Well, it's that time of year again. When the temperature dips below freezing at night, and goes above it during the day.
Try to ride early in the morning while the ground is still frozen. Once it thaws out, the trail will be very slick, (greasy), on top from the moisture that has been forced upward during the night. As the day warms up, the trail can become soft down several inches. Which is when riders can do some serious damage, leaving ruts that stick around for a long time.
Sometimes late in the evening also works for a ride after a freeze/thaw cycle, especially if it has been a sunny, warm day.
Late morning, when most bikers are used to rolling into the trailhead parking lot, can be the WORST time to start a ride in the winter. Midday doesn't work during freeze/thaw!
Some other winter riding tips;
Try to find out beforehand if the day is going to be sunny or not before riding. Cloudy days can increase your riding time by an hour or so, even if the temp goes above freezing.
If it is going to be a sunny day, try to ride the sunny side trails early in the day while they are still frozen. South facing trails can turn soupy even at below freezing temps, once the sun hits them full-on.
Leaf cover can also make a difference. Well covered trails might not freeze at all, and if they do, they thaw out slower.
Try to be closer to the trailhead as the temps warm up. Conditions can change rapidly, and pushing a bike with two inches of peanut butter mud on the tires back four miles to the truck is pretty frustrating...... Been there, done that!
Winter riding can be a challenge, but also a rewarding experience if you plan ahead....... (And you don't feel as guilty about watching football the rest of the day.
)Don't be a Smuck, and ride trails when they're Muck.