Here Comes The Rain!
Well, it finally happened! The heavens parted and decided to pee down upon us leaving a soggy mess in its wake. We have all got used to the prolonged dry spell…roads melting, skin burning red, sun lotion sales through the roof and dirt trails…well just very dry and dusty.
For some, the rain is enough to put the fear of the higher power into you, but I tend to relish such discomfort as it adds another dimension to the day and more variables to calculate during the ride…but that doesn’t mean I love every waking minute of it either.
I tend to seek out a lot of forest trails as it’s my preference. The forest has a delayed reaction to the weather. The open fields can get wet and scorched very quickly as it is open to the elements, but the trees tend to shelter the ground and each other, thus making it still wet when elsewhere it is dry or it can still be raining after it has stopped elsewhere too.
You might ask how it can still rain in the forests when none is falling from the sky? Well, what I mean is that water is still falling from the leaves on the trees…so you might enter the forests to seek shelter from the elements but within time it will percolate down to the surface.
Over the long dry period, the trees have shed a lot of leaves too, adding to the dry decaying matter on the ground. The soil has crumbled to fine powder and when married to the fallen debris, creates a 4 inch moveable surface that your tyres just yearn to slip and slide all over.
Now, add some water and this becomes a bit of a cake mix…and it becomes slippery and slimy in the blink of an eye. However, whilst he open fields dry out quite quickly, because it’s still warm outside…the forest stays damp, moist and a mishap waiting to happen.
If you’re on flat terrain then there isn’t much of a problem, however take in a few climbing trails, narrow twisting turns and tree roots that have been sanded down to a sheen…then you’re going to be working hard to get to where you need to go.
Case in point! The other day I was filming for the YouTube channel and thought it a good idea to take a trail that would cut across a valley floor. Down one hillside and the up the other. I was feeling confident with my newly fitted knobbly tyres: Michelin Anakee Wilds, but I hadn’t factored for 6 inch tall tree roots on a steep hill in the twisting narrows. Suffice to say, my momentum up the hill was dramatically halted as my rear tyre thought better of it and happily spun freely without making any progress up the hill.
Much swearing, grunting, rocking back and forth…and eventually was able to eek along up the hill over many roots until I reached the summit. A tad sweaty and out of breath…it was a work out I hadn’t bargained for either.
Within the space of 48hrs, the dirt trails have gone from parched cracked super highways to compacted sludge-fests that’s only mission is to throw you off your bike, get mud on your arse and to bruise your ego.
Whilst finding new adventures and seeking out new trails in far flung places might be the ideal for many riders, there is something also special about regularly riding trails in your own area, as you get to notice the subtle changes as the year passes by and the weather changes.
There will be more stark changes to come and when autumn arrives and the leaves fall to the ground, there will undoubtedly be some perilous trails in the forests that you may want to avoid too. Over the last couple of months, I have noticed so many trees and branches that have fallen over and in many cases blocking trails too.
Being forced to get off the bike to clear a path to slip through has become a regular effort, but now as the rains come and the forest burst into life again, you might expect more goings on too. When the winds pick up, it can be a bit like you’re in the middle of a tornado when you’re in the trees. The trees are swaying, the noise is deafening and debris is being thrown around and seemingly heading your way too.
It can be a scary place to be but awe inspiring too…but probably not somewhere you should loiter in either.
So as I sit here contemplating my autumn and winter rides, I’ll also be thinking about the slime fest I’ll encounter along the way…my muddy clothes and boots that will need hosing down after each trip…as well as the bike. But at least I’ll know that it won’t be a boring ride and the trails will surely throw up more challenges to overcome too.
Check out my latest videos on RevelatorAlf on Youtube and there will be a lot more to follow soon.