How to tackle muddy conditions on your bike

Posted by Jacques Marais on 22 August 2011

You may not be able to control the elements, but you can gear up to counter Mother Nature’s wetter nasty moods.

Beat the chill

If it’s cold as well as wet, it’s time to haul out the Eskimo gear. Thermal tights, Sealskin gloves, full-face balaclavas, waterproof trousers and neoprene shoe covers? Check. We’re ready to ride!

Anti-freeze

Shell up in the First Ascent Alumina waterproof jacket to make sure you survive inclement weather. This lightweight, 100-per-cent waterproof garment, made from breathable Vapour-Tex fabric, also boasts reflective detail to make you more visible in low-light riding conditions. R799

Dry time

The Pacific Outdoors Reykjavik 17.5l backpack is as bombproof a bag as you can get. Welded zippers, waterproof fabric and solid construction ensure your stuff will stay dry out on the trail. R861

Let there be light

The EOS Bike Light with self-contained battery combines a Maxbright Rebel LED and Princeton Tecdesigned collimator to maximise beam length and localised lighting – and it’s affordable. R514

Two cranks to get dirty on “¦

There’s no excuse to huddle indoors; get out there, whether you’re planning a multi-day ride or an out-and-back quickie.

Day ride

Howick may not rate as the coldest spot in South Africa, but it can get pretty muddy out on the trails after a thunderstorm or two. The local MTB Club has been at the forefront of building trails and arranging land access with key partners such as paper producer Sappi.

Loop options from 17-70 kilometres wait for you to lay fresh tracks – all you need to do is sign an indemnity and buy a permit at www.howickmountainbiking.co.za

Week ride

Feel the need to escape to the “˜wild side’? Well, head on a six-day ride along the Wild Coast, starting at Kei Mouth, with Active Escapes. They organise and provide everything except your bike and clothes; all you need to do is arrive and ride between 24 and 47 kilometres a day. www.active-escapes.co.za

Wet ride vs dry cruise

Wet ride

  • Mud in your eyes.
  • Trails may be closed to avoid environmental damage.
  • Muddy suffer-fest out there.
  • Avoid mud splatter with front and rear mudguards.
  • Pack a serious waterproof shell.

Dry cruise

  • Dust and grit everywhere.
  • Heat and sun may cause a different type of damage.
  • Snakes are out in full force.
  • No need for plastic bling on your bike.
  • Pack serious UV protection.

Graham Bird says “¦

Team Merrell athletes Graham Bird and Tatum Prins took part in the recent 2 300-kilometre Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa. After nearly three weeks cycling on some of the country’s most remote back roads, they share these tips for staying warm and dry.

“˜We expected to go through extreme physical and mental exertion and battle the harshest of winter conditions, especially in the Cape mountains. Extreme apparel from First Ascent saw us through, and keeping our hands and feet dry was cardinal.’

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