Winter Mountain Biking is Fun, But Treat Trails With Care

winter mountain bike

This cold stretch hasn’t deterred brave riders from getting on their bikes and hitting the trails. (Even cold weather makes for fun riding in the Mountain Bike Capital of the East Coast.)

Right now, the trails are in pretty great, albeit frozen, conditions for mountain biking. And we need to work together to keep them in great shape.

Once daytime temperatures return to above freezing, all that frozen soil will liquefy into mud … and lots of it. It will coat your bike, strip soil, create ruts, and damage trails. This damage can persist for months. With short days and cool temps, the trail takes a long time to dry.

Here’s your annual reminder from Roanoke IMBA on how to take care of the trails during the winter season:

  • Ride when the ground is still frozen. Layer up and your bike and your bike mechanic will be happier, and the trails will stay in better condition for all riders.
  • Check out some new trails. Unfortunately, some of our favorite local trails (Carvins Cove and Explore Park) are the most prone to freeze-thaw damage. Many of our National Forest trails hold up better and don’t get nearly as affected by the melt-freeze cycle in the winter.
  • Do some trail work. Not really feeling the winter riding? Come on out and help build and maintain the trails. Volunteers are always needed to help with Rock N’ Roll Trail, email volunteers@greenways.org to get involved.
  • Try gravel riding. Pull that road bike off the trainer and check out some of the amazing backcountry gravel roads in the area. Many of those fire road climbs you do on a mountain bike are very doable on a road bike, plus it adds a new element of challenge! Want to dabble? Check out the VES Gravelocity event on Jan. 14.