Crossposted from Double Forte:
How do you guys do it? I live and ride in Southern California and we rarely
have to deal with wet trails. If it rains, the trails are usually good-to-go a
day after a moderate rain, as the soil is mostly made up of rock, sand, and
We had a quick storm roll through Saturday night, and by 1pm Sunday afternoon,
after a day of sun (if crisp temps), we headed out to our usual trails in
Sycamore Canyon. Over the 25 miles we rode, two different 30-foot sections of
trail did us in. Muck. Clay. If I'da scooped some up and threw it on my
potter's wheel I probably could have turned a bowl or something.
As it was, it clogged up the tandem right quick. In that we were stopped within
those 30-foot sections due to drivetrain cloggage to the point I couldn't even
pedal forward, on or off the bike. It went downhill from there, with serious
shifting/drivetrain issues from that point forth, and a weird tube failure (made
all the worse because of having to change the flat with a completely mud-caked
Now, of course, it doesn't help that we run 2.5 WTB Dissents, which don't leave
much in the way of clearance or shedding. Still, that sort of Cr/mud just seems completely evil.
Combined with our experience on the
not-THAT-technical-compared-to-say-Washington-trails McKenzie River Trail in
Oregon...are we just not used to any sort of trail hardships?
Honestly, I never like riding wet clay or similar dirt on account of it gets real slippery at the wrong moment.
Thing is, sometimes you have to ride the stuff.
Hearing you say California, I'm going to assume this is more adobe like than Georgia red clay.
Either way, for us, the trick seems to be if the clay is just built up, but not stopping us, is to try and bounce each end of the bike to shake it off.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
If it gets real bad, I just tell the back seat, we need more power. But only sometimes.
Sometimes because, I know how heavy and nasty it is to drag a mud caked tandem to safe ground by myself.
Also, don't laugh out loud if your stoker leaves a shoe stuck in the mud and is doing her finest "so you think you can dance" ballet poses while trying to not put her bare foot down, but still pull the shoe out, thinking she will be able to put the shoe back on. Better to suck it up and go help with a piggy back or other means of help, but don't laugh until she does...
I was going to start a topic about mud too!
I have to ride in all kinds of mud and clay pretty regularly where I am on my single bike, not so much on the tandem yet because my wife is not so keen.
Thinner tyres are generally better for me on my own, but i've not had the chance to try many different ones on the long bike yet - any reccomendations?
One really noticeable thing is that the tandem is much more stable in the mud. I find we run out of rear wheel traction long before the front end slips, where on my own it could be any end that goes first.
Even with semi-slicks we have never binned it, just come to a gracious halt.
We don't ride mud very often, but I recall that the very first outing on our (at the time, my) tandem was in a rainstorm. Me and a buddy dared each other to ride it on a local night ride (weather report be damned). I had a Conti Traction Pro 2.1 on the rear and some 2.1 Spec'd tire up front - both of which had good traction and lots of clearance in the frame. We did bog down on a few climbs where the soil was somewhat mobilized by the weather. We actually did pretty well until the mud clogged between the tire and frame, due to a loss of traction. Stopping and backing up a little and kicking out the mud balls worked well enough. And I'm sure we emptied a water bottle on the derailleurs as we went to keep them functioning, but grip-shift seems to excel in those conditions. And really, no one on singles was having an easy time in the loose mud anyway.
Originally Posted by phill77
The best part of the whole ride was the uncanny stability of the tandem.
Between my buddy and I we had great horsepower and purposely overwhelmed the rear tire as often as possible - blasting rooster tails of mud at anyone unfortunate (or ignorant) enough to slog in behind us. As a team, we functioned poorly, but we developed a technique of continuous pedaling and tire spinning that allowed us to steer with our "throttle". The bike just seemed to always stay up no matter what stupid things we were doing (as long as I didn't completely lock up the front wheel - although it even tolerated that sometimes). It was non-stop laughs all the way. I wish I had video of us counter-steering with the rear tire roosting. Maybe low bottom brackets are good for something after all.
I think our mud bog technique was to go as fast as we could in a high gear and just spin the mud off the tire.
PS - wet clay (like slick GA red, or Ohio white) is a different story - my wife and I dumped it several times on fast, easy trails in the rain, but I guess the forgiveness compared to a single is noticeable.
I know that there are regions in which riding in the mud is common, else you might not ride for months. It's not that way in SoCal. Or I'm just a sissy.
Spent 5 hours yesterday cleaning the bike and other maintenance like new chains. A bit early, but the drive chain was probably done in from the mud. Also found areas on each side of the tire under the fork-lowers arch that was blasted by the grit when the front wheel was clogged but still rotating. Kinda crazy.
No sissy, Okayf, just respectful of the condition of the trails. Thank you!
We try to avoid mud riding and have done a good job of that here in SoCal. A day's wait usually does it unless there's been extended saturation beforehand.
Sometimes you don't have a choice. This mud in central NM shut me down hard on my single. I could not even push my bike through it. It stuck to parts and itself like I've rarely seen. In a 4x4 you hit the gas and spin that stuff off when you can; not exactly a strategy I could use. This pic is from after the field clean up...you can actually see the front der at this point.
I couldn't wait for the road to harden, so I strapped my mudded rig to my backpack and walked through the mud until I got to a spot I could push or ride. Whee...