I hate mud

It is just the time of year and though I love riding in the forest. When it has rained, which it does in winter, everything gets muddy. I don’t mind riding through pools of water, where the bottom is more or less hard. By standing up a little when riding through pits and pools, you won’t UPD, but mud is different. It slows you down and as soon as the wheel slides sideways I’m done for.

Anyone has tips for riding through mud? Maybe build up speed first, so when you UPD, you are certain to go flying :slight_smile:

If you’re on local trails, and not something you created yourself, you should never ride in the mud. If it’s muddy, you’ll create ruts which causes puddling and ruins the trails. Keep in mind people pour thousands of hours (usually donated or sponsored) into building these trails.

Here is two articles of many.

Note that a unicycle can potentially damage a trail even more because you have a smaller contact patch.

Try to find your local trail’s facebook/twitter/website/whatever for updates on trail conditions, and ride through puddles rather than going around them (it widens singletrack, which is hard to recover)

Give the trail time to dry out and get solid again, then you can continue to enjoy it for years to come instead of turning it into one big rut. It sucks, but winter for some, and fall and spring where I live are bad times for freeze-thaw cycles. You just have to be opportunistic when the trails are in good shape.

These are not trails that I ride, they are dirt roads in the forest that huge tractors ride over with trailers filled with wood. They make the roads turn into a mudfest. Nevertheless most part of those roads are good enough to ride on with uni, but some parts are dreadful.
So I’m not looking for a scolding to not ride on muddy trails, coz it ruins them. I am asking how to tackle mud.

Definitely wasn’t trying to scold, and I hoped it wouldn’t come across that way. I generally ride singletrack and have to keep in mind not to ride the muddy trails. If you’re on muddy backroads that tractors frequently roam, that’s entirely different. It’s more of an obligatory reminder whenever someone brings up mud and riding.

We actually have a couple of ATV trails near here that I practiced on when I was new to Muni that have the same problem. . . Well, not really to the ATV guys, they love the mud. : P

Mud acts much like sand, but it’s a little more slick. I would say technique depends on how long and deep the section of mud is. If it’s short, you can usually gain speed before, and let that carry you through the mud, but keeping the unicycle straight and true is key to not sliding off to the side. Tighten up your core and focus on spinning as circular as possible to avoid fish-tailing. Deeper/longer mud sections are difficult to deal with. You can always stand on the pedals and take one forceful pedal at a time, if you come to a complete stop, you can hop through the rest of it if it’s not too deep. Super-deep stuff and you can come to a complete stop and just be sitting still on the uni. : )

Tires and tire pressure can make a difference. The Surly Knard for instance is a fantastic tire until it hits muddy/wet terrain, then it’s slippy. Tires like the Nate shed off mud better and have large knobs to grab whatever ground is under there. Lower tire pressure I’ve found is better for sand, but haven’t played with different pressures in the mud. I generally run a lower pressure when I can’t see the terrain very well (leaves, mud, dark, etc) just because it absorbs unknown hazards, but I would think a lower pressure would be more prone to slide on the mud due to the larger contact patch.

Different muds are different. : ) There’s tacky mud, slimey mud, gloopy, gritty, smooth. Your body will naturally learn how to deal with them as you ride more through it, just like dealing with camber, or a different tire or wheel size.

also obligatory when speaking about mud:

On the trails near where I live, the park authority shuts down the trails to riders for up to 72 hours after a rain. I am wondering when the extent of the el niño conditions is going to hit southern California. I’m going to be avoiding the mud and practicing street skills this winter. I think unicyclists rely too much on traction, and when that is lost, it’s all over. Enjoy getting muddy!

This is true, but don’t let the bikers know. Always remind them, if they’re chewing up your local trails, that everything your wheel does, they do twice! :sunglasses:

And a little reminder about taking care of your trails is always welcome. There are always new people here, as well as experienced riders that may not know about good trail care. Sometimes it’s best to stay off the trails when they’re really wet, or during a lot of the winter if you live in dry areas like California. The soil here is dry most of the time, so when it gets wet it’s a lot more pliable, and erosion gets greatly accelerated during this time of year.

