.

    So what can and should you do?

    Recognize that if you are sinking into the trails you are impacting the trails negatively!
    Go early in the day BEFORE the trail thaws.
    If you want to go later in the day, on the Westside – use the extensive network of roads and stay off the trails.
    If you find yourself on a trail that has only a patch or two of soft goo, go straight through it to avoid widening the trail. If you hit a couple patches, turn around and head back to the trailhead and explore the dirt roads.
    Our winter riding areas in Central Oregon are the places to go and while there are impacts to those trails the results are different for two reasons: soil type is composed mostly of sand and we tend to only use those areas in the winter. While the riding experience is always better if you get on those trails before they thaw as well, it is generally acceptable to ride them when muddy instead of our Westside trails.

    Winter and early season riding areas include:

    The Maston – Offers great, relatively flat and fast trails that are the first in Central Oregon to dry out. Great for early season fitness. If you need more climbing or descending Cline Buttes is just across the highway.
    Horse Butte – The Coyote Loop trails SE of town offer amazing views and fun trails. If the snow permits the trails toward Swamp Wells offer additional mileage.
    Horse Ridge – The place to go for challenging winter riding. Expect to find plenty of lava rock.
    Smith Rocks/Grey Butte trails offer big climbs and even bigger views. Just be sure it’s dry, because the Bentonite clay of the area turns to peanut butter when wet.

    Resources for winter trails:
    Your local bike shop or:
    ormtb.com
    adventuremaps.net
    TREADMAPS - Virtual 3D Topographic Mountain Bike Trail Maps
    MTBR Oregon page
    cotamtb.com

  2. #2
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    Oh, and the Radlands in Redmond is open for business too!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeenYour Crash View Post
    Oh, and the Radlands in Redmond is open for business too!
    Thanks! Great reminder for everyone!!!! Might be worth addressing Fat Bikes.... Don't own one yet. Not sure of the impact.
    Phil's Trail Steward for COTA
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  4. #4
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    Fat Bike Best Practices | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    I can't speak for all Fat Bikers, but I seek out snow in the winter, not melt.
    life is simple: i want to be in love, drink good coffee, and ride my bike. --drew degeer

  5. #5
    Afric Pepperbird
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    I saw some riders at Smith Rock two days ago, on the brand new Summit Loop Trail (north side of park, off of Burma Road).

    This trail was slick and icy in the shade, yet very, very muddy (quicksand-like mud) in the sunny spots. I was hiking, and my shoes were sinking deep.

    I wanted to say something to the young whippersnappers, but I didn't.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by swolfe View Post
    Fat Bike Best Practices | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    I can't speak for all Fat Bikers, but I seek out snow in the winter, not melt.
    Thanks. Very helpful.
    Phil's Trail Steward for COTA
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  7. #7
    it means 'no problem'
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    bump...
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by sans soucie; 01-29-2013 at 12:54 PM.
    "“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Edward Abbey

  8. #8
    Dude, got any schwag?
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    Really like the idea of posted trail closures...
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Billy

    Speed is sweet, it's like an avenue to
    ... Shredtopia!

  9. #9
    it means 'no problem'
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSchwagman View Post
    Really like the idea of posted trail closures...
    Does this work?
    Attached Files Attached Files
    "“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Edward Abbey

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeenYour Crash View Post
    Oh, and the Radlands in Redmond is open for business too!
    I visited Radlands (which COTA lists as green) a couple times this past week and noticed there to be areas of mud throughout the trail. After reading about the effects of riding on muddy trails, would it be reasonable to suggest not riding it? I am new here at the forums, so this may not apply to all trails or perhaps it is only when the mud is still frozen as stated. Trying to find the ins and outs of where to ride before the higher trails dry out.

    Thanks

  11. #11
    Dude, got any schwag?
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    Quote Originally Posted by sans soucie View Post
    Does this work?
    I think so. Have any of these been put up? I'm happy to help if needed.
    Billy

    Speed is sweet, it's like an avenue to
    ... Shredtopia!

  12. #12
    Afric Pepperbird
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheSchwagman View Post
    I think so. Have any of these been put up? I'm happy to help if needed.
    Yes, they are up all over, even at Maston.

  13. #13
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    Sorry, the "Mud Theory" is plain BS. I can appreciate it on an intellectual level. The reality is people ride in the mud. They do make small ruts. However, the reality is they don't last long. How do I know this? Because I ride the trails frequently. So, let's all continue to biotch and moan about mud. I don't like riding in the mud, personally. But this harping on the "damage" caused, does not reconcile with reality.

    These complaints, I would suspect, are the same people who want to remove all rock obstacles. Phil's trail (the actual trail) has a few brief "rock technical sections". Over the past three years I have been in Bend, the minor obstacles have been "cleaned" more and more each year.

    Perhaps we should just pave the trails. We should also limit speeds to 3 Mph, and have spotters run along to catch us. Airbags! Yeah let's have those too. Please, just stay away from C.O.D.

