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  1. #1
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    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking

    In one of my Facebook groups, someone posted a really nice photo of their bike on a summit covered in snow. Some people chimed in and said it's bad practice to ride your bike on snow covered tracks because it will mess up the trails come spring.

    A couple of members who volunteer to maintain the trails said it adds extra work to a very small crew who cares for the mountain trails. They linked this article to help other riders understand things: https://www.bicycling.com/rides/a200...kFCWLF80pqIBYU

    Granted, every environment is different. My local mountain has snow on the summit and is mostly wet on the bottom half where some of us ride during the winter.

    What do you guys think of the article and the idea of not riding on snow trails?
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  2. #2
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    Seems to be talking about mud and ruts, I agree 100%, when the trails start to thaw, riding them in that thawed condition screws us over, the ruts often do not come out and make it take that much longer for the trail to dry out. Then we have to attempt to fix the damage during trailwork days. This is especially frustrating in some flow sections or landings, where it'll be all crazy uneven due to idiots riding it in the soft season.

    The soil in these places is like a sponge, it's filled with moisture, whether solid or melted, until the sun comes along and bakes it enough, it's like riding through clay which will harden to the last shape, which will mean ruts and bad erosion.

    If you start real early, you might be able to ride them while it's still frozen, but when the trails start looking like this, that happens real early in the morning. We try to keep people off the trails and the local trail managers let the public know when the trails are good to be ridden.


    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-29695405_10101430690856248_6982103311265972912_n.jpg

    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-29597964_10101430690781398_1743131269248985613_n.jpg

    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-29573022_10101430690866228_5756561537917062570_n.jpg

    Frozen trail or snow on frozen trail doesn't matter. That stuff frost-heaves as soon as it freezes. Riding that does nothing significant to the trail, as it's frozen.

    The article is not applicable to riding on frozen/snow covered trails with frozen ground IMO.
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  3. #3
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    And part of this is how saturated the soil has become from the snow sitting on it and melting during these cycles. In other places, having some snow on the cold trail surface doesn't amount to much of anything, because it's just a few inches and the underlying soil is not saturated or above freezing.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  4. #4
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    The presence of snow is not the primary issue. Like Jayem said, it's whether the dirt itself is frozen or not. If the dirt is frozen, then there's no problem at all. Further, if the snow is deep enough that you're not riding on the dirt, anyway (frozen or not), it doesn't matter.

    Now, it's entirely possible for the ground to NOT be frozen when the snow fell on it. In that case, the snow will act as a blanket, preventing the ground from freezing even if the air temp gets well below freezing. As the snow is packed or melts (from above OR below), you'll get a muddy mess that's best to avoid. If the snow has been thawing (and then refreezing overnight), then you're going to wind up with a nasty mix of heaved soil plus ice crystals. Certain clays, in particular, get an especially nasty, gooey texture under these conditions and it's a bad idea to ride in it.

    Sometimes, the trail beneath is sandy or rocky enough that what's happening with the temperatures (freezing or thawing) doesn't matter as much.

    I lived in a part of the country for many years that got far more frequent freeze/thaw cycles than NC (or wherever the pic was taken). And the soil type was the sort that handles freeze/thaw conditions very poorly on trails. As such, avoiding freeze/thaw conditions was a pretty hard rule. Here in WNC, I see the trails handling those conditions MUCH better. I still avoid riding in the worst of those conditions, because there are certainly spots with soils that aren't durable to riding in those conditions. But my experience here is that it's not nearly the hard rule that it was in the midwest. There are a number of trails that do fine under those conditions.

    This year has been especially wet for WNC, though finding exact annual totals, even for a single weather station, has been a surprising PITA. Meaning, without manually adding monthly totals, no website is tallying that information on an annual basis. All of which, of course, pushes me closer towards installing a weather station at my house that will allow such records to be tallied automatically on my computer.

  5. #5
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    A lot of this stuff is interesting. Some of my friends told me that their trails close down for the winter. I'm guessing it could be related to safety and preservation of the trail system.

    I guess I'm lucky that we don't have a ton of WA trails that close down in winter. My local mountain does have a snow line and from what it seems, most of the riding community just stays on the lower half where there isn't snow. I can see why most of the riders stick to bike parks in the winter (at least in my area).
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  6. #6
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    The big damage I've seen has been from getting a heavy rain when the trails have those deep ruts. Won't matter a bit how much care was put into building the trails. Kingdom Trails, VT doesn't close for rain in the summer, but does close for a thaw.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    A lot of this stuff is interesting. Some of my friends told me that their trails close down for the winter. I'm guessing it could be related to safety and preservation of the trail system.

    I guess I'm lucky that we don't have a ton of WA trails that close down in winter. My local mountain does have a snow line and from what it seems, most of the riding community just stays on the lower half where there isn't snow. I can see why most of the riders stick to bike parks in the winter (at least in my area).
    It just depends where you are and what the local conditions are, as well as how intensively managed the trails are and how heavy the traffic is.

    One person riding on top of a few inches of slushy snow on top of thawed trail isn't likely to be a problem. 50 people are going to pound the snow out and start rutting up the trail into muddy slop.



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    I wish we could close trails during freeze/thaw. So many folks don’t understand the damage they do or don’t care. I get pissed off when a trail is like a railroad switching yard from frozen ruts leftover from riders riding in the muck. I know it’s a sore point at my local club forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
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    Those are ruts?

    Guess this is prime example of why "flow" trail is silly. Can't take anything other than perfect weather conditions to be ridden on.
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  10. #10
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    Freeze thaw cycles are the worst. This is when the worst possible damage can be done to the trails all year, depending. If it's a hand groomed trail stay off it unless it's frozen hard. If it's a high erosion zone/low land area that is a natural spot that won't require repair, have at it.

    Lastly, If you ride trails that are muddy any time of year, get out there and volunteer on trail work days. They need more help and you'll meet some cool people. Trails wouldn't exist if there weren't people out there with rakes and shovels.
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  11. #11
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    We ride the same trails all summer, fall and winter until they are mud in the spring then we stay off.

    It does nothing to them unless you are leaving mud ruts.

    I will say here... hikers and dog walkers being our trails are in the city limits get absolutely cratered in spring but the same ones that wreck them seem to smooth them out as they dry as if seen them absolutely wrecked after a wet time then silky smooth like they were raked. Its a double edge sword... they wreck but they smooth out. Biggest damage ive fixed is run off washing out trenches down the trails.


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  12. #12
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    Our trails are sandy loam with a fair amount of iron ore rock mixed in (most of the system is overburden from iron mining around for most of the 20th century).They drain quickly and even during a heavy rainstorm they’re only closed while it’s raining.Typically they’re good to ride without damage about an hour after the rain stops. The one problem we do have for the volunteer crew that maintains them year round is freeze-thaw. That does soften them up to the point where mountain bikes cause damage. In early spring, we ride early mornings until it warms up enough to start thawing the trails. They aren’t officially “closed” but rangers “strongly encourage” folks to stay off. Later in the spring the trails are closed until the ground stops freezing at night. This being Minnesota...that could well go into April.

