noun: etiquette; plural noun: etiquettes
the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group .
What is trail etiquette, well since we have complaints from slower riders that fast riders are sitting on their back wheel screaming at them, and vice versa fast riders complaining that slow riders are blocking their mojo on the trails.
What to do, what to do, bit of a catch 22 don’t you think? Who is right and who is wrong? Well my fellow dirt addicts you are only wrong if you do not apply a little thing called logic and or common sense sometimes paired with an unknown mannerism of courtesy.
Can I put this bluntly YOU DO NOT OWN THE TRAIL! Regardless of how fast or how slow you think you are. Courtesy and trail etiquette go hand in hand. So I thought we should brake it down a bit so that everyone understands.
Always use common sense, if this does not make sense to you, you should observe how others apply the theory in practice.
Overtaking on the trails. Now this is normally done by the faster riders, unless a faster rider has come off his/her bike and is stuck in a bush from the head to the mid torso.
If there is a wide open space (and yes this applies in races too) lets say for example a jeep track or even on road, if you are about to pass someone you clearly yell “Passing on your left, or right or center” which ever direction you feel the need to zoom passed, Failure to do so will lead into scaring the bejeebers out of someone consequently ensuring both parties are spitting out mud balls.
The above scenario does not work on singletrack, and here is where things get sketchy, slower riders are concentrating with every ounce of their bravery and limited skill to stay upright they generally are not as perceptive as skilled riders wondering if they can up their cornering speed by 7kmh on this run. So this needs to be taken into account. When a faster rider approaches a slower rider do not grab a fist full of brakes tearing up the trail, just to make a noise to scare people, you need to realize by now your hopes of killing your Strava segment is ruined and there is nothing you can do about it, except maybe go for another lap. Now at this stage if you are upset swearing and scolding you should probably wake up earlier to set your Strava times if your first on the trails you won’t have this problem. Or you can remember why you started Mountain biking in the first place, to enjoy the ride get fresh air and look at the scenery.
Whilst you remember all the good reasons you started this sport, you may if you so desire in a voice loud enough for the slower riders to hear, but not so loud as they do involuntary bunny hops. Nicely ask the person for “TRACK PLEASE” Ok so newer rider this means he is faster than you, he would like to go past you without the option of going over you or pushing you out of his her way to achieve afore mentioned feat. What does this mean to you the slower rider? It means you have to ACKNOWLEDGE that you heard the call for track. This is generally done by shouting back (and you may do so as loud as you want as we assume the fast rider only bunny hops at will) SURE NO PROBLEM AS SOON AS IT IS SAFE. This will inform speedy on your hindy that he has been heard and you are happy to let them pass as long as it’s no you having to perform a world class over the handle bars manoeuvre trying to pull over. Failure to do so would lead to anger and singletrack rage (none of which is condoned) but an inevitable result from not only losing out on his/her Strava segment, but nobody likes to be ignored. And that’s when people decide to pass by going over other people. In summary
Fast rider: Shouts TRACK PLEASE
Slow rider: acknowledges AS SOON AS ITS SAFE
And by uttering those two small sentences we are guaranteed of world peace, well at least on the trails.
Riders riding a bicycle have the right of way over riders pushing bicycles for their daily walk.
Persons pushing their bikes MUST stay out of the way of riders. When practical, riders pushing, should stay on the least rideable portion of the path when being passed. So that the guy / gil on his/her bike always have the best line.
If getting off to walk an obstacle- rider MUST get off of the trail BEFORE dismounting if upcoming riders are not dismounting.
If you break a chain or have a mechanical failure, get out of the other riders way immediately. Do NOT sit in the middle of the trail spinning your crank for crying out loud!
If you fail to negotiate an obstacle or hill, get out of the other racers way immediately. Do not stop at the top of a hill or at the very end of an obstacle if it will cause the riders behind you to bottle up.
Riders are expected not to slow at the end of obstacles or at hill tops in order to cause a loss of momentum to the riders behind.”
In the event a rider crashes in front of you:
You may go around if you can do so safely and in the event it is a skilled friend you may point and laugh.
In the event a rider is injured:
You should ask if they need immediate assistance and give it if you are able. Yes even in a race, but we’re mountain bikers, not A-holes.
Do not encourage them to move (even if they are laying in the trail blocking ALL traffic) Do not restrain them if they try to move under their own power.
The 1st responder is immediately in charge of every aspect of the situation, and all other riders MUST obey, whether they are told not to go around or to help by giving assistance.