As much we mountain bikers thrive on being outdoors, we need to understand that we are not the only ones out there. We are typically joined by other bikers, trail runners, equestrians, and hikers. We also need to be mindful of when and where it is appropriate to ride. There are unwritten rules that apply out there that are based on common sense. Let’s discuss a few of these:
Just like driving a car, people on foot have the right of way. If I’m coming up on some hikers, I like to shout out a friendly warning that I’m right behind so I don’t startle anyone. Slow down so accidents don’t occur. A lot of people enjoy listening to music and have earphones on, so you have to make sure you are being heard.
If you come across someone on a horse, please stop and let them go through. A horse can easily be scared if you startle it or come at it at full speed. This is not good for the person riding the horse, or you! Most equestrians are cool and will let you pass.
Downhill or Uphill/Right-of-Way
The general rule is that the person climbing the trail (especially narrow single-track), has the right of way. I know we enjoy bombing down the trails, but we need to understand that people may be working their way up.
Riding After It Rains
For the most part, you want to avoid riding the trails for at least 3 days after a good rain. There are some trails that are made of decomposed granite and dry within hours, but they are the exception if you must ride. The San Juan trails are perfect examples of trails that are great to ride after it rains. Overall though, avoiding the trails is a good practice if we are to be good stewards of our land! After it rains, our bikes can leave tracks in the mud, that eventually become ruts. This is a constant battle with our city maintenance trail crews, as they do their best to keep the trails in good condition. Some parks such as Laguna Canyon Wilderness actually close the gates for several days after it rains to preserve its trails. And when it rains, it is muddy out there! I’ve personally have had to turn back because my tires were so caked with mud and had no traction. It is disappointing, but a lesson that I had to learn the hard way!
This goes without say. It still surprises me to see trash out on our trails though, so not everyone cares about the environment as much as they should. Please don’t add to the problem. If you are able to pick up trash when encountering it, even better. There are several groups out there that organize events to work on and clean up our trails, so that also presents an opportunity to do something positive for our earth.
Some of our favorite places to ride have trails that meander through neighborhoods and cruise alongside homes. Please be respectful and give our neighbors the courtesy they deserve by keeping noise down as you ride through. Practice the Golden Rule, and you will be fine.