Just about every trail we ride will present some mud, from that little puddle that kids invariably find to play in, to that deep, hope-someone-has-a-winch monster pit. When you encounter even a small mud hole on the trail, here’s what you need to do: Nothing. Just ride right through the middle of it. It’s perfectly normal to want to aim around the mud, but if you can resist that urge and instead ride through it, and the guy behind you does the same, we’re less likely to end up with a big mud hole to replace the little one you started with. Also, keep in mind that in many areas it’s illegal to leave a trail to avoid a little liquid dirt.
But not all mud holes are small. So how can you tell how deep the mud is and how hard it will be to reach the other side? It might seem that the easiest way to find out is to convince your buddy to go first. But even better is to send the smallest ATV through first. If it can make it, you can. And if it can’t, it’ll be the easiest to tow out using the tow rope you never leave home without.
Don’t want to send a boy to do a man’s job? Help yourself and try it the other way around. But don’t blame me when you have problems— lots of problems— trying to pull out your 600-pound monster 4x4 with your buddy’s wimpy 250cc 2-wheel drive.
When it’s your turn, carrying a little speed is just about always an advantage. Second gear (third in extreme cases) should do. As you approach the mud, stand up. This will give you the ability to respond to what is happening under the surface. You might have to move your weight to the front or rear to get better traction.
If you start to lose speed and feel a front wheel starting to spin (if you are on a 4x4), try shifting your weight from side to side while turning the handlebar back and forth. This may help you find that little bit of traction you need to reach the other side.
If you do get stuck, lifting a mud covered ATV by yourself can be a lost cause. Here is where riding with a buddy can be a real life saver. Kindly ask your buddy to pass you their winch cable or throw you a tow rope. Don’t be surprised if they get out their camera to take a picture of you covered in mud first. If you are riding alone, it’s a perfect chance to try out that new winch you received for Christmas.
One other tip: Riding mud on worn-out tires is asking for trouble.
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