As we all move towards the spring of course we are all excited to ride again. Now is a great time to discuss trail conditions and some thoughts on where we should ride and when.
I am as excited as anybody to ride when the sun is shining and the snow is slowly disappearing from our trails, however as we all know, riding on wet and muddy trails can do extensive long lasting damage. In this transitional time there are some things we can do to avoid additional wear and tear on our beloved trials.
Every year in the spring we end up with a few weeks of mixed trail conditions where some trails still have some snow and ice sections however our favourite dry dirt is also starting to show through in open areas. Some of us who ride throughout the winter may still have our studded tires on, and this is a tricky one because studded tires can really tear up a dry trail, however they are a lifesaver on the icy sections.
If you find yourself in this situation, try to ride earlier in the day when the dry trail sections are still frozen. Also keep in mind that the north facing trails like the Highline will hold their snow longer and stay frozen longer in the day.
As the temperatures and sunshine hours increase and our trails become more dirt than ice, it is time to take those studs off. If it is only the odd icy section or two, it is better to be riding real rubber and just walk or ride over these sections carefully.
We are fortunate that here in the Bow Valley we do not see a lot of rain and our trails generally dry quickly. We are also fortunate that we have trails facing different directions, with different soil types and surfaces. Generally our trails that are on the southern north facing slopes (Highline, etc) have a harder and rockier surface that dries faster and holds up better to being ridden while wet. Our trails on the northern south facing slopes (Montane and G8, etc) are much dryer and are mostly fine soil. These trails do not drain as well and will become rutted and damaged if ridden wet.
I know, sometimes you just have to ride, however it is worth a few minutes to consider the conditions before we choose where to ride. If we have received a lot of rain and it is wet everywhere it might be better to take a couple of days off the bike and drink coffee instead. As a golden rule, if we are leaving a copy of our tire tread on the trail behind us, we shouldn’t be riding it.
Like a lot of other Canmore riders I also look at riding destinations like Invermere in the spring for early season dirt. I know it is really hard to give up on a ride after driving a few hours, but keep in mind that if the locals are not riding their trails yet, we shouldn't be either. Early season damage to the Frisby Ridge trail in Revelstoke, mostly by visiting riders, resulted in the trail remaining closed for most of the season last year and required major repairs. Checking online or with local bike shops before your trip is a great idea.
One of CAMBA's many goals is to see the development of an online source for checking and reporting on the condition of our trails and reporting trail hazards and issues. We are not sure exactly what this will look like but we are working on it! We want local riders and those wanting to visit from out of town to be able to make informed riding decisions. Have a great, safe riding season with the rubber side down!