    In the winter here, it’s not a problem. Once the ground freezes, it’s frozen for the winter.

  13. #13
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    Freeze-thaw cycles are the reason I got into road cycling. When I got back into mtb in 2006, the trails would often close in the winter as the temperature would drop down below freezing but not stay there for long. After riding my full suspension bike on a rails to trail, I realized how inefficient if was. I'm planning on riding the same rails to trail this afternoon due to all the rain we've had, though it is quite warm.

    More recently the trails rarely close due to freeze-thaw; probably a combination of better trail construction and maintenance and warmer weather trends.
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    If you live in a place where you get long hard winters and the snow stays packed on trails for months on end, it’s not a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thecreeper23 View Post
    If you live in a place where you get long hard winters and the snow stays packed on trails for months on end, it’s not a problem.
    Until the spring....

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    Here in the Cascades nothing seems to deter trail riding on the west side. Feet of rain or freeze/thaw the trails typically remain in good shape. Infact most trails could use more traffic because stuff grows incredibly fast. There are exceptions of course, but they are far and few between.

    The East side (dry side) is a different story. Much more clay content and freeze/thaw is a big deal. Once those ruts dry out they're pretty much cast. Some rain makes them ride fantastic and is infact the only time I ride them. To much moisture and it's the proverbial peanut butter. Sometimes it can be a fine line between hero dirt and grease.

    I'm good freinds with a guy who got what is now a destination trail system off the ground in our home town back east. I'm FB friends the trail page and the pleas to stay off the trail for freeze/thaw/ rain, well the frustration is palpable. When we talk and I tell him that's a non-issue out here it doesn't compute. He peppers me with questions every time, like he's angry we're disrespecting the trail builders. I kind of get a kick out of the exchanges.

    I like the point about 1 tire vs 50 tires somebody made above. A little common sense and self discipline go a long way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    In one of my Facebook groups, someone posted a really nice photo of their bike on a summit covered in snow. Some people chimed in and said it's bad practice to ride your bike on snow covered tracks because it will mess up the trails come spring.

    A couple of members who volunteer to maintain the trails said it adds extra work to a very small crew who cares for the mountain trails. They linked this article to help other riders understand things: https://www.bicycling.com/rides/a200...kFCWLF80pqIBYU

    Granted, every environment is different. My local mountain has snow on the summit and is mostly wet on the bottom half where some of us ride during the winter.

    What do you guys think of the article and the idea of not riding on snow trails?
    The article has nothing to do with snow. It has to do with the freeze thaw cycles in spring. Riding trails before they thaw out leaves them a mess here in MA. No issues with riding my fat bike on snow in the middle of winter with frozen ground.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    The article has nothing to do with snow. It has to do with the freeze thaw cycles in spring. Riding trails before they thaw out leaves them a mess here in MA. No issues with riding my fat bike on snow in the middle of winter with frozen ground.
    Here, riding them before they thaw is no problem. The problem comes in the early winter and in the spring when the ground surface freezes at night and thaws during the day. Those times of the year generally mean you can ride the trails, but only early in the morning until the it gets warm enough to thaw the surface, or at night after the sun goes down and the surface freezes. Those are the freeze-thaw cycles that are bothersome around here as it keeps you off the trails during the nicer part of those spring days/

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
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    You guys are complaining about this?!!! Good grief, you need to toughen the feck up ;0) Here was me thinking this was a mountain bike forum...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    You guys are complaining about this?!!! Good grief, you need to toughen the feck up ;0) Here was me thinking this was a mountain bike forum...
    Not everyone wants their mountain biking to be the ultimate off-road adventure. And, if no maintenance is done to those trails pictured, they will get worse and soon be unrideable by even the most hearty porcine Scotsman.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    You guys are complaining about this?!!! Good grief, you need to toughen the feck up ;0) Here was me thinking this was a mountain bike forum...
    Agreed. I wouldn't want to do a ride where I see that consistently, but if I hit a couple spots like that over the course of 10-15 miles I wouldn't think twice.

    The middle picture in particular is just a piece of cupped trail... It's gonna look like that forever until someone de-berms it so why sweat it?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    You guys are complaining about this?!!! Good grief, you need to toughen the feck up ;0) Here was me thinking this was a mountain bike forum...
    Haha...l would tend to agree, especially many years back this would be a non-issue. However we have a mtb specific trail system, Post Canyon, in Hood River OR that is clay heavy soil. It freezes at night then typically thaws during the day. Combine that with hundreds of bikers and it can basically ruin the trail tread for an entire season.
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  23. #23
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    If those are heavily travelled trails, they will be widened as people ride around the mud.
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  24. #24
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    In the UK, even on custom-built mountain bike trails, that sort of impact would not be considered damage and nothing would be done about it. Over time the trails change. They may widen, get rutted in parts or move around eroded areas but they are largely allowed to develop on their own. Yes, eventually some parts can get boggy etc and need fixed but if you try to keep every inch of trail in exactly the same condition year after year you'll go mad.

  25. #25
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    I manage a ~20 mile network in a rec area. In winter the trails are open, and I'm in the process of procuring a fatbike groomer. In the spring though, during the freeze/thaw cycles I do close the trails down until they firm up.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    You guys are complaining about this?!!! Good grief, you need to toughen the feck up ;0) Here was me thinking this was a mountain bike forum...
    We don't take lightly to people screwing up the trails in the spring, huge ruts form when people keep riding the soft trail, ruts deeper than your tires, they fill with water and become crazy bogs, the soil here has a lot of moisture and it seeks the low points. Then people start riding around the holes and they become huge wide sections. No one wants to fly off a jump into a mess of ruts that will catch your wheel. These get so deep you have no idea what exists in the deep puddle hole. Digging down to install a drain pipe in a section of trail last season, below a certain level the soil (in the summer) had the consistency of jello pudding. At least later in the season it's further down, but the pictures above were of the damage just starting because the snow cover was disappearing. As the freeze-thaw cycles continue, the soil gets softer and softer, until all the snow is gone and it starts drying out again.

    Basically, with this kind of soil (like a sponge) with the snow sitting on top of it and saturating it, the ruts that form do not come out and they get deep and they in turn mess up the erosion control for the trail and create sections that remain bogs and get deeper and more rutted out. This one is a little further in the "process":Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-31073259_10101444066960428_928786364227387392_o.jpg

    After the snow melts completely, we need about 2 weeks of good dry sun-baked goodness to dry out the trails and get them at least close to being rideable without creating a ton of damage that will have to be fixed. These trails were meant to be fun and rideable for a variety of skill levels, but given the nature of the soil here, everything needs to dry out first. With the permafrost that exists here and just the crazy amount of fresh-water, moisture just doesn't "go away" or "drain out" of the soil like in other places, but once we can control the erosion and not have puddles, it dries much faster and then remains resistant to water/rain effects later in the season.


