Wet and muddy trails, everybody knows you shouldn’t ride them and given the choice between slop and dry pack I can’t say that I’d want to anyway. But there in lies the problem, you don’t get to choose. You may get one day a week to ride, and the weather better damn well cooperate! It is surprising that in this age of instant and specific- to- your- interests mass communication it could still happen that you arrive at the trail only to find out it’s wet. “Too wet to ride” are the words floating around your head, all the while being denied acknowledgement by your lips. Hey it happens, and as many beautiful days of hero dirt your favorite single track has blessed you with, it would be nice for you to return the favor by not beating the wet trail while it’s down with your tires. Even though you really wanted you ride, deep down you know it wouldn’t be that much fun slipping and sliding around at half speed. But fear not, the day is not lost! Here are some easy alternatives for quality bike time when riding the trail just isn’t an option.
If it’s questionable that the trail is going to be ridable take an extra minute to pack a shovel/rogue hoe, tree trimmers, and work boots when you load up the car. Your sadness about not riding will quickly be replaced with pride for your forethought, as you spend a couple of hours cutting back the overgrowth and fixing the pesky runoff spots. You may even come across downed trees that you can move off the trail, or if necessary report a need for chainsawing. Of course don’t do anything too drastic unless you have had some trail building instruction and permission from the property owners. Don’t have the tools or know-how to do some maintenance? That’s ok, if the trail isn’t super soaked to the point that walking is dangerous (and just as damaging as riding), allow yourself to rediscover the power of a peaceful walk in the woods. If you are open to it, you’ll soon gain a new appreciation for the majestic terrain that you normally hurl yourself through chasing your friends’ KOMs.
Since we all love shreddin’ trail more than anything else, and if we are on our bikes then that’s what we want to do, then maybe it’s time to come to terms with your bike handling skills that are ‘just good enough’. You’re already geared up to ride and chances are there is an open field near the trailhead. This is a perfect time to commit to some systematic, controlled practice!! Track stands, front and rear wheel lifts, tight turns around shoes and water bottles, bunny hops, wheelies, and manuals oh my! Of course the options are endless and you’ll want to focus on one or two until you are giddy from your sick progression! You can work on these skills at home too, and I promise you the practice will pay off in your riding. Not sure how to even start practicing a skill? Search YouTube for guided videos (another rainy day activity!) and you’ll be ready to give it a few hundred tries as soon as that sun comes out. Just a word of warning here, wet shoes on flat pedals can beat the enthusiasm right out of ya!
Trails are closed but you still want to get in some quality time with your bike? Sounds like a great opportunity to get out the soap and scrub brushes. Even if you wash your bike regularly, take some time to really get into the nooks and crannies. Take your chain off and thoroughly de-grease it. Yes, take it off! Take off your wheels, seat, pedals, and any accessories that may be harboring dirt against your frame. If you run tubeless tires consider refreshing the sealant. If you have the tools to remove your bottom bracket and cassette, do it. Clean it. Now this is true bike love. And, it will further motivate you to wait for the trails to really, thoroughly dry out because you wouldn’t want to undo all your hard work!
There you have it, a short order of alternative activities for when the weather is conspiring against you. Of course, if things are really bad you can always ride on the road. I’m just kidding, don’t stoop to that level.