“When dealing with a freeze thaw cycle, it’s best to ride trails when they’re frozen,” says Greg Carr the Southern Off-road Bicycling Association Tri-Cities Chapter Trail Boss and ETSU graduate.
Welcome to the first installment of a mountain biking trail update for ETSU and East Tennessee. Whether one is a casual rider or everyday shredder this will be the weekly stop to plan a ride. Why a trail update? It is very important not to destroy the hard work of volunteers by riding trails that are too wet. Men and women build trails in the region without pay to enjoy them too.
“There is no such thing as trail gnomes,” says Nathan “Biceps” Cole, Science Hill High School Mountain Bike Team assistant coach, who can be seen at most volunteer trail workdays in the region.
The freeze/thaw effect happens when the temperature drops below freezing. The moisture in the soil freezes causing it to weaken. When the temperature warms, the top layer thaws and becomes saturated with water. The moisture is unable to shed properly or absorb into the frozen soil below.
Along comes a rider and cuts a rut through the thawed top-layer. Then the soil freezes or dries with said rut in the trail. Not only is this rut permanent until repaired by a builder, but it will also impede the future water shedding, thus causing more damage and future trail obstacles that will need to be repaired.
“After the rain, give trails 24 to 48 hours to dry this time of the year,” Carr said. “Most trails in our area have damage because of folks not abiding by this.”
It is important for trail users to care for the regions natural assets in order to maintain them for future generations and current users. That means more under layers for the cold, more greenway rides for cardiovascular endurance training and less single-track shredding for those trying to send it this time of year.
Projected forecast this week from WJHL and rain from the weekend means riders will need to wait until late Tuesday or Wednesday morning to ride single-track. The afternoon on Wednesday may see some thaw and trail conditions will need to be monitored closely.
“I’d stay off until Wednesday,” Carr said.
There are many greenways to get a two-wheel fix during East Tennessee’s rainy season: the Tweetsie Trail in Johnson City and Elizabethton, the Erwin Linear Trail and the paved trail in the Kingsport Greenbelt are three scenic routes one can ride in the wet.
Make no mistake about it; Johnson City, ETSU and the East Tennessee Region is becoming a powerhouse in Outdoor Recreation. This is a result of the old guard land trustees shift to a new thinking of land use rather than land restrictions. It is smarter users caring for the natural assets that will maintain the current level of enjoyment in the region. Please respect the area and wait to ride dry or frozen trails.
If you do not have a bicycle and want to ride, rentals are available through Buc Bikes at Campus Recreation. There are local business that also offer competitive pricing on rentals of bicycles for all ages and skill levels.