Wet Weather: To Ride or Not to Ride?

bike in the rain

In some places — like the Northwest, pictured here — many trails are rideable in the rain, if you’re intrepid enough to venture out. In general, our local trails have a higher clay content so they do not drain well and get sticky when wet. Some of our trails drain better than others, including Silverado Motorway and San Juan!

One of the perks of living in Southern California is that our climate generally allows us to ride most days of the year under sunny skies — so when bad weather does roll in, riders are often confused about if, when and where they can/should ride.

Our local land management agencies handle inclement weather closures differently. OC Parks typically closes trails after receiving measurable rainfall. They post alerts on their website, and sometimes on social media. Check before you go to see if the trails are open. The parks remain closed for up to three days after the last rainfall to allow the trails to dry out.

California State Parks, including Chino Hills and Crystal Cove, trails also close when it’s raining, and alerts can be found on each park’s website and Facebook pages. These trails also typically stay closed for a couple of days after the rain stops.

Trails on the Cleveland National Forest, including Maple Springs, The Luge, Blackstar, Harding Truck Trail and several others, do not officially close during periods of inclement weather, so it’s up to riders to make good decisions to avoid damaging the trails.

Trails managed by cities and other entities, including San Clemente Singletracks, Las Ramblas, Fullerton Loop, and other neighborhood riding areas may not close officially, so again, it’s up to riders to make good decisions.

We have much-needed rain in the forecast for five of the next seven days, so here are some guidelines for riding responsibly:

1) If it’s actively raining, it’s best not to ride most of our local trails, even if they don’t officially close, to avoid damaging our trails (and your bike’s moving parts).

2) Please obey closures. Check for alerts before you go.

3) If you’re leaving tracks, turn back. This rule applies to trails and fire roads. If your tires are caked in mud, it’s too wet to ride.

4) Ride pavement and/or bike paths instead. Mixed surface riding on our bike path network is often doable during/in between storms. Don that rain gear you have stashed away and get out for a spin on your road or gravel bike.

5) Hop on the trainer. Ride virtually with friends on Zwift, join a class if you have a Peloton bike, or binge watch something as you spin.

6) Cross train. Do a core workout, yoga or other strength-based activity. There are many free classes available online if you need some guidance and inspiration.

7) Rest. It’s ok to take a few days off the bike, and rain in Southern California is one of the best excuses to do so! Enjoy some extra sleep, stretching and other recovery. You’ll feel refreshed and ready when the trails reopen!