    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-12718001_1087080108017123_9210796627985347744_n.jpg
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    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-img_20150314_164037894.jpg

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by drag_slick View Post
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    That's exactly what happens, but even worse.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
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    This is what a lot of natural trails in Scotland look like much of the year. We just...ride them. Maybe it's slightly trickier than riding on a footpath but I guess we're tough.

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    I think it can be difficult to appreciate unless you see it, though Harold did a pretty thorough job explaining it. The trail system I mentioned you'd end up with a 15' wide trail with a 3' deep rut to the center. It still happens in spots but at least not the entire system. I would agree a lot of this gets overblown. Conditions vs amount tires is going to vary quite a bit region to region
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    This is what a lot of natural trails in Scotland look like much of the year. We just...ride them. Maybe it's slightly trickier than riding on a footpath but I guess we're tough.
    Our trails are closed (preferably) well before even parts of the system look like this. Whomever's tracks these are didn't check the Facebook/Twitter/webpage before they unloaded their bikes. Other trail systems might have a different concept, and the only option for some places is leaving the trails "natural", but here the emphasis is on meticulous grooming and maintenance.


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    Here's a picture of the path on Dumyat, just behind Sterling. Sections are worse than this with deeper, narrower ruts. It varies. You can ride a trail one year and the next it will look totally different. You can see how people have created new paths here and what's wrong with that? It's fun to ride. I fell off three times the first time I was there.

    Lower down the hill they have flattened it out and put gravel paths in. Feck off! Who wants to ride a 'trail' your granny could run her wheelchair up? Is this a mountain bike forum or what?

    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-1563684_3c16d3cc.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Our trails are closed (preferably) well before even parts of the system look like this.
    Trails and paths in Scotland don't close. They are open all year round. The only time they close is for logging operations where applicable. Trees fall over the trail, landslides cover it, still open. You just figure out how to get over or around. You may have to go through a bog, too bad. You want to go up a hill in the depths of winter? Go for it. Mountain Rescue will try to find you before you die but no one will stop you going up.

    It's the countryside, deal with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Here's a picture of the path on Dumyat, just behind Sterling. Sections are worse than this with deeper, narrower ruts. It varies. You can ride a trail one year and the next it will look totally different. You can see how people have created new paths here and what's wrong with that? It's fun to ride. I fell off three times the first time I was there.

    Lower down the hill they have flattened it out and put gravel paths in. Feck off! Who wants to ride a 'trail' your granny could run her wheelchair up? Is this a mountain bike forum or what?

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    Beautiful countryside! We don't allow hikers or runners on our mountain bike trails.

    But we do deal with the countryside....we tame it relentlessly and bend it to our will.

    Different strokes...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    A lot of this stuff is interesting. Some of my friends told me that their trails close down for the winter. I'm guessing it could be related to safety and preservation of the trail system.

    I guess I'm lucky that we don't have a ton of WA trails that close down in winter. My local mountain does have a snow line and from what it seems, most of the riding community just stays on the lower half where there isn't snow. I can see why most of the riders stick to bike parks in the winter (at least in my area).
    Which trail are you talking about?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    We don't allow hikers or runners on our mountain bike trails.
    Everyone can go pretty much anywhere. Trail centres are different but even there you'll find hikers and people walking dogs. We all just kinda get along, most of the time.

    Nowhere in Scotland is more than an hour from a place that looks like that. Usually much less. Nowhere is flat. Everywhere is surrounded by hills and most of those hills have paths on them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Everyone can go pretty much anywhere. Trail centres are different but even there you'll find hikers and people walking dogs. We all just kinda get along, most of the time.

    Nowhere in Scotland is more than an hour from a place that looks like that. Usually much less. Nowhere is flat. Everywhere is surrounded by hills and most of those hills have paths on them.
    Our trails are purpose-built for mountain biking. They take it seriously.

    Never been to Scotland, need to go. My index forebear was from Tarbert, centuries ago. So the geneologists say....

  38. #38
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    YOU want people to not mess up YOUR trail? go buy your OWN land

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    In the UK, even on custom-built mountain bike trails, that sort of impact would not be considered damage and nothing would be done about it. Over time the trails change. They may widen, get rutted in parts or move around eroded areas but they are largely allowed to develop on their own. Yes, eventually some parts can get boggy etc and need fixed but if you try to keep every inch of trail in exactly the same condition year after year you'll go mad.
    Not everyone rides in the UK. All that rain you'll go mad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Trails and paths in Scotland don't close. They are open all year round. The only time they close is for logging operations where applicable. Trees fall over the trail, landslides cover it, still open. You just figure out how to get over or around. You may have to go through a bog, too bad. You want to go up a hill in the depths of winter? Go for it. Mountain Rescue will try to find you before you die but no one will stop you going up.

    It's the countryside, deal with it.
    Lots of snow or only the occasional freeze thaw cycles? MA rider here. So much is soil dependent. We head down to Cape Cod( mostly sandy trails) during some of the mud season.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Here's a picture of the path on Dumyat, just behind Sterling. Sections are worse than this with deeper, narrower ruts. It varies. You can ride a trail one year and the next it will look totally different. You can see how people have created new paths here and what's wrong with that? It's fun to ride. I fell off three times the first time I was there.

    Lower down the hill they have flattened it out and put gravel paths in. Feck off! Who wants to ride a 'trail' your granny could run her wheelchair up? Is this a mountain bike forum or what?

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    Where are all the trees?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Which trail are you talking about?
    The riders on Facebook were talking about riding from the summit of Tiger Mountain.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Here's a picture of the path on Dumyat, just behind Sterling. Sections are worse than this with deeper, narrower ruts. It varies. You can ride a trail one year and the next it will look totally different. You can see how people have created new paths here and what's wrong with that? It's fun to ride. I fell off three times the first time I was there.

    Lower down the hill they have flattened it out and put gravel paths in. Feck off! Who wants to ride a 'trail' your granny could run her wheelchair up? Is this a mountain bike forum or what?
    That's a pretty high and mighty point of view. We have multiple trail systems and not every trail or system system is intended for experts. Doing so alienates people from this sport and does not help us gain momentum or get the opportunities to build more trails.

    The "F-the trails" attitude is not what we want to promote. I'm part of the organization that arranges work days and repairs the trails (as well as build new trail). I see the effects first hand. Little ruts turn into big ruts because water doesn't shed off the trail like it should, because someone rode on the trail before it was ready. Big ruts turn into potholes and stay filled with water, people then ride around them and the trail just gets nasty, there is nothing good about this. Higher tundra stuff like in your picture is different.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    .

    It's the countryside, deal with it.
    Trails don't close here either, but they can get damaged to the extent that they are unrideable. In my mind, it's a case of riders not caring that their decision to ride a just thawed trail, creating major ruts in the process, than having the trail freeze the ruts into an unrideable morass similar to a railroad switching yard, is just wrong. Yeah,. I know it's the "countryside" but now nobody benefits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Our trails are purpose-built for mountain biking. They take it seriously.
    I get that, by that I mean I really do. If I had invested sweat and blood building those trails I would feel exactly the same way you do. I'm enjoying the luxury of being able to pass comment on something from the outside with no personal involvement or risk.

