Mud Glorious Mud – get out and ride!
January 13th, 2017
Mud Glorious Mud – stick two fingers up to winter!
Getting filthy muddy on a regular basis is one of mountain biking’s unique privileges.
I say privilege, as there’s not many activities or sports that you can do in absolutely any weather condition and still have so much fun. We’re lucky.
I’m actually writing this sat in my base layer and undershorts, with that post-ride mud speckled grin.
We all know that no matter how bad the weather looks from inside a nice warm home, it’s never as bad when you get out in it.
Waterproof jackets and shorts are easy to come by these days, and bikes are pretty hardy to the sloppy stuff too.
If we stuck to fair weather, we wouldn’t get much riding done. So stick two fingers up to winter and get out there in the filth!
If you don’t have to ride on tarmac to get to your trails, fit some suitable tyres. They don’t have to be winter specific – just a fairly open lugged design to cut in to the mud and clear well.
It’s worth letting some air out to maximise your contact patch, and if you fancy a real good slip and slide – get the flat pedals out.
Get a decent front mudguard (loads right here) on to keep as much mud out your face as possible.
You’ll be able to ride faster – which means more grinning and out of control hilarity!
It’s worth investing in some decent waterproof shorts to go with your jacket (group test right here).
You may not be fussed about getting caked, but waterproof materials hold on to mud far less than porous fabrics. Which means you can avoid that shit-in-a-nappy feel when sat on the saddle, that seasoned mountain bikers know only too well.
Eyewear helps too. Some don’t bother, but I swear by a decent set of clear lens glasses. And keep a cloth in the chest pocket of your jacket to wipe them with every now and then.
Last thing before you head out is to leave some wellies; a warm jacket and a beanie by the front door. You’ll want these the second you return…
Slip and Slide
Once you get past the illusion that you’ll be in control, everything becomes fun.
Expect to slip; expect to go further sideways than you do forwards, and expect to crash!
Hammering in the mud is hilarious and keeps you on your toes the whole time. If you get stuck in, it can dramatically improve your bike handling. The key is being engaged – don’t be a passenger!
You’ll need to be creative with lines to get the best traction – foliage at the side of the trail helps, and zig-zagging can help when climbing.
But when it comes to descending it’s often just crisis management!
To me that’s part of the attraction – keeping a bike rubber side down in the thick of winter can feel like riding a bucking bronco. Scary at times – but always fun (check out the Hack Bike Derby video right here – it’s the perfect example of winter shredding!)
It’s important not to tense up – go with the flow and use your reflexes to react. It’s amazing what you can get away with if you commit.
Keep at it and that smile will be joined by cackles and whoops.
Riding in winter conditions is so much fun – and no matter how cold and muddy you get, there’s always a post-ride smile.
If your bike is still wet when you get home, you may as well get stuck in with the cleaning immediately.
Mud slips off best when wet – so get your dirty kit off and put the warm kit on that you left by the door on the way out.
Hose your kit down at the same time as your bike – it’s kinder to the washing machine.
If you’re chucking your bike in the boot of the car and you don’t have a way of cleaning it first – let it dry out completely. Most of the mud will come off with a brush, leaving a decent rinse to tidy it up afterwards.
Use your common sense when cleaning your bike – avoid jet-washing bearings; and pay particular attention to your drive train. It’s worth investing in some decent cleaners and solvents. Pedros make some great stuff that’s good to the environment – check it out right here.
Keep at it!
Winter riding is messy business, but if you pick the right spots it’s so much fun (check our sideshow below)
Your local single track might become too claggy, so it’s worth venturing further afield. The man made trail centres and bike parks are all built specifically to cope with winter conditions – and many of them are actually better when wet.
Get your riding kit sorted and plan some day trips.
Winter riding is bloody brilliant if you get stuck in!
Still need convincing?
Watch Danny Hart pull everyones pants down at the World Championships in Champery, back in 2011. Think he got that good at riding mud by gazing at the rain drops on the window?
It’s probably the best bit of bike handling ever seen in adverse conditions – enjoy!