How to ride through it would be a decent topic for a thread, but yes, it’s so variable that advice probably has to be specific to the situation and type of mud in there. When riding slow, if your wheel slips to the side it can be hard to correct for, especially if you have no traction. But if you’re crusing along, you can usually make a small adjustment to your line of travel and just keep going. I used to have fun riding on snow and ice, trying to keep upright as long as possible on the slippery and/or irregular surfaces.

On my local trails, since they are so fragile when wet, I try to stay away right after rains, and NEVER make puddles bigger by going around the edges. The best thing to do, if you do have to pass through a muddy spot, is try to plow right through the middle. I aim for the highest spots in the mud, to try to help “even it out” rather than making deeper ruts.

That looks like a great trip. I sure wouldn’t survive that. The surroundings there are so much better than boring Denmark. No dirt road is longer than 5km here. The muddy sections they plowed through I will stay away from.

Today I rode with the KH26, coz I felt like it. Normally I ride a Nimbus 29. I do think it is easier to ride the 29". Maybe I should just ride the same trip with the 29er tomorrow and see how that goes. In DK x-mas starts already tomorrow, so most peeps will just be at home with family and not bother me when fighting against mud :slight_smile:

strangely enough the woods where I ride near Paris seem to have a “self healing” soil (a mix of sand and silt). After rain big puddles appear (and lot of MTBs make things worse) … then they naturally disappear (no more big holes there after a few days).
The only problem are MTB creating new trails around the big puddles (and riding where they shouldn’t in the woods crushing grass and small bushes :angry: )

In the UK we do have a lot of mud…

I have a feeling we have a different attitude about mud and trails in the UK. We ride the trails summer and winter. They develop as the year goes on from dry to wet and back again. There is damaged caused at times, but the majority of the time this is caused by horses or motor bikes. The mountain bikes definitely cause more damage than the unicycles do as they slid and slip around over using their power and brakes; where as we tip toe through the trails. The trails that are over used do get damaged and responsible riders avoid these.

Mud is different everywhere though. Even local to here, the North Yorkshire moor mud is very peaty and clears quickly, the Yorkshire dales has clingier mud. The low level marsh mud is soooo slippy.

Riding in mud certainly improves your riding.


To get back to the original question. Techniques for mud.

Always have the correct tyres for your type of mud. In some areas it is best to have an aggressive thin thread to seat on the bottom of the mud, other places it is best to distribute the load over the mud the Nokian Gaz was the king at this in my opinion.

New sharp tyres are always better in mud, if your tyre has been ridden on roads much, it smoothes off the sharp edges and degrades performance.

Tyre pressures: This again depends on the mud you are riding in. If you are trying to cut through it then put the pressure up. If you are floating then lower, I some times go down to 10psi in bad conditions here.

Techniques: Steady pedalling technique, push constantly on the pedals and keep something in reserve for riding through tough bits, but don’t over do it.

Roots: Wet slimy mud combined with leaves and tree roots is one of the hardest conditions as it combines both the requirement to float, control and power out of problems. For this I have found generally lower tyre pressures and a good speed helps.

Clothing… wear light over layer over your normal clothes so you can just strip them off at your car on leaving and going home.

Hope this helps.


Thanks Roger, I will keep that in mind. As for clothing I found out, that as little as possible is better. Even on a cold day, unicycling requires a lot of energy and just a T-shirt and training jacket are sometimes too much.

At my BayLand Trails its constantly being maintained with gravel lay, with thousands of bicyclists and joggers making use of the trails. Im always staying on the designated trails. I love mud and puddle riding. Whenever given the chance, you bet I’ll be there, during and after rain.:wink: