My first rule is unless in a warm or hot weather do not get your feet/boots/waterproof socks wet unless you have too. On a long ride you will get sweaty (!??) cold feet and loose heat leading to cold freezing feet. 5°C or lower.
My other rule is do not try to ride through a stream river if wide and or difficulty seeing the bottom in inevitably leads to stall and crash. You get wet and likely a damaged bike. I say this ’cause I have see people try. And now you are very wet and in dodgy situation.
When I do have to wade a stream I look and walk the river bank as far as reasonable to find a least boulder shallow crossing. Reason being surprisingly the rocks are slippery and trying to balance get stable footing not break your ankle while stopping your bike float away is a challenge. Even more if a laden bike packing outfit. Fatbike is even worse with the drag and floats better. Can put yourself in a difficult situation quickly in knee high water. In Scotland we have monitor the weather so not reach a river in spate. One day fine another day oh crap.
I take my socks off put my shoes back on to cross. Works ok for shoes lots of holes! Hmm boots not so well obviously.
If there is a bridge use it.
On bike packing trips I now take Vibram Furishiki wrapping sole shoes and use these to cross rivers.
Also if you have to cross try to cross diagonally go up stream. Do not try to cross a river on a bend as the outside edge is likely to be narrow and to deep.
Look for rocks poking out or noisy water as this indicates it being more shallow than still moving water. Still likely knee deep.
Slow down and take shorts steps. Make sure each step is well-planted before you take the next step. Also, I often wear hiking sandals instead of my regular riding shoes in the summer when I am doing a ride with creek crossing. I only use flat pedals, so this works for me.
I detour most of the time to avoid getting wet. But if its inevitable, I plan ahead and I’m with @mongwolf in this one. I’ll remove my shoes and socks, switch to sandals and wade or pedal thru, depending how deep the water is. That’s why I like CB mallet, works for instances like these.
arkinet, I have a pair of Keen Arroyo II sandals that lock onto my flats well enough that I do entire rides in the sandals. They are great for water crossings and keep the feet much cooler throughout a hot summer ride.
It depends on the width and depth of the creek. Most comments above sound to me like guys were crossing rivers not creeks.
If creek is short and shallow enough and bottom is rocky, I’ll go full speed thru it. In summer wet feet not too bad and in colder months I wear waterproof shoes.
If creeks bottom has big rocks I’d downshift and ride it like any rock garden provided it’s not too deep and I can see that bottom. If it’s too dip, current to fast or I just don’t want to get feet wet, I’d find a fallen tree or big boulders to cross it.
When I was crossing Little Missouri River, I even took my clothes off, because it ended up being waist deep. Bike with back pack and clothes was elevated to protect drivetrain from that silty water.
I agree with stumpyfsr, if it is a creek, not running to fast or deep with fairly clear water and you feel confident enough, just go through, with maybe some descents ahead, its not to hard to dry off, unless of course the weather is cold. Just make sure that you are keeping your center of gravity back a bit so if you do hit a rock your not going head over tea kettle. keep speed up over going too slow, that is when you start sinking in the mud, or getting your tires stuck between rocks which sucks.
If I’m committing to ride through a stream, I do it with a measure of speed to keep from having to pedal through all of it and I lean waaaaaaay back. I’ve noticed I can recover from a lot of front wheel shenanigans and keep it moving, where I’d be over the bars if I’d taken a normal riding position.
Like schwim- completely unweighting the front end -even lifting the front wheel just short of a wheelie- and blasting it hard enough to throw water away from ma shoes. If stream is wide enough that I come forward on the bike, I’m not likely going to endo cuz I started so far back and low, bro. Also, another beni of wider bars for stabilization.
“that is when you start sinking in the mud, or getting your tires stuck between rocks which sucks.” yea you really have to watch out for that… of course as people have said speed will prevent you from this. If there is water in the creek I try to keep my bike as clean as possible/ reasonable so I will take the bridge. But for one of my “normal” rides theres a creek which in the summer is dry so its actually kinda fun to ride thru… of course this thread is about WITH water…