Woodland Trails

Taking your Swifty along woodland trails can be a delight, the rustle of the leaves in the wind, wild flowers here and there, wolves calling in the distance, goblins peering from the bushes and unseen creatures scampering in the undergrowth. What could be better?

How easy it is to scoot along woodland trails or paths is really down to how good the trail surface is. Some trails are great, well-compacted and relatively smooth. Others, usually unofficial paths or even game trails, are often rough, pot-holed, have hidden tree roots and muddy areas when wet. All are rideable with care.

Having only bought my Swifty Air in the late autumn, I’m not in the best time of the year for off-road riding on woodland trails but following some recent night-time excursions, I’ve a few observations I want to share. The first is that kick scooting through heavy clay mud is interesting to say the least, difficult in some instances and near impossible in others. On footpaths were the mud rests on a slight sideways slope, the wheels of the scooter tend to slip sideways underneath you and that can be great fun, if caught unaware. Perhaps a set of knobbly tyres might help in this situation.

Tree roots are another issue on woodland trails. Some people just ride over them but I prefer to stop and step over them, much more comfortable that way and less strain on the scooter. Best advice I can give here is never hit them at an angle, you are likely to fall off. Always tackle them straight on.

When riding woodland trails an important consideration is the matter of tyre pressure. As with cycling optimum tyre pressures can help immensely when scooting. My preference on-road is to run the tyre pressures about 90 psi rather than the maximum 100 or 110 psi stated on the tyre. This will soften the ride, increase grip and generally make life so much better. It will increase rolling resistance slightly and kicking will take more effort but I feel the compromise is worth it. My Schwalbe Big Apple tyres, which I use off-road, are kept around 50 to 60 psi.

When riding woodland trails in the wetter months of the year, the scooter rider also has to contend with the matter of woodland debris, namely leaves and twigs, both of which tend to get picked up by the tyres and deposited on the scooter frame, around the brakes and on the rider as well. Now, mudguards are an obvious solution but I’ve tried that and they are more bother than they are benefit, tending to clog up quickly. I’m happy just to get muddy and to clean the scooter and change my clothing when I get home.

Another point I want to make is that you always have the option of improving the trail you are riding. My personal policy is always to stop and clear any trail I’m riding, removing fallen branches, filling small pot holes and even digging drainage channels at flooded areas. Not only does this help you ride the trail but also helps others as well. I often carry a small folding saw to clear some of the larger windfall branches and small trees as well as trimming over-hanging branches. I’ll be looking at Trail Maintenance in a separate article. If you have a regular local scooting route, it pays dividends to walk the route regularly and carry out trail maintenance.

Finally, a quick mention about some of the nasty vegetation you can encounter when scooting off-road. Stinging nettles need little introduction and thistles are well, prickly.  Keep an eye out for scrubs such as holly, hawthorn and blackthorn which have some nasty spines and can also cause punctures. By far the worst vegi-devil you can come across are brambles. Many a time I’ve caught some across a bare shin and have the scars to prove it.

Copyright ©2020 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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