- Monday Morning Debrief 58 -Seasonal trails? Or sanitised trails?
Back in the Chilterns, it was horrifying to see fantastic singletrack turned into motorway sludge in winter. Never recovered. Combination of horse riders, MTB and – to a lesser extent – walkers. Also see some of it in the FoD but less so as more trails/less people using them.
I know there’s stuff we won’t ride because it’ll get ruined. And I try and ride through the middle of stuff whenever possible, but it’s easy to get drawn to a drier looking ‘non-line’ even when you know you shouldn’t.
Dunno what the answer is. Maybe the question should be ‘which wheels do the most damage?’ 🙂
My money is on that cheeky 650B number. Yellow Rims? Damaging to the eyeballs at least!Posted 3 years agosmartaySubscriber
I find I tend to walk the trails, with the company of my lab, than ride due to the condition at the moment, keeping the trails clear of fallen branches etc. pity that not everyone has the same approach.Posted 3 years ago
Local council has thinned some of the trees which i understand for light etc, however I did say the tight and twisty nature would keep speeds down, now with increased bike traffic the trails are being “blocked” more often by other users of the woodsmikewsmithSubscriber
As a rule I don’t want to ride a trail full of sloppy mud as it’s not much fun, it’s also not good for the trail. I’d rather ride them when they are riding well.
We have new trails here in Tassie that didn’t stand up to winter so they got closed, cue heaps of complaints that the old trails were never closed but when it was wet they were crap.Posted 3 years agoNorthwindSubscriber
Not everywhere has a lot of choice, mind, I avoid the wet trails here in winter because there’s so many other places to go but with restrictive access laws etc I suppose folks get funnelled onto certain trails.
Some of our local “natural” riding has got trashed in the time I’ve been riding it, singletrack to motorway. It’s not just riding when wet, it’s riding round puddles etc.Posted 3 years agoqtipSubscriber
I’m quite lucky living in the Peak District as there are trails that are rideable year round. However, some of the best trails on my doorstep suffer badly in the wet and I’ll avoid these because I want them to stay great. It seems that there are many that don’t take this approach and it always saddens me to go back to these spots and find ruts so deep that you can’t ride them, and former ribbons of single track turned into wide sections with multiple ruts.
Sometimes you find yourself on a wet or boggy section of trail because you don’t know the trail well enough to know how it would have coped in recent weather, but even if you do then you can limit the damage. In such cases I always ride through the puddle or boggy bit, not around, as I don’t want the trail destroyed. If you’re out riding in those conditions then you’re going to get wet and muddy anyway. If it’s really bad then I’ll either get off and walk that section, or turn back if it looks like those conditions are going to be prevalent.
If I lived somewhere without the option of trails that don’t suffer in the wet then I think I’d probably spend the winter going to trail centres or road riding. I’d rather take the hit in winter and change what I ride than have to ride bad trails all year long due them being destroyed in the winter.
Everyone hates seeing trail sanitisation, but it seems that there are a lot of riders that aren’t prepared to think about the impact that their actions have on the trails.Posted 3 years agoninfanMember
I know there’s stuff we won’t ride because it’ll get ruined.
This! It used to be that most riders applied a little bit of common sense – maybe its the ‘new entrant’ riders who have come from a background of trail centres who expect it to be different? I think anyone who cut their teeth on old fashioned bridleway riding learned pretty quickly through bitter experience the ‘indicators’ of when a particular trail was best left alone. Luckily most (!) areas of the UK have a choice of trails so you can mix in farm trails and fire-road to avoid the worse excesses of the mud fairies.
Probably worth mentioning that much of the of the spamerican emphasis on not riding in the mud is in particular areas, where the soil structure and organic matter content leaves them particularly sensitive to damage, so comparing it with the UK is often an apples and oranges scenario.
I reckon that arrow sign could be usefully redrawn with tyre choices for UK trail centres 😀Posted 3 years agomonshoMember
Everyone hates seeing trail sanitisation, but it seems that there are a lot of riders that aren’t prepared to think about the impact that their actions have on the trails.
We’re an organised group looking after trails in a wood up North, and its something we’re struggling with. As the trails are getting more used, the damage in the winter has destroyed some cracking trails. We try to repair sections with rock and a bit of gravel, not turning the trails into roads at all, just trying to repair the real boggy / wet stuff which turns metres wide from traffic. We will stick drainage in also, which makes a lot of difference where possible. We really try to make it a soft a touch as possible so that the feel of the place is still natural, and the majority of repairs do blend in quite quickly, keeps the trails nice and narrow and can often add good features to the trails.
We do come across a fair bit of opposition to what we do, saying its sanitising natural stuff, but probably have more complaints from those riding the trails in wet weather that they are unridable from the mud – can’t win to be honest. We would much rather spend our Sunday mornings riding, but if there weren’t repairs carried out, the whole place would be trashed from over-riding in the wet.
Guess we’ll keep on doing what we do, try and keep anything to a minimum, put in as much drainage as we can and keep things ridable without going too far. Just wish some of the people who complain about either the sanitation or the mud would come and grab a spade once a month to help and put their ideas across through action, not moaning…Posted 3 years agoBillOddieSubscriber
My local riding area can be broken into three types.
1) Quick draining rocky/sandy moorland that never gets that muddy aside from a few patches. [Cheeky]
2) Woodland singletrack that gets very muddy and takes an age to dry. [Cheeky but more tolerated]
3) Gravel Tracks/”Trail centre” type trails. [legal]
During the worst of the winter I have basically ignored Type 2, others (be they walkers, horsers, or mtbers) have not and the trails are now wide and in some places completely ruined.
It’s not helped that whoever “manages” the woods have also done felling over the wettest winter since records began.
You’d think that most users (with the exception of horsers) would use a bit of common sense when the trails get wet and muddy to avoid making them worse, but apparently not.
The sign Dave shows in his blog post would likely be completely ignored round my way.
It has to be said though wider (legal) access for cycling on footpaths in England and Wales would mean that bridleways and more tolerated cheeky trails (ie trails in woods that aren’t legally anything) get less of a hammering.Posted 3 years agoDelSubscriber
i think i’ve written about this before, but anyway…Posted 3 years ago
there’s a path on dartmoor, plume of feathers to nun’s cross, for those local, that was surfaced by the NT, to great howls from the walking brigade 20 years ago. they put in ( imported ) material and set in place granite water bars – pretty old school approach by modern standards. in any case, it turned a track that had become wider than double track, boggy and peaty in many spots, into a foot wide, sinewy, fast rolling trail, with some interesting little features ( the water bars ). probably among the best bits of trail on that part of the moor now.
i can see why people get upset when their favorite bit of nadgery singletrack gets this treatment, but really, it’ll come back, and if you’re that worried about it, get the mattock out, or just do a load of skids down, and modify it a bit. unless it’s a track used by 4x4s, it’ll naturally reduce down in width over time due to the encroachment of vegetation too.
thing about ‘natural’ trails is that usually none of them are natural at all, and change is inevitable.
also, if you don’t like what trail pixies are doing, get involved as monsho says. if you’re not there your opinion doesn’t count.
BTW, trail pixies can’t drink compliments. 😉towzerMember
“Or trails that are good to ride when the conditions are right, at the expense of riding them year round?” – probably this – use of local knowledge, and will slog through the odd mud fest to make a loop/avoid a busy road.
I now do ‘sensible, polite cheeky’ all the time now, and have reached a level of intolerance with horses (ie rather too many nice trails where I live are now overhorsed – unpassable in 9-12″ deep twisted grass reinforced mudfest as most horse riders don’t appear to be prepared to lay off if the trail conditions aren’t suitable and they haven’t the brains, consideration or ability to not plough up the entire width of the trail). I can’t say that offroad vehicles upset me that much – they have next to nowhere to go and the vast majority of the stuff I see is tractor ruts anyway.
‘sensible, polite cheeky’ – slow and always say hallo with people(which to be fair seems to work pretty much 100%), won’t use if it looks like it will cut up too much and it is in a ‘sensitive’ area (and that includes some totally legal stuff as well).Posted 3 years agofr0sty125Member
I started off in Edale, went up to Hollins Cross, then across Mam Tor along Rushup Edge, then to South Head, down to Coldwell Clough, up to Edale Cross finally Jacobs Ladder.
Weather started off ok then got bad pretty quickly but it was a nice ride.
here are some pictures sorry about the low quality they were taken on my phone.
Posted 3 years ago
and have reached a level of intolerance with horses (ie rather too many nice trails where I live are now overhorsed – unpassable in 9-12″ deep twisted grass reinforced mudfest as most horse riders don’t appear to be prepared to lay off if the trail conditions aren’t suitable and they haven’t the brains
you do know that you can’t do cheeky trails on a footpath using a horse, not the easiest thing to lift over a fence? Or that the name BRIDLEway may be a subtle hint as to why the trail exists?
Horses need exercise, where do you propose exercising and schooling them? The trails will soon dry out and be usable again. Do you really think horse riders want to risk their horses on crap trails either, or have to spend even more time cleaning? What do MTBers do about trail access? what do horse riders do!Posted 3 years agojamesoSubscriber
Interesting topic. I’m generally in favour of believing trails change, evolve and are just erosion marks anyway. Accept them as they are and have some appreciation of what is good and poor riding practice. Pointless just trying to police it over here, it’s just like access imo – the more of a point that’s made the more it becomes an issue where the loudest voice (ie rarely if ever MTB) wins.
thing about ‘natural’ trails is that usually none of them are natural at all, and change is inevitable.
Yup. And expecting everything to challenge the bikes many of us ride these days is unrealistic, ‘natural’ riding can be loads better and loads worse than trail centres, depends on your outlook.
People traveling to ride a pre-set loop (ie strava’d or route-logged stuff) may be the group that it’s harder to manage when the trails are in poor condition, but what can you do, it’s harder to predict the detail of local conditions for them and ‘harder’ to change routes to suit. Local knowledge is great and means you know where to avoid but travel-ride loop-go home is a big part of riding for many.Posted 3 years agojamesoSubscriber
Not picking up on just your point as it’s not the only one making this but
trail damage has been done by horses and landrovers or tractors.
Damage – or just normal use that’s always gone on? Horses get ridden year-round, tractors etc use the ROWs and it all churns the ground but it’s only MTB-perspective that says they’re damaged.Posted 3 years agoocriderMember
You say trail damage, others say general usage.
I wouldn’t want to go down that path where one group start accusing another about wrecking trails. It all sounds a bit red-sock to me.
Just aim for the middle of the puddle and ride on, unless you need a snorkel, of course.Posted 3 years agoTooTallMember
Leigh Woods and Ashton Court are, IMHO, a fine example of what happens when trails get trashed, and a fine example of what can be done to resolve the problem.Posted 3 years ago
Years of abuse with few (stand up Bristol Trails Group) maintaining them – and they do need maintaining. Rider numbers ever increasing, trails encroaching on SSSI’s and generally getting v ugly all year round.
A few miles (not all of it) turned into superb pro-built trails that everyone can get something out of. Better than that, they can take a year-round battering with minimal maintenance. They keep the focus off the natural trails over the winter, ensuring they don’t get so beaten up.
Last figure I saw was 140,000 riders last year. That is a HUGE figure, even the IMBA crew here in the USA were quoting 40,000 a year as a big number of riders.
I think the hybrid solution is a model for the future. Same area all year, but some trails that can take the abuse and draw the traffic in the worst of the weather.ScienceofficerMember
We have the problem of more intsense periods of wet weather and increasing trail use on the Mendip. The issue has become worse over that last 7-8 years, but we saw a jump in traffic a couple of years ago when access to still woods in Bristol was closed.
We have taken a multi-aspect approach of intervening with drainage, cutting open new trails and completely abandoning all notions of compliance with public rights of way legislation.
This allows us to remove our traffic pressure from the ROW network and we’ve realised it has seriously enriched our riding and choices.
Unfortunately, we have also had to be quite selfish about the new/alternative stuff because we know it won’t carry the volume of traffic that the main network sees.
For those with the time to look, there is quite the stealth network on the Mendips these days.Posted 3 years agoPookSubscriber
I’ve seen peaks trails getting trashed despite regular pleas to lay off them. All it’s doing is making people look for or dig new stuff and that seems to be creating conflict – a dangerous route to go down at a time when due to increasing numbers of riders we really need to be getting on with other trail users. There’s some good work being done round this way by groups like peak MTB, @kofthep and ride Sheffield but what they’re working towards is nought without some self regulation by us all as a group.Posted 3 years ago
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