Outside with Charlie: Trail dos, don’ts

By From page A9 | August 08, 2014


Taking your trusty mountain bike out on the trails is always a good thing to do. You’re out in the forest, or perhaps an urban/wild land setting, and it’s pedal time. Whether you are on a hard tail or a fully sprung unit doesn’t matter. It’s just good being out there.

The recent thunderstorms gracing the Sierra have dropped quite a bit of rain in the mountains. What the rain does to the trails in summer is good — they get packed down a bit, aren’t nearly as loose and the dust factor drops significantly. The forest has a great fresh smell, temperatures are cooler, and it’s just a great time to ride.

But when there’s significant rain to douse the trails, things get downright muddy, putting those knobby earth grabber tires on your bike to the test.

The higher you go in the mountains right now, the greater the probability that a really good soaking rain, complete with run-off, has danced out of the sky more than once over the last two weeks or so.

Therein lies the problem.

The wet ground, if it is sopping wet, can take a pretty severe beating from your knobby tires. Those ruts you cut create channels for erosion.

The mud puddles figure into the rides as well. The best course is to ride through them, hot around, which creates a new and unnecessary track. Think erosion again, and a degraded trail.

As for the trails being too wet to ride? If you have to ask that question, the answer is yes, they are. Stay off really wet trails. Too much damage occurs from too many bikes riding really wet and muddy trails.

Trails don’t repair themselves. Various mountain bike groups, like The Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association, not only build them, legally, they also maintain them. Other groups in our area do the same.

Riding with concern for the trails is smart. Trails that are abused, in any way, can get shut down. It’s better to ride well on good days, while continuing to enjoy the entire mountain bike experience.

You can test out some pretty outrageous trail riding this Sunday, August 10. If you’d like to take on an interesting 30 mile, 5,200 foot gain in elevation, mountain bike “race,” head up to the Divided Sky parking lot in Meyers.

For a $25 donation, you get the t-shirt, poster, and the chance to see if you can actually complete this ride.

It’s the Second Annual Meyers Mountain Bike Festival. Show up at 7:30 a.m. to register for the Triple Crown ride.

Between then and 8:30 am. the ride starts. You’ll head from Divided Sky, up the Christmas Valley Trail, over to Mr. Toads, Armstrong Pass, Big Meadow, Corral Trail and more, then back to the Divided Sky.

It’s a great ride, fully supported, with goodies and music, shuttle service and more. The proceeds go to TAMBA to support their efforts in the Tahoe Basin.

Sounds good. Gear up and get outside.

Charlie Ferris

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