Stuck in the mud

I’m confident that now I have reached a certain age of supposed maturity the idea of being “a stuck in the mud” might seem appropriate. Tonight, however, in my “training” for the Ford Fiesta Winter Event it became literally true.

Someone had recommended that rather than using winter cycling boots that clip to the bike pedal it would be more sensible to wear walking boots due to increased waterproofness, warmth and ease of walking the bits that are impossible to ride.

So I put flat pedals on my Bike for Life and my lightweight hiking boots and set out.

Here is the route

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:19:58 01:07:50 11.92 10.54 20.13 374.02
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

The problem was at about 3.8 miles, soon after leaving the junction of Ridgemere Lane and Syston Rd onto the bridleway into the wood. I found myself getting slower and slower with my back wheel spinning. When I stopped I found I couldn’t even push my bike because the front wheel was locked by a huge clump of mud just behind the front fork. In the end over just a few hundred yards I had to unblock both my front and rear wheels several times each by knocking these huge clumps of mud off.

For the most part the mud wasn’t that sloppy so it just stuck to the tyres and got carried round on them until it couldn’t fit through the seat stay or front fork.

At least I now have a little test track for any bike people claim will ride through mud better than mine 🙂 I wonder what sorts of bikes I would have been able to ride through it.

I do wonder if a slightly wider tyre would have helped sink in less and carry less mud around (eg a Schwalbe Smart Sam 47-622 which would fit my frame) or would the smaller gaps around the tyre have clogged even quicker.

Is this an argument for a 29+? That is a newish standard which is essentially a 29er mountain bike with space for 3″ tyres rather than the usual maximum of about 2.4″. In other words it would be the same size wheel as I have now but the wheel rim would be up to 50mm (ie about twice as wide) and instead of a 40mm diameter tyre it would be 75mm.

I guess a fat bike could get through mud like that with it’s even wider floatation tyres (26″ wheels with up to 5.8″ tyres), but that would have been much less fun on the rest of the 12 mile ride. Maybe a 29+ would be nearly as nice on the road bits while being able to cope with the deep clingy mud.

Or maybe I’d have to walk it and in places have to carry my bike again whatever I was riding? In which case I’m best off with what I have.

One thing is sure, I was glad I didn’t have a chain and dérailleur to clean and oil when I got home!

Some bad photos of the dirty bike after the ride (yes I have cleaned it now):

First is not the bike but the boots I was wearing:







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