It took 10 minutes of double-track riding for this rider to throw in the towel.
What is a freeze/thaw cycle and how can people experience such radically different conditions despite no change in precipitation. Basically the frost heaves the moist & wet soil at night and the sun’s heat melts that into pudding in the morning. This is why trails can be great while frozen one moment and horribly muddy after the sunlight gets to them. These two radically different conditions can occur within the same ride when the sky is clear of cloud.
Earlier this autumn, a dozen HAFTA members joined in for a laborious day repairing a number of battered trail sections. After a few hours, their hard work had given new life to these areas; bolstering them for future use and enjoyment. These aren’t glorious repairs that most users will notice because they’re buried and low visibility, but despite that low visibility each trail user will benefit from these installations in coming years.
As usual, our hard labour is filed under “Trail Improvements”. When it comes to muscle-powered activities (i.e. mountain bike riding, trail running), trails don’t necessarily get worn-out overnight. But over multiple seasons, or even years, erosion takes a toll on any single-track. On the day in question we set out to fix up crowd favourite, The Boundary Trail A, by placing rock amour across several decaying areas.
For as long as our trails are being used there will always be the necessity of ongoing trail maintenance. Little by little, we’re doing our best to future-proof our trails for the [potentially increasing] traffic they’ll see. Currently we are playing a defensive game of whack-a-mole in this regard; we see a problem and then organize + equip our trails team to fix it. But ideally, through education and advocacy, we would like to avoid unnecessary erosion of our trails caused by users who are unaware that riding or running on muddy trails causes damage. We will never fully beat erosion, but we can slow it to something manageable though mitigating our impacts.
Part of our effort against erosion means that every spring we look for trails whose conditions are trending downwards and then get to task of triage and scheduling repair. It’s the right thing to do, it’s necessary and it’s actually rewarding for those who roll up their sleeves to help because each time they use that trail they are reminded of the sweat-equity they invested and take pride in their contribution.
We have a dedicated group of volunteers who understand this and are improving our trails whenever possible. HAFTA wants to broaden that base of people so that the trails will continue to improve. Everyone can help by spreading the message “ride dirt, not mud”. If there’s mud on your heels or your wheels, please turn around and head out. Come back to enjoy our amazing trail system on a drier day!
To this day’s volunteers and future volunteers, and to all who support our trails we’re extremely thankful!