Dealing With Mud

It’s Spring in the Midwest, which means rain and mud. Even if you’re not mountain biking on wet trails (which should be avoided due to the trail damage it can cause), you’re liable to encounter mud on your routes due to runoff, flooding, muddy shoulders, or simply from taking a break alongside the road.

In Arkansas and southeastern Missouri, they’ve been hit particularly hard with rain and flooding this year. An article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette discusses dealing with mud:

  • “You can fall … like about 14 people who have called and told us,” Richard Machycek, owner of Arkansas Cycling & Fitness, said last week. “That stuff is slippery-er than greased moose poop.”

  • Mud interferes with stability, with braking, with shifting gears, and in the long run, it encourages rust. If you can’t brake efficiently, it would be smart to stop and clear your brakes. This river gunk doesn’t fly off by itself after your wheels hit dry pavement.

  • Survive your ride and then clean that bicycle right away, Machycek said. “You’re really best off, if you can, to get mud off while the bike is still wet. When mud is wet, it’s most easy to take off and less likely to harm your paint. There’s little rocks in it that can scratch your paint.”

  • Once mud dries, you’ll probably need to brush or scrub. “You can use an old toothbrush,” he said. Bike shops also sell brush kits with soft and hard bristles for working on different parts of the bike.

  • If your brakes squeak after you’ve cleaned them, try wiping them with sandpaper.

  • The mud must go; leaving it in place leads to rust. A chain will rust overnight. Chains aren’t instantly worthless the minute rust appears. You can oil a lightly rusted chain and get more service from it. But the chain won’t last nearly so long as a solid one would. Rust also grinds down gear teeth.

  • Frames made of steel suffer more than bikes made of noncorroding materials like aluminum or carbon fiber, but plenty of rust-proof bike frames are outfitted with attachments that will rust. Rain washes lubricant off, and lube protects the moving parts from wear and tear.

Hopefully you’re not seeing flood-born “river gunk” where you’re riding, but you’ll still need to be careful riding in the rain. Slick streets and slimy dirt can bring you down just as quickly, and cause just as much damage to your bicycle’s frame and components.

Be careful out there.

About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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