    I like to build things too but I have a view of nature that I think is more symbiotic. Sure, you can go into the woods and make trails but as soon as you turn your back the grass is growing. While you sleep the worms are digging. Rather than try to keep everything exactly as it was built, build it with a view towards letting it find its own way.

    I see the same fight in trail centres in Scotland. People take alternative lines and soon additional paths develop. Often the trail builders will try to block them off with logs or rocks and I'll sometimes stop and think about what is there. Is it really necessary to block the new path? What harm is it doing? If there is no merit in it, why did it develop? Or is it pride in the part of the original trail builders that causes them to disapprove?

    The problem with fighting nature, fighting the rest of the world, is that you cannot win.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    Where are all the trees?
    It depends on the hight, exposure and soil but the other sad fact is that scotland used to be covered in trees. Humans decided that sheep were more important than trees. Then without the trees the ground go so boggy the trees couldn't grow back.

    We still have trees, quite a lot of them, but a lot less than we used to. So now it's different. Not necessarily better or worse, but different. If we still had the trees you wouldn't have the views. Bit like Oregon?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I get that, by that I mean I really do. If I had invested sweat and blood building those trails I would feel exactly the same way you do. I'm enjoying the luxury of being able to pass comment on something from the outside with no personal involvement or risk.

    I like to build things too but I have a view of nature that I think is more symbiotic. Sure, you can go into the woods and make trails but as soon as you turn your back the grass is growing. While you sleep the worms are digging. Rather than try to keep everything exactly as it was built, build it with a view towards letting it find its own way.

    I see the same fight in trail centres in Scotland. People take alternative lines and soon additional paths develop. Often the trail builders will try to block them off with logs or rocks and I'll sometimes stop and think about what is there. Is it really necessary to block the new path? What harm is it doing? If there is no merit in it, why did it develop? Or is it pride in the part of the original trail builders that causes them to disapprove?

    The problem with fighting nature, fighting the rest of the world, is that you cannot win.
    Brilliant! My local trails are typically loose sand, heavily overgrown with poison oak, and if its not sand, its a rut. I always enjoyed riding a rigid single speed but now that I'm on a FS it feels like a bit of overkill riding these "flow" trails. Its nature, enjoy it, you can't control it. To me, a trail is a path that I intend to follow, nothing more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    The riders on Facebook were talking about riding from the summit of Tiger Mountain.


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    As I recall, there's not much clay content there and I doubt that it would be much of a problem. That snow will be washing away tomorrow with possibly more snow there over the weekend. It might be too sloppy for much traction, but without clay it won't harden with tracks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I get that, by that I mean I really do. If I had invested sweat and blood building those trails I would feel exactly the same way you do. I'm enjoying the luxury of being able to pass comment on something from the outside with no personal involvement or risk.

    I like to build things too but I have a view of nature that I think is more symbiotic. Sure, you can go into the woods and make trails but as soon as you turn your back the grass is growing. While you sleep the worms are digging. Rather than try to keep everything exactly as it was built, build it with a view towards letting it find its own way.

    I see the same fight in trail centres in Scotland. People take alternative lines and soon additional paths develop. Often the trail builders will try to block them off with logs or rocks and I'll sometimes stop and think about what is there. Is it really necessary to block the new path? What harm is it doing? If there is no merit in it, why did it develop? Or is it pride in the part of the original trail builders that causes them to disapprove?

    The problem with fighting nature, fighting the rest of the world, is that you cannot win.
    If you can get past my d*ck-move banner in the beginning of this video (yeah, poor taste), this kind of riding is probably more akin to what you posted before. This is one of our favorite trails and there's a pretty long section up high on the tundra where it's "multiple paths", which is what most of the video shows. This is a different type of soil and doesn't react the same as our lower glacial silt. The multiple paths are in bad-taste IMO, but some of the original trail is too narrow or gets too "scalloped" and there isn't a lot of trail work done on this (but there is some). So I don't view these the same way as on other trails or other sections on this trail. On some trails, it's just a nasty mess of ride-arounds and just screws over large sections where it highly accelerates the erosion and damage to the surrounding area.



    This one also is some high-altitude stuff on th tundra, although the lower 1/2 of the trail in the video was recently built and is damn-nice. Unfortunately, this was limited to a couple seasons, bicycles were banned from it last year after I got one more ride in. Again, this might be fairly similar to the high-altitude stuff in Scotland.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aWK9dTdF_0
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I get that, by that I mean I really do. If I had invested sweat and blood building those trails I would feel exactly the same way you do. I'm enjoying the luxury of being able to pass comment on something from the outside with no personal involvement or risk.

    I like to build things too but I have a view of nature that I think is more symbiotic. Sure, you can go into the woods and make trails but as soon as you turn your back the grass is growing. While you sleep the worms are digging. Rather than try to keep everything exactly as it was built, build it with a view towards letting it find its own way.

    I see the same fight in trail centres in Scotland. People take alternative lines and soon additional paths develop. Often the trail builders will try to block them off with logs or rocks and I'll sometimes stop and think about what is there. Is it really necessary to block the new path? What harm is it doing? If there is no merit in it, why did it develop? Or is it pride in the part of the original trail builders that causes them to disapprove?

    The problem with fighting nature, fighting the rest of the world, is that you cannot win.
    Trail braids? Ugghh. Problem everywhere. Part of the everyone gets a trophy mentality. Get off and walk if one cannot clean a section. I do it all the time. Very soon the whole woods is just a mess, not good to look at or ride. Keep single track single. Runners and hikers do it as well. And a braid is not the same as a go around for a technical trail feature. I have seen land mangers close trails and properties due to braids and rogue trail building. Not good.

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    I couldn’t help but notice that the bike in the article photo is rocking a dork disc. Is that common on fat/plus sized bikes?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I get that, by that I mean I really do. If I had invested sweat and blood building those trails I would feel exactly the same way you do. I'm enjoying the luxury of being able to pass comment on something from the outside with no personal involvement or risk.
    Exactly. It's easy not caring when you're strictly a user vs a contributor.

    That braided mess in your pictures isn't something I'd enjoy spending a lot of time riding. For myself and many others, singletrack is the holy grail when it comes to trails, the skinnier and the less intersections the better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    That's exactly what happens, but even worse.
    It used to be worse, then I started to put snow fence across the trailheads with "closed" signs. This particular person decided to climb through the brush around the fence and go for a ride.

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    it's no wonder Mr. Pig doesn't care about trail braids. There's nothing you can do to stop them if there's no natural features alongside the trail (trees, big rocks, shrubs, downed trees, etc) to contain said trail, short of building fences - and nobody wants that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Seems to be talking about mud and ruts, I agree 100%, when the trails start to thaw, riding them in that thawed condition screws us over, the ruts often do not come out and make it take that much longer for the trail to dry out. Then we have to attempt to fix the damage during trailwork days. This is especially frustrating in some flow sections or landings, where it'll be all crazy uneven due to idiots riding it in the soft season.

