Trail users asked to mind conditions

As winter weather settles in for the next several months, representatives of local mountain biking groups are asking riders to be mindful of trail conditions and respect the hard work volunteers have put into making Gorge-area trails the world-class singletrack that they have become.

This time of year, it means not riding in heavy rain and staying off trails prone to the freeze-thaw cycle. That may seem like common sense, but the number of torn-up trails and muddy bikes seen on the back of vehicles the past couple weeks indicates otherwise.

“Some people may not understand that our trails around here are built and maintained by volunteers,” said Temira Lital, Hood River Area Trail Stewards board member. “They are easily damaged and take a lot of energy to fix; and the more time we spend repairing trails, the less time we can spend building new ones.”

Along with the obvious rain and mud, an even worse condition for riding is during a freeze-thaw cycle, when frost penetrates deep into the soil, then thaws as the sun hits it. The popular eastside Whoopdee trail was closed earlier this week due to that condition and the fact that riders continued to use the trail.

“It was getting damaged but people kept riding it anyway, so it was closed,” Lital said. “Winter riding can be great here, you just have to watch the conditions and choose where to go. If the ground is frozen, the trails are smooth and tacky and super-fun. The problem is when the sun hits trails and thaws them out.”

Another rule to follow is, if you insist on riding in poor conditions, ride through puddles and muddy sections, not around them; it causes less damage.

n Check out what Hood River Area Trail Stewards are up to at hrats.org or on Facebook.

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