Mountain biking is a sport of shared venue. Whether we are riding alone or in a group, we are all riding bikes on trails that are built by a trail crew, maintained by a crew or club, owned by a person, town, tribe or business, and enjoyed by many other users. It is important to keep all of these things in mind when we are out there riding. Respect the land that you are on, the other users that are there, and the people that make being there possible. One of the very first things we should learn about a trail system is who is using the trails. What activities are other people using the trails we are riding on for? Many trails are multi-recreational, giving access to many types of activities. This could include: Hiking, biking, dog walking, horse back riding, skiing, snowshoeing, snow machining, etc. Since we are all using the trail differently and at different speeds, it is important to acknowledge each other and give each other space. Here are some “rules” or trail etiquette suggestions to be the best and conscientious trail user you can be.
Yield when appropriate. Some trails have right of way rules. Uphill users are asked to yield to downhill users and sometimes it is the other way around. Usually bikers are asked to yield most other users. This is usually due to the idea that cyclists are the least vulnerable user in most circumstances. Snow machines are asked to yield to all other users and to drive slowly through shared access areas. While these are common, it is not all encompassing and some trails deny access to certain activities, including biking. It is important to research a new to you trail to find out the rules for that particular trail. Often times trail access for certain activities can be contingent on users following specific rules.
Stay in control at all times. Or do your absolute best to do so. It is important for your safety and the safety of others to maintain control of your bike. This is not to say you shouldn’t try new things for fear of crashing, etc. but when attempting new maneuvers, be sure the coast is clear, communicate your plan, and then send it! Know that there may be other users down trail, perhaps only really let loose if you know that a trail is bike only and is directional(one way trail). Similarly if you need to stop on a trail, it is best practice to step out of the way to let other users pass or wait to stop where there is space for you to be off of the trail.
Practice leave no trace. There are seven principles of leave no trace. For another post or for when you feel like googling, they come with fun hand symbols and illustrations. Basically the are: don’t litter(this includes things you deem biodegradable like food scraps), don’t disturb the peace of nature, don’t cut new trails without permission, stay on designated trails, don’t have fires outside of designated fire areas, bury or carry your poop and carry out your canines poop, leash or really truly have your pets under voice command. Leash rules are a highly contested rule, but dogs and pets are nuisances to wildlife and can be a bother to other trail users and diminish their enjoyment of the trails. Plus if they poop in the trail and you don’t see it, it’s not a tree falling, the poop is still in the trail. No one wants to step in or run over dog poop. 🙁
Respect trail closures. Many, many hours go into building and maintaining the trails. When a chapter or trail network is closed, don’t ride on it. It could be closed for weather, trail work, clearing, forestry work, pest control, logging, events, hunting, etc. Whatever the reason, it is up to the land managers whether or not the trails will be open on any given day. Additionally, with time and if you ask other experienced riders, you will find there are days that you should avoid riding trails even if the land manager doesn’t post a closure. Extremely wet and rainy days tend to lead to rutted and muddy trails that dry and harden with ruts that will have to be repaired by trail crews, most of which are volunteer crews with limited resources and time for trail work. Similarly on groomed snowy fat bike trails, when the weather is warm and things are getting melty and/or if you are leaving a ruts in the groomed trail, do not ride. In any of those trail closed situations, pump up those trail tires or switch yourself to your skinny tired bike and hit the grav grav aka gravel roads. Have yourself a scenic ride where you’re sure to spot a barn, sugar shack, cow, townies, brooks, a good view, and random art installations. That’s Vermont for ya.
Go to trail work days. Tied into the rule above, it is best etiquette to spend some of your ride time helping to build or maintain trails. Even if you can only make one trail day at one location all summer long, get out there and try to participate. Most trail crews are 100% volunteer based and do amazing work to bring us such sweet sweet single track and the least we can do as riders is offer to carry some lumber, rake some trail, clear some trees or help repair a bridge a few times a season. We will post some trail work day options on our social medias and special pride ride trail work opportunities on our calendar. Join us to chip in and have a good time diggin’ some dirt!
Above all it is best to etiquette to be friendly and welcoming of each other and other users. Pride Rides is all about inclusion on the trails and we wish to exemplify that value at every ride be it with a group or on our own. Acknowledge each other and give a greeting as you pass or while stopped at a view. We are all out here to enjoy nature, the great outdoors, sweet trails, active movement, fresh air, and good company.