Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Mountain biking has been around since the late 80's and it seems only recently has its popularity spiked. You can see it in the number of newer mountain bike manufacturers in the last 5-10 years as well as the advancements in technology from dropper posts, to advanced suspension setups and even ebikes (yea, sorry. Had to say it).
But. With all that wonderful technology bringing more and more NEW people into the fold of this great sport, the rules of the trail haven't changed.
I was on a recent ride in Colorado Springs, CO. Its weaves in and out of single & double track, but its mostly single. I'm advancing, uphill, towards the end of my ride and 2 riders are coming down the opposite direction. The first guy has already decided to stop, so I go by. The second guy- I'm assuming his son- 1st. Doesn't stop coming down and inches over slightly. I bang my handlebar against his and shout that he needs to stop.
So, I fell it necessary, now, to reiterate what seems to be a common situation on the trails these days. So here are the verified and researched rules/etiquette of the trail that we all need to follow and emphasize to other riders who seemingly forget.
1) Be Cool: We're all on the trail to enjoy the outdoors and there's no reason to be unfriendly. Say hi to a passing rider.
2) Yield to the Uphill Rider: As noted above, its not cool to do that, it can also be dangerous. The rule is this:
a. Uphill riders always have the right of way ALL THE TIME. If you see someone coming uphill, move over to the right side and let them pass safely.
b. If you want to pass someone going UP, you as the person looking to pass need to wait until you see a safe place the person can stop and announce that you're passing on the left or right. Do NOT hurry the person ahead of you. That's just a douche move. (racing is an exception…kind of).
3) Yield to Hikers: It doesn’t matter if you're going up or down the hill, MTB'rs are last in the pecking order of yielding.
a. Be courteous. Get a friggen bell already! There are so many different options and they're cheap. Give the hiker some warning that you're coming up from behind them. They'll appreciate you not being an asshole by saying "on your left" when you're 2 feet behind them.
4) Yield to Horses: Self explanatory. You freak a horse out, they may end you and your 6k bike.
5) Blind Corners: This is a tough one especially on non-directional trails. The best advice here is ride these thinking that someone is coming up, or down the opposite way. It’s the safe thing to do.
6) Stay on the Trail: The trail is called a trail because people built it for a singular purpose. To keep your bike OFF of the important shit around you. Whether its newly developing desert (cryptobiotic) that takes 10 years to be viable or routing you around additional erosion, don’t be that guy/gal.
7) Animals: This is their domain and you're kind of trespassing. Just leave them alone, especially the ones with teeth, claws and youngsters in tow.
a. Bears: although rare, you'll most likely see them directly ON the trail. If you haven't spooked it, its probably because you haven't yet. IF you see it first, stop and go the other way…slowly…then REALLY Fast! They can run up to 30 mph and are in 4x4 all the time- keep that in mind.
b. Cats: Not the fluffy kind. These are the one's that will stalk you. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/eastside/1-dead-1-injured-in-cougar-attack-on-eastside/. This is a rare occurrence, and frankly, you may not know they're around but be vigilant.
8) Leave no Trace: Mommy and Daddy aren't here to pick up after you. Do your best to keep your trash in your pocket when you're chowing down on that scrumptious CliffBar.