    The soil in these places is like a sponge, it's filled with moisture, whether solid or melted, until the sun comes along and bakes it enough, it's like riding through clay which will harden to the last shape, which will mean ruts and bad erosion.

    If you start real early, you might be able to ride them while it's still frozen, but when the trails start looking like this, that happens real early in the morning. We try to keep people off the trails and the local trail managers let the public know when the trails are good to be ridden.


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    Frozen trail or snow on frozen trail doesn't matter. That stuff frost-heaves as soon as it freezes. Riding that does nothing significant to the trail, as it's frozen.

    The article is not applicable to riding on frozen/snow covered trails with frozen ground IMO.
    Sorry Jayem, but I tried.


    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Jayem again.


    It’s not rocket science people. Use your head and ask yourself, should I be riding or not? Am I going to leave ruts behind or just a tread mark on top of the dirt. If your tires sink past the tread then “Houston we have a problem”. Don’t ride until it dries up.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    it's no wonder Mr. Pig doesn't care about trail braids. There's nothing you can do to stop them if there's no natural features alongside the trail (trees, big rocks, shrubs, downed trees, etc) to contain said trail, short of building fences - and nobody wants that.
    I beg to differ.



    If you have conscientious users, you can definitely keep singetrack single.
    If you get mainly a bunch of "I don't care about trail conditions or aesthetics, I'm just going to get mine and go home" users, you end up with a mess.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Again, this might be fairly similar to the high-altitude stuff in Scotland.
    It's very similar to a lot of the hill trails in Scotland.

    Braids, I didn't know they had a name. That hill is particularly bad, it's right next to sterling and is very busy. It's unusual to have so much traffic. Again though, I don't see it as a problem It's just the character of the trail and it's very fun to ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I beg to differ.



    If you have conscientious users, you can definitely keep singetrack single.
    If you get mainly a bunch of "I don't care about trail conditions or aesthetics, I'm just going to get mine and go home" users, you end up with a mess.
    Not a good example pic, honestly. It's more or less a straight line. Not much there to shortcut.

    I agree about users being conscientious, but there are many characteristics of a trail and the terrain it's in that play a role in user management. Put in turns, and some will go wide while others cut inside. No controls on that, and over time, the trail will widen and braid.

    The lack of conscientiousness comes in with the creation of altogether new lines, which you see promoted on far too many shitty shredits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Not a good example pic, honestly. It's more or less a straight line. Not much there to shortcut.

    I agree about users being conscientious, but there are many characteristics of a trail and the terrain it's in that play a role in user management. Put in turns, and some will go wide while others cut inside. No controls on that, and over time, the trail will widen and braid.

    The lack of conscientiousness comes in with the creation of altogether new lines, which you see promoted on far too many shitty shredits.

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    Pic is from the Kingdom trails: I get what you're saying, but there are plenty of trails there through open terrain with turns that stay skinny, as are there in countless other places. (FWIW, the general route in Pig's pic is pretty much a straight shot too.) It IS possible to keep singletrack single, but it definitely requires some restraint and respect from users.
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    Mr Pig,

    Your picture does not show the type of rutting, some of the other pictures show. I can say without doubt, that you would not enjoy the 2 inch wide 4 inch deep hardened mud ruts that rip the handlebars out of even the best riders hands and bounce you around in unnatural manner until you have motion sickness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    If you have conscientious users, you can definitely keep singetrack single.
    If you get mainly a bunch of "I don't care about trail conditions or aesthetics, I'm just going to get mine and go home" users, you end up with a mess.
    I don't think it's that simple. If you design a trail to have unnecessary turns that don't flow with obvious shortcuts ready for the taking is it really the users fault when they cut? For any individual the answer is yes, but we don't build for individuals - we build for the users as a whole. Not taking into account how they will want to ride the trail often leads to braiding. I used to get mad and think it was ridiculous how people shortcut but over time I've seen plenty of examples where it's the builder's fault, not the users'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    I don't think it's that simple. If you design a trail to have unnecessary turns that don't flow with obvious shortcuts ready for the taking is it really the users fault when they cut? For any individual the answer is yes, but we don't build for individuals - we build for the users as a whole. Not taking into account how they will want to ride the trail often leads to braiding. I used to get mad and think it was ridiculous how people shortcut but over time I've seen plenty of examples where it's the builder's fault, not the users'.
    So true, if the builder doesn’t have an eye for the natural flow of the land and build accordingly then shortcuts are inevitably going to happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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    We have so much clay in the soil, that freeze/thaw and frost heave really trash the trails - instant peanut butter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    I don't think it's that simple. If you design a trail to have unnecessary turns that don't flow with obvious shortcuts ready for the taking is it really the users fault when they cut? For any individual the answer is yes, but we don't build for individuals - we build for the users as a whole. Not taking into account how they will want to ride the trail often leads to braiding. I used to get mad and think it was ridiculous how people shortcut but over time I've seen plenty of examples where it's the builder's fault, not the users'.
    Agree that it definitely helps to have the trails laid out well in the first place. Even given that, of course, we all know that you'll get ignorant riders cutting corners for no good reason. Pig's example goes way beyond just shortcutting some corners though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Put in turns, and some will go wide while others cut inside. No controls on that, and over time, the trail will widen and braid.
    My question is, who are you to decide how the turn should be? How did you decide how tight to make the turn? If a more skilled or less skilled rider comes along, why shouldn't he ride the turn in a way he enjoys? Isn't that the point of being out on a bike?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    My question is, who are you to decide how the turn should be? How did you decide how tight to make the turn? If a more skilled or less skilled rider comes along, why shouldn't he ride the turn in a way he enjoys? Isn't that the point of being out on a bike?
    The trail determines it (and therefore whoever built it and/or manages it). As slapheadmofo mentions, respect for the trail and the surrounding land SHOULD be plenty to keep you on it.

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    It all comes down to respect.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    It all comes down to respect.
    Respect for whom? Why shouldn't the rider who thinks another path is better than the one you chose have those wishes respected too?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Respect for whom? Why shouldn't the rider who thinks another path is better than the one you chose have those wishes respected too?



    But it wasn't the path DJ chose, that was the trailbuilder's decision, which is often a collective decision involving anyone who cares enough to take the time to show up at meetings and/or trail building days. Hopefully thought was put into the process to ensure the trail's longevity and fun factor.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Respect for whom? Why shouldn't the rider who thinks another path is better than the one you chose have those wishes respected too?
    And yet you ignored my first response to this question. Probably because you don't like the answer.

    No public land manager in the US permits mtb riders to ride willy nilly wherever they want. There are some limited circumstances (that vary from place to place with snow travel, beaches, riverbeds, and dunes, but that is not wholesale permission to do wtf you want.

    When there is a trail, the rule, on the whole, is to stay on it. So it doesn't matter if you don't like the line(s) provided by the trail. You don't have the right to ride elsewhere.

