An ode to Roxy Ann mud

    Most days when I want to take a quick ride, I feel that hefting my bike onto the back of my car and driving out to a trail destination kind of defeats the purpose.

    From downtown Medford, I usually choose to scale Roxy Ann Peak because it's a good climb (just over 2,000 feet) and I get to go fast on the downhill. For a training ride, I'll simply ride the dirt road that circles the summit. If I want to have a bit more fun, I'll get on the trails and climb an extra few hundred feet to the top.

    The Madrone Trail ascends the mountain on the west side, and the Manzanita Trail makes the approach from the southeast. Both trails are very rocky, so lowering your tire pressure to an appropriate level will make the ride smoother. I prefer riding up the Madrone and down the Manzanita because the rocks are less infuriating on the latter, but either way will work.

    I rode up Roxy Ann on a day in April just as the skies began to darken and a storm moved in. As I passed the gate at the parking area, I saw one hiker who had also decided to brave the inclement weather.

    "You must really be addicted to be out here on a day like this," he said.

    One definition of addiction is to compulsively continue with something even when it goes against your self-interest. Soon it became clear that was what I was doing.

    The rain started to fall, and I began climbing up the trails.

    At first, everything seemed like it was going fine. Sure, the trail was a little wet, but it's nothing I hadn't seen before. A little extra rolling resistance? Big deal!

    Then, things started getting more difficult.

    "I must really be out of shape," I thought. It was only when I looked down at my front wheel that I saw I was gathering mud like a runaway snowball. Dirt clods were flying left and right, clinging to my legs and the back of my jacket.

    The mud gathered up behind my fork and frame, stopping me dead in my tracks. I had no choice but to put my foot down.

    I was wearing clips, so this is where the real fun began. When I tried to clip back in, my now-mud-covered shoes only inundated the pedals, making the situation worse.

    Once you get home, the hose had better be primed and ready, because you don't want to leave this mud on your bike. It will dry up and cake to your frame such that — as my Medford bike tech put it — it becomes part of the bike's DNA.

    There are many types of mud. There's the loamy kind that you sink into but can cut right through. There's the clay-ey kind that you skim and slide along the top of. But then there's the inexplicably tacky Roxy Ann mud.

    I'm excited for the future of Prescott Park mountain biking trails, but if it's going to be a winter destination, as many of us hope, we need to figure out what to do about this mud.

    Forrest Roth can be reached at

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