Winter Riding / Freeze-Thaw = Tire Ruts = Trail Damage-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    Winter Riding / Freeze-Thaw = Tire Ruts = Trail Damage

    Food for thought... I'm in the midwest (Indy). We have relatively mild winters, often with temps at or above freezing in the daytime. Our soil is loam with clay beneath. Well-established trails are cut/worn down to the hardpack, which is essentially clay. When it's dry it's hard as rock, but this time of year we get "grease-mud," which is horrid. Not only that, but it's really susceptible to "pizza cutter damage" from tire ruts. Here's what we've posted on the main page of our website to warn people about the consequences of poor trail stewardship:


    Wednesday, 13 December 2006

    When soil freezes all the moisture turns to ice crystals between the particles of the soil and in clay or loam soil they are tightly packed together. As the moisture freezes the crystals expand and tear the clay apart shattering it, then as it thaws the soil become more porous and allows more moisture in. This is repeated with every successive thaw.

    In Indiana we can get as many as 100 freeze thaw cycles in a season.

    So, please be very careful when trying to ride the trails in the winter. The best time to ride is when the trail is frozen solid. On days when the temperature goes below freezing at night, the worst thing we can do is wait for the sun to come out and warm up the trail before riding. The trails can be very soft even if it hasnít rained recently. Even if the temperature stays below freezing South facing trails can defrost in sunlight and turn to mush.

    If you are leaving ruts in the trail where you have ridden please leave the trail. The ruts will allow even more water to remain on the trail and make it even worse. If people see you riding they will want to ride too, so very soon the trail reaches a point of meltdown.

    If you would like to find out the trail conditions on your particular trail before driving there please visit:

    All of these trails are maintained by the Hoosier Mountain Biking Association and all the design, maintainance and building work is done voluntarily by local mountain bikers. If you would like to find out more about the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association and how you can help please visit:

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Oh, you are just no fun.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    If you don't ride in mud, why do you have that fender over the rear tire? huh? huh?

    Just kidding. Good post Wheeze!

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