Can someone explain to me why it is ok to be against riding on local trails if it's too muddy, but it is ok to have muddy profile pictures riding on local trails?
Why does SORBA advise against riding on trails if it's too wet or muddy only to see riders in the community seemingly
SORBA Chattanooga would never willingly advise anyone to ride on a trial that has been offically closed, no more than a city government would encourage the running of stop signs. Will people do it, of course. It's SORBA Chattanooga's role to provide adequate education during closures to maximize the education which will hopefully minimize a user's frustration.
Why does Enterprise South tend to face closures more than other trail systems?
ESNP is SORBA Chattanooga's busiest trail system in that there is more use per mile than any of the others systems in the area. For example, where generally a single lap at Raccoon is a fairly standard ride, a similar ride might require three laps at ESNP. So immediately we're up to triple the use from a single rider. Combine that with the the system's ability to accommodate all skill levels and you have a system that will require a a great deal of work to continue being accommodating to all riders. With that, SORBA Chattanooga has decided to take steps to limit the use of the trails when conditions are poor in order to proactively preserve the resource, rather than wait until it's
Now, when you compound this issue with the reality that ESNP also serves as the de facto beginner trail, a new concern is introduced. Do you rely on uneducated trail users to determine when conditions are appropriate for use, or do you take steps to limit all use when conditions are poor to preserve the resource? Well, I think the answer is clear.
It is imperative that we, as a user community, do everything we can to meet the expectations of our land managers. Simply put, if they're not happy we don't have trails to ride. Thus keeping trail conditions at or above these levels requires a great deal of work, work that currently falls on far too few shoulders. This exaggerated work load leads to less preventative maintenance which in turn results in more significant and prolonged problems.
Guess what prolonged issues lead to? Yep, closures.
So what does all this have to do with mud? Mud is a pretty good indicator of a saturated trail.
As trails soak up rain they become softer and softer (no crap right?) as less rain can be absorbed beneath the surface or tread of the trail. This saturation typically leads to short term closures and damage in low areas that may hold water, these areas can grow significantly in size during poor weather use. In the summer a trail is typically robust to a good amount of rain and is dry in 6-12 hours. Due to higher water tables and ground saturation this symptom can take 24-72 hours to resolve itself for the same amount of rain in the winter.
Now, that isn't even the biggest concern this time of year, no the biggest concern is Freeze/Thaw. F/T is the boogie man for every trail builder. This phenomena can lead to several miles of trail that are completely saturated, but only on the surface. When trails are used during this time long linear ruts can form that dry and remain in place. Long term these ruts can take years to naturally eliminate themselves, all the while holding water and creating the short term issues mentioned above.
Anyway, with all of this being said, I believe the leadership of SORBA is doing the best job they can. Currently only one area trail is closed, and when it opens it will be buff and new to each of us again. At times others trails will close, but likely only for a day or two at most.
Unlike ESNP most other trails in our area are frequented by novice or better riders, these riders are often more aware of conditions which results in fewer users when conditions are less than ideal. Combine this with the lower impact per mile and hopefully it makes sense why not all trails are treated equally and why they each face closures at different times based on actual conditions.
So, what can you do to keep trails open more? Easy, just get involved. I've only met awesome people who want to hang with other riders when doing things with SORBA. Please come out to a work day at your area trail and see how fun, and hard, it is to be one of the super rad trail volunteers of the club. Oh, and by the way, you can win some cool swag while you're at it.