    This is the rule on the majority of the planet. The Norse right of travel doesn't apply, except in the limited places where it does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    I don't think it's that simple. If you design a trail to have unnecessary turns that don't flow with obvious shortcuts ready for the taking is it really the users fault when they cut? For any individual the answer is yes, but we don't build for individuals - we build for the users as a whole. Not taking into account how they will want to ride the trail often leads to braiding. I used to get mad and think it was ridiculous how people shortcut but over time I've seen plenty of examples where it's the builder's fault, not the users'.
    Dude, what? MA guy here. On trails days, lets just say there are 15 of us for a particular project, there might be 75- 150 years of trail building and riding experience. I'm sort of the middle of the pack with 15 or so years of trail work behind me, seminars, meetings, trail school, reading and work with various chapters and and many other trail crews not mt bikers. Add in conservation walks, flagging parties and ranger walk throughs. It's not the builders fault. Here in New England, we get to work around water, vernal pools, as well as protected species of plants and animals. Every trail we build is walked, flagged, approved and walked again. By 1-4 other groups besides us. We get rocks, giant boulders, trees and other " fun" stuff to work with. The trail is well thought out, discussed, ridden both ways many times. Lazy 'freakin stravatard riders abound everywhere. You want easy and smooth? Take the bikepath. I walk on almost every ride, even on my own stuff I have built. Usually I can clean it in the other direction. Or crash and burn trying. Just ride the trail it's not that hard. Short cuts, Ugghh. Who wants a shorter ride anyway? And happy new year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    And yet you ignored my first response to this question. Probably because you don't like the answer.

    No public land manager in the US permits mtb riders to ride willy nilly wherever they want. There are some limited circumstances (that vary from place to place with snow travel, beaches, riverbeds, and dunes, but that is not wholesale permission to do wtf you want.

    When there is a trail, the rule, on the whole, is to stay on it. So it doesn't matter if you don't like the line(s) provided by the trail. You don't have the right to ride elsewhere.

    This is the rule on the majority of the planet. The Norse right of travel doesn't apply, except in the limited places where it does.

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    ^^^^ THIS. Applies to hikers and horse folk as well. Try national parks, wilderness, scenic areas, sensitive stuff like high alpine and cryptobiotic soils and such. Cant just roam anywhere, especially with high traffic areas. Just stay on the trail, not that hard.

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    Just thought I'd mention that I can see Mr Pig's side too, in certain cases anyway. There's one section of a trail I ride where the main line used to go around a big rock and I started riding the faster, more challenging and more fun line over the rock. Apparently a lot of other people started seeing that line too and now it's the main trail. There are a few similar cases I can think of where given the circumstances no harm was done, imo, but I guess some here might think I'm a jerk for thinking that way.
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    For me, there is a difference between a braid and an optional line for a technical trail feature.

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    I live in a place where we don't have too much peanut butter mush, but this one spot can get pretty greasy after good moisture and/or freeze/thaw. Our local land manager (CA State Parks) has no rules prohibiting trail use in wet/muddy conditions... and they do not allow any trail maintenance that involves trail tread (at least over the past 15+ frustrating years).

    So we rely on our tires to do most of the repair work!

    January:
    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-1..jpg

    February:
    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-2..jpg

    March:
    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-3..jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Respect for whom? Why shouldn't the rider who thinks another path is better than the one you chose have those wishes respected too?
    Because said rider didn’t create the the trail. Pretty simple, respect, no? Ride a trail have respect for who built it and don't create new lines to your liking or lack of skill, and don’t ...well you can read my signature.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Respect for whom? Why shouldn't the rider who thinks another path is better than the one you chose have those wishes respected too?
    Because they didn't put the work in and the builder did? Sheesh, does that really need explained? If you think the trails in your area are no good that's fine, go build your own... Don't do things that will alter the existing trails to your liking.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    But it wasn't the path DJ chose, that was the trailbuilder's decision, which is often a collective decision involving anyone who cares enough to take the time to show up at meetings and/or trail building days. Hopefully thought was put into the process to ensure the trail's longevity and fun factor.

    Even if it wasn't a collective decision, the builder put in the time to get approvals (hopefully) and the time to actually build it... So even if they're wrong it's still their decision. Don't like it? Cool, put in the work to make something better elsewhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    When there is a trail, the rule, on the whole, is to stay on it. So it doesn't matter if you don't like the line(s) provided by the trail. You don't have the right to ride elsewhere.

    It doesn't have to be a rule, it's a principle of leave no trace and even just common sense to limit the disturbance we create. If we want access to more land over the coming years we'd be wise to practice ethical trail use whether or not it is the rule.


    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    Dude, what? MA guy here. On trails days, lets just say there are 15 of us for a particular project, there might be 75- 150 years of trail building and riding experience. I'm sort of the middle of the pack with 15 or so years of trail work behind me, seminars, meetings, trail school, reading and work with various chapters and and many other trail crews not mt bikers. Add in conservation walks, flagging parties and ranger walk throughs. It's not the builders fault. Here in New England, we get to work around water, vernal pools, as well as protected species of plants and animals. Every trail we build is walked, flagged, approved and walked again. By 1-4 other groups besides us. We get rocks, giant boulders, trees and other " fun" stuff to work with. The trail is well thought out, discussed, ridden both ways many times. Lazy 'freakin stravatard riders abound everywhere. You want easy and smooth? Take the bikepath. I walk on almost every ride, even on my own stuff I have built. Usually I can clean it in the other direction. Or crash and burn trying. Just ride the trail it's not that hard. Short cuts, Ugghh. Who wants a shorter ride anyway? And happy new year.

    Strava shortcuts are another story, my point wasn't meant to be completely universal. There's a difference between cutting off a switchback completely (bad) versus cutting off the apex of a switchback that doesn't work (still technically bad, but I can see why it happens).


    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    So we rely on our tires to do most of the repair work!

    I know this is very soil dependant so I'm not stating it as universal fact, however it's amazing how a really awful spot like your first pic will often repair itself once it dries and gets some tires on it. Even just someone hiking and patting down the ruts a bit with a boot can do a lot. Again this isn't true everywhere, but in my area people get bent out of shape about spots that 'will never be the same until fixed' without realizing that that same spot looks like that every March and is fine by June with no work whatsoever.

    The vast majority of the system I ride never sees any work other than cutting out downed trees and yet every winter it's trashed in many spots (with people saying 'that trail is ruined forever!') and every summer it's back to normal. We don't even 'fix' the ruts that do need work in the conventional sense, we rock armor that spot so it never needs fixed again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    When there is a trail, the rule, on the whole, is to stay on it. So it doesn't matter if you don't like the line(s) provided by the trail. You don't have the right to ride elsewhere. This is the rule on the majority of the planet.
    Not in Scotland it isn't.

    I find this so sad. Scotland is covered in trails and paths. The countryside, hill-walking and outdoor culture here is world famous but if the land was managed by Americans it would be a pale shadow of what it is. Very few of our paths and trails have been planed except for farming/logging access tracks. People are free to walk or ride wherever they like, they choose the best routs and paths develop. If the route is less popular the path will disappear again. It's a natural, organic process. The trail system is so vast the very idea of maintaining all the of the trails is the same condition at all times is ridiculous and unnecessary. You wear footwear that's appropriate for the terrain!

