In Search of the Brown Pow!

Brown Pow Trail

Brown Pow Trails

Downhill skiers eagerly anticipate the day when the deep white powder arrives. For mountain bikers, we are looking for the brown pow, which happens when a good rain turns dusty trails into compacted, tacky dirt. This week we finally got a nice dumping of rain, perhaps a half inch on the trails. This opened up the possibility for brown pow, and equally importantly, gave a sigh of relief to those of us who’ve had just about enough of fires and smoke.

A Few Friday's Ago

I woke up Friday morning primed to ride the brown pow. But there were still lots of puddles so I decided to put off my ride for a day to let the water soak into the dirt. Saturday morning dawned clear and with a cold snap of fall. Given that only a few days earlier I was in a shorts and T-shirt this cold stuff delayed my morning ride to the more civilized temperatures found in the afternoon.

Once I hit the trails, they were a bit too dry to be perfect brown pow, but were much less dusty than a few days earlier. The riding was fun, and was heightened by the touch of fall color now swiftly arriving to the trail system. A good number of other folks were out on the trails, happy to be riding behind their buddies and not choking down their dust. And they were equally happy to return to the trailhead without a bike covered in dust. It will take a few more good rains to really bring us prime fall pow conditions, but it’s always nice to ride after a rain.

Brown Pow & Puddle

A Few Tips when it Comes to Riding the Brown Pow:

-Getting out on the brown pow and also protecting our trails is a bit of a goldilocks situation. You need to time it just right. You want to get out there soon after the rain, but not too soon. Trails get messed up if you ride through puddles or sloppy mud. If the rain was light, you can get out there the next day, but if it’s a good soaker or gully washer, wait until the puddles disappear to avoid creating ruts in the trail.

-While an inch or two of wet sloppy snow will quickly act like rain and soak into the dirt, if there is more than a few inches, it’s time to check the Tahoe XC website for information on whether the trails have closed to bike use. Hopefully the transition from riding to skiing will be a short one this year.