Muddy Trails – Freeze thaw season

Unfortunately due to poor trail conditions we must cancel our planned ride for Dec 24, 2017.   We figure this is an appropriate time to model good behavior as trail conditions this time of the year are hit or miss.

Most riders understand that you shouldn’t ride the trails when they’re muddy. Most riders understand acceptable riding conditions as well. Sunny…dry…go ride! Perfect. But what about this time of year? When is it ok to ride without doing permanent damage to the trail? How would you know if it’s OK to ride before you get to the trail? Understanding the freeze-thaw cycle can help you make that decision of when to ride the trail, when to stay on the road, or when it’s time to take a rest day, drink beer & watch football.

How it Works

As the temperature drops, moisture in the soil freezes. As most of you know from that forgetful moment when you leave a water bottle in the freezer, water expands as it freezes.

When this happens on a trail, the composition of the soil is pretty much blown apart by the expansion of the frozen water molecules. Then, as the temperatures rise, the ‘blown up’ soil compresses and, with water, makes…MUD. Nasty, slimy, slippery mud.

Factors Impacting Freeze-Thaw

Moisture

The real issue is the presence of moisture in the soil. Even rain from a week or so ago can impact the moisture level in the soil & start the whole process. If the soil is dry, freezing temps won’t have much of an impact on the soil at all.

Temperature

Air temps and soil temps are two very different things. Let’s say it’s 40 degrees for a few days and then the overnight temperature dips to 28 or 29 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of hours. Even though the air temp is below freezing, the ground temperature probably won’t go below freezing since dirt is a pretty good insulator. The opposite is true as well. If the ground has been frozen solid for a few days, having air temperatures above freezing for a few hours won’t be enough to thaw the ground.

Snow can be a factor in that it has a relationship to the soil temperature. Snow is a great insulator that can either buffer the warmer soil from colder air temperatures OR buffer the colder soil temperatures from warmer air temperatures.

Time

A very common situation in Ohio is one where the trails are frozen until around 10 or 11am & then the increasing air temp and direct sunshine are given enough time to start the thawing process. Two hours can literally change the trail from a perfect, frozen, hard-pack to a sloppy, slushy mess. If you’re going to ride during this period, early is usually better.

COMBO Mud Story2

Make Good Choices

No matter how much you think you understand the combination of moisture, temperature & time, there’s no substitute for making good choices when you get to the trail. If you see that you’re leaving deep ruts and mud is sticking to your bike, it’s not OK to ride. It’s really frustrating when you’ve checked the weather forecast, packed up all your stuff, made it to the trail and then realize that it’s not in great shape. No weather forecast makes up for good choices on the trail. Be prepared to bail & hit the road, hug your local trail-builder and help preserve the trails for everyone.


Editor’s Note: This story was originally written and published by our friends over at the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization (COMBO) and is re-published here with permission. Thanks to COMBO for the thorough explanation of freeze-thaw cycles. Check out the COMBO website here at combomtb.com


 

 

Dig in! – Alameda Park

Donate in December to help unlock IMBA funding

Trail Pittsburgh has worked in partnership with Butler County on the planning, design and construction of singletrack trails at Alameda Park. Over 20 miles of sustainable loop trails were proposed in the county’s 2014 Master Plan. Trail Pittsburgh has constructed 6.5 miles of so far utilizing both a professional trails contractor and a skilled volunteer stewardship team. Alameda Singletrack is a unique trail system of sustainably constructed, bike-optimized trails for different user groups and skill levels. Trail Pittsburgh currently has $10,000 in funding and materials to continue work through 2017. With additional funding and community support, the group hopes to complete phase two in 2018-2019. Once the singletrack trails are complete, a downhill trail, skills park and pumptrack will be added in phase three. Trail Pittsburgh stewards contributed over 2,000 volunteer hours in 2017. Alameda Park is quickly gaining popularity in the local trail community and is providing a tourism boost to Butler County and the region.

Make a donation today and help Trail Pittsburgh raise funds for this great project.

Donate Here!

National Public Lands Day at South Park

We sure could use your help again! Free T-shirts and Lunch!

Sept 30th 9am-12pm

Join Trail Pittsburgh, REI and Allegheny County Parks in celebrating National Public Lands Day! Volunteers will work on improving the singletrack trails in South Park on a variety of small group projects for all skill levels. No experience is necessary. All volunteers should be in closed toe shoes, bring reusable water bottle and gardening/work gloves if they have them. Tools and instruction are provided. Lunch and beverages are provided for volunteers at 12pm.

Be sure to register at REI’s website to ensure your shirt, lunch and beverages! https://www.rei.com/events/national-public-lands-day/174461

Spring 2017 Settlers Cabin Workdays

As you know, the trails in Settlers Cabin park are 100% volunteer maintained. This would not be possible without the help of the trail user community. We would like to invite you, your families and your friends to come out for one of our upcoming work days in the park. The schedule is as follows:

14 May from 1730-1930 we will be doing general corridor maintenance on the RED trail. We will meet at the Old Park Office at the end of Greer Rd.

https://www.rei.com/…/stewardship-project-volunteer-…/174412

03 June Mega Work Day – We will be rehabbing the Green trail between the Tomahawk cutoff and the Power Lines. We will meet at the Old Park Office at the end of Greer Rd. Pizza will be served!

https://www.rei.com/…/national-trails-day-mega-work-…/174460

15 June from 1730-2030 another general corridor maintenance – mostly to clear overgrowth along the race course.We will meet at the Old Park Office at the end of Greer Rd.

https://www.rei.com/…/stewardship-project-volunteer-…/174436

-Settlers Cabin Steward-

TKMBD Moved to the WheelMill!

 

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Too cold, wet and muddy today to take kids mountain biking outside – therefore we have the WheelMill!! Pittsburgh’s most awesome indoor bike park.

6815 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15208.  Meet at 10A this AM free admission for TKMBD participants. We will order pizza around 1130A.  See you there!

National Trails Day June 4th / A Great Success!

100 Volunteers Registered for National Trails Day as Trail Pgh teamed up with REI to have a Mega Workday building bridges, repairing and creating sustainable trails for all to enjoy! Thank You REI for $10,000 Grant towards the Waterfall Trail at Settlers Cabin. Thank You Allegheny County Parks for all who helped including the Park Rangers!

Thank You REI for $10,000 Grant towards the Waterfall Trail at Settlers Cabin. Thank You Allegheny County Parks for all who helped including the Park Rangers!

TKMBD a huge success!

With the forecast of a washout on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015, Trail Pittsburgh decided to take the annual Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day indoors for the first time in the history of IMBA.  We can’t thank our partner, The Wheel Mill, enough for hosting all the little rippers for a free riding session, followed by a lunch with their families.

Trail Pittsburgh visits IMBA HQ

Trail Pittsburgh had an incredible opportunity to send one of our social media volunteers Jeremy Saylor to IMBA Headquarters for chapter leadership training.  While in Boulder, IMBA trained Jeremy on best practices for social media, membership marketing, email communication, and membership engagement.  The training comes at a perfect time for Trail Pittsburgh as we finish our rebranding effort.

valmont-jeremy

In addition to spending 3 days in the classroom, IMBA took the crew out for world class mountain biking at some of the awesome trail systems in the Boulder area.  Earlier this year, we were fortunate enough to send Colin Burch to chapter leadership training at IMBA HQ for trail planning and master planning leadership training.

If scoring free trips to Colorado sounds fun to you consider stepping up to a leadership position in our organization!  Email volunteer@trailpittsburgh.org to help out with trail planning, mapping, social media, communications, grants, or outreach!