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On Sunday I wanted to use my free day and I planned to do a half-day ride with my mountain bike. The weather wasn't really good, but at least it wasn't raining as the days before.

I rode up a mountain for approximately 2 hours and then after a short break I wanted to ride down the other side of this mountain. I'd chosen a small path that was very muddy. Actually, it was so muddy, that my front wheel got stuck into the mud and I flew over my bike. Fortunately it wasn't too steep there and I hadn't been riding too fast (~30 km/h) so that I didn't hurt myself expect for some minor scratches on my arms and a not so deep cut in my forehead.

I finished the rest of my ride very carefully, but while I was riding, I was thinking a lot about how I could have avoided that accident. Obviously it would have been a good idea to avoid the situation in the first place, but once when you're on such a path what is a good tactic?

Should I ride as fast as possible so that my wheels can't get stuck? Or should I ride slowly? Which brakes should I use to brake?

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What width tyres are you running? –  cmannett85 Dec 13 '11 at 10:34
    
I don't know the exact number, but it's kinda width. Normal bike tyres immo. –  RoflcoptrException Dec 13 '11 at 11:00
    
It makes a big difference to how your bike handles in the mud (unsurprisingly!), a wider tyre will allow you 'float' over the top. Many people run thinner tyres in mud because they cut into it giving more grip, but I often find that it cripples the speed of your bike. So I run tyres as wide as my summer ones but with tall, skinny, widely-spaced knobbles; then you get the grip without any sinking. –  cmannett85 Dec 13 '11 at 11:19
    
Ok i see, when I'm back home i'll take a picture ;) –  RoflcoptrException Dec 13 '11 at 12:52
    
I took a look and if I interpreted the numbers correctly it is 26"x2.2" –  RoflcoptrException Dec 13 '11 at 17:20
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2 Answers

Treating the mud pit like a drop could be helpful. Obviously if you can bunny hop most or all of it, it's a non issue. If you drop in a slight wheelie or with both wheels simultaneously than both wheels will be acted on by the mud. Which means both wheels will have a better chance of stopping you and sinking rather than just the front. I would personally recommend against slow speeds and de-weighting the front wheel as this will almost definitely result in a front wheel skid and a fall in anything sloppy.

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My tactic would be slower not faster and basically minimise the weight over the front wheel as much as possible by moving my backside as far back as possible. With higher speed and weight at the front I'd say you're more likely to dig the front wheel in.

Again I'd use the back brake, you need the front for steering as much as possible and you may loose that with braking on the front, also with the weight at the back the rear will be better for braking.

Forgot to add, try braking as much as possible before the muddy bit, and as little as possible whilst going through the mud. Braking will load up the front wheel and hence more likely to dig in.

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Agreed with the back brakes. Front brakes should be used in all situations except when there's risk of locking the front wheel (e.g., gravel, mud, or wheel off the ground). –  Stephen Touset Dec 13 '11 at 14:12
    
@StephenTouset - one of my big accidents was braking front and rear when the front wheel ran over a leaf, it was autumn (fall). That was it just one leaf but it slid out and I lost the front wheel instantly and landed heavily, wearing a ruck-sac so twisted my back as well! I use panniers now and never again will I wear a rucksac on a bike but that's another story. –  Adrian Dec 13 '11 at 14:29
    
+1 For light braking. I have been in downhill trails with partners having the very same tires as mine. I rode confidently using only light pressure on my brakes, this way I had a lot less mud in my tire compared to my partner's. I was naturally riding a little faster. I was constantly looking for firm ground, grass or rocks that I could use to slow down. End result: I got down the mountain in less than half the time of my partner, but also got a lot of mud splattered all over me! (Part of the fun though) –  Jahaziel Dec 15 '11 at 14:32
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