Riding in Wet Conditions

A good way to start this article is to talk about trail damage. When I first wrote this article I wasn't thinking about an international audience, but more about my own experience riding. The simple fact of the matter is where I live the trails are almost entirely sand. No amount of riding on sand trails seems to make any difference and trails I have been riding on for ten years are still the same all this time.

Moving on, riding on wet trails is the one time when mountain bikes are bound to do visible and perhaps permanent damage. Personally I avoid riding on wet trails because it's a pain to pedal with sand caked on my wheels while riding with brakes that don't work worth a darn. And the cleanup afterwards, bicycle and my person, probably isn't worth the ride.

The message is, 'Ride Responsibly' and minimize potential for trail damage. Having said that, let's move on.

First, you might be concerned what might happen to your bike if you are ever caught in the rain. Basically rain, ponded water, mud, dirt, sand etc will not seriously damage your bike if it has 'sealed bearings' all the way around (bottom bracket, headset, front and rear axle, rear deraileur cogs) and as long as you practice proper mtb maintenance. Any cheap mtb will not have sealed bearings, so don't expect it to last in adverse conditions.

If you are caught in the rain or in some way forced to deal with wet trails just to get back to your vehicle, keep the following things in mind:

-lightning kills and you are sitting on metal. Your tires do not contain sufficient rubber to insulate you. You are at risk. Think about it.

-wet roots provide virtually ZERO traction and are dangerous, always try to hit wet roots perpendicular (like a 'T' shape, not at an angle), otherwise you can quickly find yourself on the ground

-clay is very slippery when wet

-anything moss-covered is slippery when wet

-mud / sand can and will build up on your tires, making them heavier than normal. Thanks to physics this makes pedaling much harder. If you are planning on a long ride in the mud, take this into account.

-mud and water have adverse affects on your ability to brake, meaning your brakes aren't going to work worth a darn. You'll need extra braking time, which includes a longer following distance from the rider in front of you.

Remember, riding in wet conditions can damage the trail so don't do it on purpose. And lightning kills.

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Riding / Manuevering
Dealing with Sand
Riding in Wet Conditions
Getting Over Small Obstacles
Reading the Terrain
Setting a Pace
Balance Part 1 - Two Wheels
Target Heart Rate / Monitors
Target Heart Rate / Monitors
Staying Hydrated
Staying Hydrated
Learning Gears
Using the Front Brake