  14. #14
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    Thank you for the reply. I used to ride the trails in Bend in the mid to late 1980's. It didn't matter what the trail condition was like nor were there any trail markers, displays or anything. Some of the trails I rode are gone due to population growth. With the newer mindset on trail maintenance and riding, I wanted to get an idea of what is acceptable and not get into an altercation while riding. As far as rock obstacles, downed trees and other hazards, I've always considered those to be part of the fun and challenge of being out in the forest. It is too bad about some of the trail changes, even the wood ladder on Mrazek being gone now. Mountains are rocky, jagged and dirty, so I would think that people who want to mountain bike would be prepared for terrain like than instead of smooth, maybe paved trails.

  15. #15
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    I really appreciate all the work COTA does for the Central Oregon Trail System. This whole mud issue is a joke though. A majority of our riding season is bone dry with two inches of moon dust on top. How does winter riding affect the trail condition during peak season? I understand the need to preserve our trails, but it’s really annoying that users can’t post about rides during Jan –April without getting a lecture about mud/ winter riding.

    I’m also pretty sure cyclist don’t mind ruts when they’re on 29er full suspensions, 6 inch travel All-Mtn bikes, and 4.0 tire Fat-Bikes. I have ridden all over Oregon, and California and it seems that trails have been evolving to new bikes, and what they are capable of. It seems that in Bend the Trails have taken a step backwards. I am about to pull out the 91’ Bridgestone MB-4 just so I can fit through the trees at the start of Ben’s Trail.

    My little rant aside I still would like to thank COTA for the work they do to our trails.

    -SS34x18

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ss34x18 View Post
    I am about to pull out the 91’ Bridgestone MB-4 just so I can fit through the trees at the start of Ben’s Trail.
    As bars get wider and tree's grow fatter, I'm getting better at the, "wheelie bar crank" to fit through at speed haha.
    Bend, Oregon

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Special J View Post
    Thank you for the reply. I used to ride the trails in Bend in the mid to late 1980's. It didn't matter what the trail condition was like nor were there any trail markers, displays or anything. Some of the trails I rode are gone due to population growth. With the newer mindset on trail maintenance and riding, I wanted to get an idea of what is acceptable and not get into an altercation while riding. As far as rock obstacles, downed trees and other hazards, I've always considered those to be part of the fun and challenge of being out in the forest. It is too bad about some of the trail changes, even the wood ladder on Mrazek being gone now. Mountains are rocky, jagged and dirty, so I would think that people who want to mountain bike would be prepared for terrain like than instead of smooth, maybe paved trails.
    Keep in mind that the vast majority of trail changes are due to nature and not due to trail workers. A great example is the ladder on Mrazek. The stump underneath had completely rotted out. Therefore, Phil made the correct decision to re-route the trail around it. I should have taken a picture when I was up there on Sunday. Obviously, it was no longer a viable feature. No doubt that mother nature will provide us with another opportunity to add a feature to Mrazek. Phil recently completed a cool flow section on Mrazek that is awesome. For everything you loose, you get more back. Think for a moment about what has been built in Wanoga. Amazing trails like Funner don't just happen. They get built!
    Phil's Trail Steward for COTA
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by yayoubetcha View Post
    Sorry, the "Mud Theory" is plain BS. I can appreciate it on an intellectual level. The reality is people ride in the mud. They do make small ruts. However, the reality is they don't last long. How do I know this? Because I ride the trails frequently. So, let's all continue to biotch and moan about mud. I don't like riding in the mud, personally. But this harping on the "damage" caused, does not reconcile with reality.

    These complaints, I would suspect, are the same people who want to remove all rock obstacles. Phil's trail (the actual trail) has a few brief "rock technical sections". Over the past three years I have been in Bend, the minor obstacles have been "cleaned" more and more each year.

    Perhaps we should just pave the trails. We should also limit speeds to 3 Mph, and have spotters run along to catch us. Airbags! Yeah let's have those too. Please, just stay away from C.O.D.
    A quick response to your rant. Not that it deserves a response. As a trail worker who has spent multiple seasons in the Spring removing ruts and other damage from trails like Phil's, you are incorrect in your assessment. The ruts can actually remain in place for months and do lead to longer term damage.

    Also, we do not CLEAN the trails. We do add dirt to stop erosion. Our objective is simply to counter the effects of erosion. The dirt we add settles over time and the features regain their "challenge". I have actually added rock to Phil's. The best trail work is not even noticed by the average rider. You will notice more "pavers" or rocks placed in the tread that help stop braking bumps in sections of Phil's Canyon for example. These are due to be placed over the next six weeks. Additionally, Phil's is not meant to be technical. If you want technical head over to GS, COD, or Wanoga. Cheers!
    Phil's Trail Steward for COTA
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  19. #19
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    Do not touch Phils Canyon! its perfect!!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ss34x18 View Post
    Do not touch Phils Canyon! its perfect!!
    I will take that as a compliment. Thanks!
    Phil's Trail Steward for COTA
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    Phil's Trail Facebook Page
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