Friday Monsoons are a Mountain Biker’s Nightmare

So, you’ve had your plans ready to go all week.  Saturday is your big chance to go riding.  It’s an epic plan.  Every detail of your ride has been worked out.  You know where you are meeting, how many miles you are riding, and most importantly, who is bringing your post-ride beverages.  It’s the moment you’ve waited for all week.

But then, the rain starts falling.  It’s Friday.  Will the trails dry out in time?  Maybe it won’t rain too long?  Crap.  It’s pouring. …for hours.  Uggh.

Is this an isolated storm?  Is it a metaphor for the black cloud that hovers above you the rest of the week?  Sure it rained hard at home, but maybe it wasn’t so bad at the trailhead.

Nope. It was bad.  Your plans have been ruined.

Alum Creek Trail Conditions for June 23, 2014

Report for June 24, 2014: I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of red lately on the trail conditions page at I wouldn’t say that mountain bikers love droughts, but they probably mind them a little bit less than your average farmer.

What do you do at this point?  Do you move your ride to Sunday and hope the trails have dried out?  Do you drive further away to an area that wasn’t hit as hard?  Do you hit the road instead?  Or, do you just say “screw it” and stick to your plan?  A little mud never hurt anyone, right?

COMBO IMBA Launch Party July 19, 2014

The Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization (COMBO) is becoming a part of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) and is ready to celebrate. Hopefully Mother Nature will allow the event to proceed.

This was the dilemma I was faced with last weekend.  I had carefully calibrated my weekend and was ready for an epic ride at Chestnut Ridge Metropark south of Columbus, Ohio.  It was going to be my first trip to the park all season and I was going to log several laps.  After riding myself to exhaustion I was going to volunteer to help Combo (Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization) hold a time trial on the 8-mile singletrack loop.

But then, the rain started falling.  On the eve of the big event, Combo, the stewards of Chestnut Ridge, were forced to cancel.  The trails were hit hard with rain and a big event like this would surely damage the trail and lead to a lot more volunteer hours.

Even if it was easy to know what the right call was, I’m sure it didn’t feel good to move the event.  This was a big deal.  It wasn’t just a time trial.  This was Combo’s big launch party for becoming an IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) Chapter.  They had a cookout and a night ride planned.  There were a lot of man hours that went into it and people had set aside time in their schedules.

(The event has been rescheduled for July 19th.  I hope you can attend and support this awesome group.)

It was frustrating for me to say the least.  I feel like we’ve gotten a lot of rain this year.  (I only deal in feelings, not facts.)  For as much as I talk and write about mountain biking, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to do a lot of actual trail time.  I’ve spent more time riding on the road and spinning in the basement than I have floating through the forest.

This was going to be my big day.

It was easy to see what the right call was, but it didn’t feel good to change my riding plans.

Instead, I opted to ride the bike paths of Columbus, Ohio – for the second weekend in a row.  I did a 53-mile jaunt down to Easton Town Center and back with a few fun detours along the way.  I was mostly pedaling at a relaxed pace and enjoying the scenery, but I threw in a lot of fartleks (saying that always makes me giggle) to turn it into a pretty tough workout with lots of intense moments.

Hopefully, the rain slows down a little this month so I can hit the trails more often.  At the very least, I’m putting some restrictions on Mother Nature – no watering Thursday-Sunday.  Monday irrigation is preferred.

5 thoughts on “Friday Monsoons are a Mountain Biker’s Nightmare

  1. I feel the same way James. Whenever it rains I always look at how much rain fell and I try to figure out in my head how long before I can hit the dirt.That is also one of the reasons I road ride when the roads are good but the trail are not.We have a lot of good secondary roads in my neck of the woods that are excellent for road riding. We also have quite a few bike paths that are paved and also fine gravel which I ride my MTB on with my sons .Oh the 19th is the same day we have the time trail at Reagan Park which I plan on doing so I can’t make Chestnut Ridge.

  2. Living in a rural area I am lucky enough that if the trails are too muddy I can hit back gravel roads. This past weekend there was the 100 mile run on the Mohican trail so on Sunday I did just that. I was able to get 93 miles in with over 8000 feet of climbing. It doesn’t help my single track handling work but climbing is climbing, normally.

  3. That is a lot of climbing Brad! Would you mind showing the roads that you hit. If you are referring to the Mohican area I would love to know some of the routes.

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