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    So we rely on our tires to do most of the repair work!
    These three pictures are very similar to what you might find in lower level Scottish trails. The hill trails tend to be on rockier ground and are not so bad but you will see sections exactly like this all over the place. So you choose a different line in the winter.

    Or you control freaks can micro-manage the world, your call ;0)

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    It doesn't have to be a rule, it's a principle of leave no trace and even just common sense to limit the disturbance we create. If we want access to more land over the coming years we'd be wise to practice ethical trail use whether or not it is the rule.
    This is true. But it's still a rule in far more places than it isn't. Many places even require hikers to stay on-trail to concentrate use and minimize trampling, even though not trampling vegetation is part of LNT principles, too (the general populace will avoid following LNT principles if they don't have to).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Or you control freaks can micro-manage the world, your call ;0)
    When you live on the East Coast and deal with major population centers (ten million in the larger around around me) it's necessary. With less dense populations, like out West or in Scotland apparently, I can see how that attitude works... But it just won't work here. You give people free reign and suddenly what little wild areas we have aren't wild anymore.

    (For example, the Appalachian Trail allows dispersed camping on the vast majority of its length but not in my area. They condense camping to only designated sites, because otherwise every square foot would be trampled for tent pads, or worse latrines, within a year.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    This is true. But it's still a rule in far more places than it isn't. Many places even require hikers to stay on-trail to concentrate use and minimize trampling, even though not trampling vegetation is part of LNT principles, too (the general populace will avoid following LNT principles if they don't have to).

    Totally agreed, just thought that on a site dedicated to supposed outdoor recreation enthusiasts we shouldn't need a rule. Limiting your impact just makes sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Not in Scotland it isn't.

    I find this so sad. Scotland is covered in trails and paths. The countryside, hill-walking and outdoor culture here is world famous but if the land was managed by Americans it would be a pale shadow of what it is. Very few of our paths and trails have been planed except for farming/logging access tracks. People are free to walk or ride wherever they like, they choose the best routs and paths develop. If the route is less popular the path will disappear again. It's a natural, organic process. The trail system is so vast the very idea of maintaining all the of the trails is the same condition at all times is ridiculous and unnecessary. You wear footwear that's appropriate for the terrain!



    These three pictures are very similar to what you might find in lower level Scottish trails. The hill trails tend to be on rockier ground and are not so bad but you will see sections exactly like this all over the place. So you choose a different line in the winter.

    Or you control freaks can micro-manage the world, your call ;0)
    The world is not Scotland. The US is not Scotland. Bitch and moan about it all you want, but your complaints DO NOT APPLY in most of the world. Here, if you're on a bike, you stay on the trail. Don't like the trail? Tough cookies. Go somewhere else. Most of the US has so little public land available for trails that use gets HEAVILY concentrated. This is by design, because the land area is insufficient to spread use out.

    Some places, like BLM and National Forest land, permit off-trail travel by foot traffic. But still, the vegetation limits where that's practical, because we still have trees and shrubs here, so use still gets concentrated, and maintained trails are where most people go, anyway. Bikes are universally managed in such a way that they must stay on trails. Exceptions include some sand dune areas, many beaches, and snow (in some areas). It is a fact of life here. Some of your countrymen are able to suck it up and deal with it (I've ridden with a few).

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    When you live on the East Coast and deal with major population centers it's necessary. With less dense populations, like out West or in Scotland apparently, I can see how that attitude works... But it just won't work here.
    I accept that some situations are different but come on, I was responding to the major league moaning about the relatively superficial trail 'damage' shown in the first photographs. You Americans just want to control everything. You'd try and run the whole world if you could, it's just in your nature. You get upset if a country on the other side of the planet has a leader who isn't pro USA. Not only that, but you think you are justified in doing something about it! This is the same thing on a smaller scale.

    In Scotland the attitude is that the countryside belongs to everyone. You can't take control of huge swathes of it and dictate whether or not people can go there. Even farmers can't keep you off their land, you're just not allowed to damage their crops or animals.

    You see areas near population centers that do get grubby through overuse and they'll try different things to keep it tidy but you know what? Stopping people from going there is never one of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I accept that some situations are different but come on, I was responding to the major league moaning about the relatively superficial trail 'damage' shown in the first photographs. You Americans just want to control everything. You'd try and run the whole world if you could, it's just in your nature. You get upset if a country on the other side of the planet has a leader who isn't pro USA. Not only that, but you think you are justified in doing something about it! This is the same thing on a smaller scale.

    In Scotland the attitude is that the countryside belongs to everyone. You can't take control of huge swathes of it and dictate whether or not people can go there. Even farmers can't keep you off their land, you're just not allowed to damage their crops or animals.

    You see areas near population centers that do get grubby through overuse and they'll try different things to keep it tidy but you know what? Stopping people from going there is never one of them.
    You have a total population about half of that in my metro area alone... You don't know the problems we deal with.

    But more importantly since you've lumped the entire US into your stereotype I have no interest in discussing with you further. You don't know what you're talking about and that will be evident to anyone else reading here as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I was responding to the major league moaning about the relatively superficial trail 'damage' shown in the first photographs.
    No, that's actually not what you were responding to in the quote I posted which is clear above. You don't even know what you're talking about when stating what you're talking about! Happy New Year from the USA!

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    The trails here in KY haven't really frozen much at all this year (too warm and too much rain), but freeze-thaw is typically a pretty big deal all winter long, since our temps fluctuate quite a bit. Freeze thaw mud is super snotty and not fun. The freeze thaw ruts then gather water and delay other riders from being able to ride the trails in the Spring. Without maintenance, the trouble areas get worse and worse and impact trail use later in the year when those areas take forever to dry out.

    The people who don't care and set out to ride in any condition thinking they're badasses (usually these people are more ass than badass) end up making more work for other people and negatively impact the experience of more responsible trail users.

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    Don't get the complete idea about spaces in the US from some comments. Many National Forests(Huron in my state for one) have areas with no trails and no rules or anyone interested in enforcing anything like a stay on the path for a hiking requirement. When we morel hunt in spring before the trees leaf out we cover miles of up and down terrain without even game trails. Those little things are particular about where they grow. And you do find some next to trails but the competition gets those first. We aren't hiking to get to a destination. We're lightly and quickly covering as much area as possible to find something. We never create a trail doing that. You don't want to go where someone else has already been. This happens all across the US.
    When we go for brook trout on a tiny creek with no road access we don't go by trail through the forest to get there. And there's no trail next to the stream because hardly anyone ever goes there. That's not the only fishing option like that. Many more are great spots. But no trails. We enjoy the land and respect it. It's the same when we leave. And the same when we come back next year.

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    Can I move to Scotland?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    The trail system is so vast
    LOL! Just our 3 largest national parks add up to more area than your entire country.
    It only takes our largest 2 national forests to get there.
    And there's more BLM land than the whole thing too.

    Then there's all the other national parks, forests, wilderness area, as well as state and local parks and forest areas.

    You clearly have no concept of what 'vast' actually is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I find this so sad.


