Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The trails in East Tennessee have taken a beating this summer with all the rainfall and irresponsible riders. Still yet I see/hear many people out riding and hurting our local trails from internet posts and texts. The local MTB club usually takes care of 3-4 trail systems but they are stretched so thin. I manage the local college campus trails by myself with the help of a few members of the cycling team and occasionally a couple of local volunteers. I have a good following, if I asked I could have 10-20 volunteers on any given day but the 5.5 miles of trail I oversee does not require a huge turnout for basic maintenance. I usually get help when I'm working on larger projects with students that need volunteer or work hours for graduation.

I guess my bitchin' is for people to get out and to not get out. (??? you ask??) Get out and help work on a trail YOU ride and don't go out and ride on those days the trail needs to dry out. Go ride your road bike or a gravel trail. Heck this isn't just for my local area. If you ride a trail in your area do some research and find out what group manages or maintains it then VOLUNTEER. You'll be amazed how good you feel afterwards. You may develop a little pride where you ride and not to mention the friendships you will make. BE PROACTIVE .... please! That includes if you see something that needs attention out there... let someone know asap. I have to say the majority that ride ETSU have my number. I get texts almost daily letting me know of things out there that may need my attention.

To follow-up with Mike's post regarding poor trail conditions at Five Points, please remember our trails must dry prior to use to avoid long term damage. Some ask, "why?, this is mountain biking after all and mud is part of enjoying trails." well, that may be your perception but that should not be the reality.

When trails are used during wet conditions (typically 18-24 hours after a rain, longer when we have had sustained rains) there are a number of negative consequences that can arise. One such example would be any area of the trail where water can puddle will often quickly grow in size as riders attempt to bypass, making the problem worse.

Another consequence can be rapid wearing of grade reversals that are designed to shed water on downhill sections of trail, these are what many believe are "jumps" on our trails. When these grade reversals become worn in the center they no longer allow water to shed properly and thus allow H2O to gain enough momentum to erode the trail surface, as erosion worsen the trail becomes ditch like, and very difficult to repair. What play's a role in the amount of damage that occurs to a trail during wet conditions? First and foremost soil composition, more rock means greater resistance to damage, more clay means much more likely damage during we conditions. Secondly, trail design and grade, steep trails are more likely to erode in wet conditions, this is due to water running down the trail and trail users slipping or skidding during climbs and descents. More opportunities for water to shed from the trail, like proper outslope and grade reversals and dips, allow the trail to be used more quickly after rain but do not allow it to be used in rain.

Lastly, the greatest factor that plays a role in how quickly a trail can be used after a rain is the volunteer workforce willing to repair damage to trails used in less than ideal conditions. If each of the trails maintained by SORBA-Chattanooga had a small army maintaining them, much like WOM, they would be able to be used more quickly after a rain and be in far better condition in general. So, with the above said, here are some things you can do to help make our trails better: 1) Avoid the trails for 18-24 hours after a rain (some days this time period is longer or shorter) 2) If you see a puddle, ride through it, not around it. 3) If you ride the trails in our community please volunteer at 1 workday every 6 months. If riders did this in our community we would have nearly 4000 additional volunteer hours per year over what is contributed today (500 riders x 1 workday at 4 ours x 2 times per year). This would result in near perfect trail conditions almost all of the time. 4) Lastly, please heed the advice of those that care for and manage the trails in our community. When individuals ask that you avoid a trail due to conditions please respect their advice and ride on the road, The Guild Trail, indoors, or at a trail that is considered acceptable for use. Thanks for taking the time to read this post! Happy Trails!

I'll go as far and say that you should volunteer at least one work day every other month, if not more! The trails I manage have seen multiple mud holes formed this year. There's only two factors here too; the weather - we've had far more than usual rainfall this year and lastly riders, plain and simple. Being selfish because its the only time in your schedule that you can get a ride in no matter what the conditions are is pretty lame. The impact made riding a wet trail requires HOURS of maintenance repair by somebody... is that going to be you???

If not you may start seeing some of these around here...

LAter G..........................

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