While the allure of being covered in mud from head to toe sounds exhilarating, there is a time and a place for it. Caving or spelunking is one of those places. As you twist, turn, crawl, and pull yourself through tight openings, the inside of the cave will undoubtedly stick to you like a leech. However, if you are like me, the dirtier and wetter you are when you exit the cave, the better because you have challenged the limits of your comfort zone and explored the cave to its fullest as you trudge through the very stream that created it.
On the other hand, leaving a mountain bike trail in the same fashion is frowned upon. While it may appear fun to ride your bike through muddy terrain, the scars left behind on the trail can be devastating. Sustainable mountain bike trails take hours upon hours of hard work to construct as the trail follows the contour of the land rather than straight up the hill. With a 5% outslope, the trail is self-draining; however, after a heavy rain or when the ground is soggy, it takes time. As mountain bikers, it is our responsibility to fight the urge to ride when trail conditions are not conducive to riding. If mud is sticking to your tires instead of staying on the trail or ruts are being left behind, then it is too wet to be riding. Ride on hard surface trails that day. If trail conditions are good, you might still find a puddle or two. Ride through the middle of the puddle rather than around it, so you don’t widen the trail. Remember, the seconds you spend damaging the trail equals hours of work, often done by hand, to fix the problem. Ride responsibility; don’t ride on muddy trails.