In my last post I included a link to the HMBA’s article re: Freeze/Thaw cycles & Indiana’s mountain bike trails.  Being somewhat of a Luddite, I failed to make it a live link.  So that you don’t have to copy & paste the URL, here you go: www.hmba.org/index.php

In short even though the trail seems hard as concrete, Indiana’s clay soil holds water.  Water expands when it freezes, which separates the tiny pieces of soil. When it thaws, there are gaps between the particles.  Plants love this because it makes it easier for young roots to penetrate.  But it also leaves the soil ready to absorb even more water. …Another overnight freeze, and the cycle repeats.

By Spring, what was hard as concrete last autumn has become softened to a consistency akin to peanut butter. (Jiff Extra Crunchy!) When you ride through it, it sticks to your tires and you leave ruts. Even if it’s not sticking to your tires, you can leave what we not-so-fondly call "pizza-cutter ruts."  Those hold water, and as we’ve all seen mud begets mud.

So, aside from flooding, falling trees, and the like, THAT’s why trails like Town Run Trail Park get closed for extended periods in the winter and early spring.

Be patient, grasshopper.  And spend your days riding hard surfaces, or (even better) volunteering on the Trail Care Crew at your favorite riding locale!

–M

PS: And for those of you who didn’t resist riding in Peanut Butter mud… Have you noticed that your shifting is not as crisp as before? …That your brake cables drag? …That you can feel (even HEAR!) your chain go "cruuuunch" when you twist it sideways between thumb and index finger? Congratulations, you’ve just  qualified to become a repeat customer at the  BGI service department!