It’s that time of year again, night time temperatures drop below freezing and afternoon temperatures get warm and melt the frozen trails. This year Freeze Thaw has been amplified by all the precipitation last month. Indeed, December was the wettest in a century, coming within a quarter of an inch of breaking the 1911 record. Much of that moisture is still in the ground and will lead us to close the trails longer than usual.
Nothing tears up a trail tread more than riding in Freeze Thaw. In the afternoon, all the trapped moisture in the tread thaws out and turns into mud. Riding on this surface leads to rutting which then traps rain and exacerbates the problem. You must have a tread that will easily shed water if it is to remain sustainable.
The Atlanta Chapter spends hours and hours of volunteer time each year cleaning up Freeze Thaw tread damage caused by people riding in Freeze Thaw conditions at Sope Creek. Since the Trail System cannot physically “close” with a chain over a parking lot, people feel that it is always open. This is not the case. Always check the Trail Status on this website before you get in the car to go ride at Sope or at Cochran Mill Park in the City of Chattahoochee Hills. Cochran Mill will not “close” physically either, and the new trails there are particularly susceptible to Freeze Thaw damage because the construction is fresh.
We watch the trail conditions for you. We post the Status on our website, Twitter and Facebook. If you know about the Status and where to find it, spread the word to other riders. People who are new to the sport simply don’t know about trail conditions and trail status.
As always, come volunteer with us at Cochran Mill Park and Sope Creek. Workdays at Cochran Mill Park are the second Saturday of each month and Sope’s work day is the third Saturday of the month. If you can’t volunteer, then join the Chapter and donate, all our money goes back to the trails we steward. Remember, riding is not free, you have to keep paying for it after you buy all that expensive gear, either with volunteer hours or the dirty green stuff.