Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lessons Learned: Wet Trails

(Written in late September)-but still applicable in early December '14!

Riding wet trails isn’t easy by any means and I’ve taken the opportunity a few times to find myself struggling and feeling really apprehensive.

There was a particular time when I went out on a day that was probably too much for my skill level at the time.

Since then each time I’ve gone out I feel like I have gained more confidence and feel a bit more comfortable of my bike and my handling skills.

A few things that I’ve learned or take into consideration when riding on wet trails:

Be cautious and look at it as a chance to work on basic handling skills. One has to be careful on slimy areas and leaning too far into turns; you can fishtail or easily wipe out. You need to learn how to ride over roots and rocks without sliding out. Learn to face things straight on- angles are not your friend and they will make your tire slip out from under you.

Riding up inclines, especially rock-covered ones, will be trickier than you think.

Respect what you are riding. Wet trails in the fall months can be a bit unpredictable in the sense that you have nature to contend with. Not only are there rocks/roots, but you have nuts (acorn and walnut for example) along with fallen leaves. Nuts can make you lose your balance a bit (this is something to take note for those who do paved riding, especially when on smaller tires.)

Don't forget-leaves will stay wet for a long time.

Air pressure can be lowered, but be aware how low you can go; tubless tires have more leeway than tube.
Try a fatbike!

You do not have to ride over the wet, fallen tree. You can walk it. Especially if it’s hard to hit it straight on; same goes for large rocks. *Sometimes it’s wiser to just walk a spot*

Traction is difficult to maintain sometimes, you may find that you have to squat or sit to get up hills.

Ride up inclines while sitting back (or squatting back). It's something that you will learn with time. I've had to accept that not all techniques can be easily shown. I have also had to accept that even tho it sounds weird, it works. Keeps weight on your back tire so you don't spin out. Now I just have to get over my nerves of falling backwards.

Have fun! It’s not every day that you get to go play in the mud.

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