    You needn't worry, there are endless outdoor spaces available in the US. The internet blows everything out of proportion. I could roam the mountains for weeks and not see another soul if I wanted, and walk wherever I please. You just have to get more than a couple miles in from any trailhead. Some people enjoy b!tching and moaning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Don't get the complete idea about spaces in the US from some comments. Many National Forests(Huron in my state for one) have areas with no trails and no rules or anyone interested in enforcing anything like a stay on the path for a hiking requirement. When we morel hunt in spring before the trees leaf out we cover miles of up and down terrain without even game trails. Those little things are particular about where they grow. And you do find some next to trails but the competition gets those first. We aren't hiking to get to a destination. We're lightly and quickly covering as much area as possible to find something. We never create a trail doing that. You don't want to go where someone else has already been. This happens all across the US.
    When we go for brook trout on a tiny creek with no road access we don't go by trail through the forest to get there. And there's no trail next to the stream because hardly anyone ever goes there. That's not the only fishing option like that. Many more are great spots. But no trails. We enjoy the land and respect it. It's the same when we leave. And the same when we come back next year.
    Context is important and that's not exactly apples to apples. In most National Forests you need a permit to remove anything and even then there are weight limits regarding how much mushrooms you can remove without a commercial licence. Likewise you need a licence to fish or hunt so not exactly a free for all.
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    Interesting thread... hearing how different parts of the country (world) deal with wet trails. But as is well known and already mentioned, a lot has to do with soil conditions. I've ridden trails the morning after heavy overnight rains, and you couldn't tell it ever rained. On the opposite end of the spectrum, like here in North Texas with a lot of clay that doesn't drain or absorb, trails can be closed for days after a single rain. This last year (2018) has been especially crappy. We usually see around 30" of rain in 12 months. In the last 12 months, we've had nearly 70". Some of our trails have been closed since the end of July. Yup, going on 6 months! A couple of them even longer. Most have been closed since August/September. Mind you, we're not used to seasonal closings, and trails are normally open all year 'round. So this is something new for us, and it SUCKS!

    Here in North Texas, when trails are closed, the decision is usually respected. Riding our clay when it's muddy creates ruts that turn into concrete when it finally dries out. Then riding those hard ruts grind them into sand. Then nobody has any fun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredcook View Post
    Riding our clay when it's muddy creates ruts that turn into concrete when it finally dries out. Then riding those hard ruts grind them into sand. Then nobody has any fun.
    Yep, Georgia Red Clay can get amazingly solid. When really compacted and properly sloped, water runs off well but if water settles and soaks in, it's a mess and if rutted, it dries to something you're not going to "fix" by just riding over it hoping to smash it back. Then it collects more water and gets worse and worse.

    And a lot of my area would not be much fun to "bushwack" ride. As Harold mentioned, too many small trees, bushes, briars, etc, all mixed in amongst the big trees. And a thick coat of leaf litter that will bog you down quick.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    You clearly have no concept of what 'vast' actually is.
    Ha ha, you got me ;0) But here's the thing. Absolute size doesn't matter beyond a certain point as there is only so much you can see or access in a reasonable time frame. When you stand on top of a hill and can only see other hills in all directions it doesn't really matter what's beyond that.

    I doubt you have anywhere that is the size of Scotland and has more trails? You could spend your life on the trails in Scotland and not cover them all. And, we will let you spend your life on them, even in the winter if you want to! And if you want to make new lines or trails, that's fine too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Ha ha, you got me ;0) But here's the thing. Absolute size doesn't matter beyond a certain point as there is only so much you can see or access in a reasonable time frame. When you stand on top of a hill and can only see other hills in all directions it doesn't really matter what's beyond that.

    I doubt you have anywhere that is the size of Scotland and has more trails? You could spend your life on the trails in Scotland and not cover them all. And, we will let you spend your life on them, even in the winter if you want to! And if you want to make new lines or trails, that's fine too.
    If you took a 35k sq mile sample of New England (that's about half the area of the 5 New England states combined) I'm willing to be we've easily got just as many trails if not more in the same area. There are trails practically everywhere here. And they get used all year, and we're building more constantly. You can definitely find a 'lifetime' worth of trails within a few hundred miles of where I live, even a couple small mountains.




    If people take a little care as far as the ones we've got, then it's easier to sell the idea of more to LMs, and we spend less time repairing and more time making more. It's pretty simple and benefits everyone actually.
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    Freeze-thaw cycles and mountain biking-8342377e-a8ef-4e05-963e-a9e3acbcf8b2.jpeg
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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    https://www.traveling-savage.com/201...right-to-roam/

    He brings up an interesting difference between the US and Scotland; land in Scotland is owned by a small amount of people, as opposed to the US where large amounts of people own land. That would make it awfully difficult to have a right to roam law in the US.

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    And considering there are often issues on rivers, where there is a right to roam but some landowners insist the river is their property, plus all the gun owner nuts (not saying all gun owners are nuts); could lead to a lot of problems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    The world is not Scotland. The US is not Scotland. Bitch and moan about it all you want, but your complaints DO NOT APPLY in most of the world. Here, if you're on a bike, you stay on the trail. Don't like the trail? Tough cookies. Go somewhere else. Most of the US has so little public land available for trails that use gets HEAVILY concentrated. This is by design, because the land area is insufficient to spread use out.

    Some places, like BLM and National Forest land, permit off-trail travel by foot traffic. But still, the vegetation limits where that's practical, because we still have trees and shrubs here, so use still gets concentrated, and maintained trails are where most people go, anyway. Bikes are universally managed in such a way that they must stay on trails. Exceptions include some sand dune areas, many beaches, and snow (in some areas). It is a fact of life here. Some of your countrymen are able to suck it up and deal with it (I've ridden with a few).
    All true. I’m sure I could ride trails in the US just like what Pig is picturing in Scotland but I’d likely have to drive a thousand miles or more to do it. “Wild and unspoiled” in Scotland is apparently far more accessible and convenient than it is in the US. As it is, I have to drive about 5 miles to ride well-designed, immaculately groomed, and well-maintained mountain bike trails. That suits me just fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    All true. I’m sure I could ride trails in the US just like what Pig is picturing in Scotland but I’d likely have to drive a thousand miles or more to do it. “Wild and unspoiled” in Scotland is apparently far more accessible and convenient than it is in the US. As it is, I have to drive about 5 miles to ride well-designed, immaculately groomed, and well-maintained mountain bike trails. That suits me just fine.
    "Wild and unspoiled" doesn't exist in a country that was largely deforested centuries ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    "Wild and unspoiled" doesn't exist in a country that was largely deforested centuries ago.

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
    I don’t equate “forested” to “wild and unspoiled”, especially if it’s been centuries. You do because you live in a land where forests are common. Or whatever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    I don’t equate “forested” to “wild and unspoiled”, especially if it’s been centuries ago.
    My point is that the uk has such a long history of intense human use that there is no such place there. It barely exists here, for that matter, to the point that many Wilderness designations are on land that was intensively used for a time. Wild, maybe, but hardly unspoiled.

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