Freeze Thaw

MMBA trail access, advocacy, and related news (non-IMBA Chapter Topics)

Freeze Thaw

Postby Spinwheel » January 16th, 2012, 12:24 am

Interesting take on the freeze thaw cycle's effect on the trail - found on the front page of the HMBA site.

Just replace the words "clay" with soil and "Indiana" with Michigan, and it may apply to a trail near you. Not sure I like the term "ruts" though, I figure if I leave tracks more than a few times early in the ride... I bail and go option 2.

Hoosier Mountain Bike Association
Written by griff
Saturday, 29 November 2008 18:00

When soil freezes all the moisture turns to ice crystals between the particles of the soil and in clay or loam soil they are tightly packed together. As the moisture freezes the crystals expand and tear the clay apart shattering it, then as it thaws the soil become more porous and allows more moisture in. This is repeated with every successive thaw.

In Indiana we can get as many as 100 freeze thaw cycles in a season.

So, please be very careful when trying to ride the trails in the winter. The best time to ride is when the trail is frozen solid. On days when the temperature goes below freezing at night, the worst thing we can do is wait for the sun to come out and warm up the trail before riding. The trails can be very soft even if it hasn?t rained recently. Even if the temperature stays below freezing South facing trails can defrost in sunlight and turn to mush.

If you are leaving ruts in the trail where you have ridden please leave the trail. The ruts will allow even more water to remain on the trail and make it even worse. If people see you riding they will want to ride too, so very soon the trail reaches a point of meltdown.
See you on the trail
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