I’ve read some notes on Facebook recently about folks being questioned and even turned back from the US border because of muddy mountain bikes on their car, so I thought I’d share the conversation for others who may be heading south of the border for some epic mountain biking adventures.

Be aware that Canadian Customs is turning back cars if there is mud on their bikes. Bikes have to be clean! Agricultural reasons was the explanation.

Everyone basically agreed that it was to comply with agricultural regulations and to prevent the spread of invasive and destructive species:

This is likely to limit the spread of parasites/bacteria…and while you can make the argument if its in NY or Vermont its probably in Quebec and Ontario also, but the regulations are the regulations.

And Dutch Elm disease. To prevent forest / agriculture devastating diseases from moving to new locations – you should wash your bike before going somewhere different.

This post in the OMBA FB page prompted a helpful stream of comments from others who have had issues with the border patrol over dirty bikes:

Yup, got a lecture at the border coming home from KT two weekends ago but they let me through. Ironically it was my son’s bike that was muddy and it was likely Camp Fortune mud we were bringing back into Canada.

This is true anytime you bring a bike home. I took a road bike to England…they were concerned about mud and if I’d been near farms.

Yeah they have been doing this for a while, I got a scare one time 5+ years ago when coming home from KT, and ever since I make sure to wash down my bike if it’s been a muddy weekend.

Apparently the same is true of inter-provincial borders too:

This kind of thing can happen within Canada also. Google for stories of people getting pulled over driving into BC from Alberta and being told to pressure wash the canoe on top of their car.

And a case of the extreme opposite:

One time Canada Customs gave me grief because our bikes were too clean – they wanted to see receipts to prove I hadn’t just bought them in the USA. Like I carry those everywhere. Fortunately one bike was a Prologue from Ottawa, one an Opus with a Cyclery decal, and the other a Blue with a Euro-Sports decal.

Bottom line though, you should rinse off your mountain bike or other gear before crossing any border, whether within Canada or internationally.

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