This was posted up on PAMBAs website. Please read, but most of all get out and ride.
By Jon Forester,
This time of year it can be fun or frustrating to mountain bike in Central Illinois. Jack Frost is settling in for the season and late season rains never have the chance to dry up before he does. Often times, the trails are frozen solid, but it’s too cold to ride. Other times, the weather is beautiful, but then the trails are too muddy or soft to ride. Following is a great description of what freeze/thaw cycles are and how to avoid bad trail conditions.
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 which shatters it, then as it thaws the soil becomes more porous and allows more moisture in. This is repeated with every successive thaw. We can get as many as 100 freeze thaw cycles in a season. 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 you 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 of ½” or greater 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. If you would like to find out the trail conditions on your particular trail before driving there please visit the PAMBA forum. The trails listed on our website are maintained by the Peoria Area Mountain Biking Association and all the design, maintenance and building work is done voluntarily by local mountain bikers. If you would like to help maintain the trails you ride, look for trail care notices on the forum, then come out a lend a hand.