Trail Etiquette for the Uninformed

top of armstrong pass tahoe

No snow up here

Today we were finally able to get to the top of Armstrong pass on our mountain bikes.  The upper trail has a bit of snow in places – and a bit of mud.  But the hike-a-bike was much less than anticipated.  We could see that the Tahoe Rim Trail is also looking clear, at least in the direction of Freel Pass.  Had I not ingested 6 pounds of dust during yesterday’s Trail Day on Armstrong Connector (yes, I know #imdoingitwrong), I’d have had more desire to explore the TRT a bit more.  But I didn’t.   So we descended from the top.

While we saw nobody, save our pal A, on the ride up, on the ride down it was a whole ‘nuther story, with many of the people (and dogs) we encountered utterly clueless about trail behavior and bike etiquette.  This despite being on bikes.  So, as a refresher for locals and visitors alike, I figured a gentle reminder about good behavior and best practices wouldn’t hurt.

  1. If you encounter a muddy patch on the trail, do not say “ooh, looks wet, I’ll just ride around it” OFF TRAIL.   If you’re so worried about mud, then why the heck are you on a mountain bike? Chicky in the pristine spandex, I’m talking to YOU.
  2. If you decide to get off your bike to walk up a feature and chat with your friends, please get your bike off the trail.  Leaving it lying on its side smack in the middle of the trail will result in either annoying a rider who encounters it while riding uphill, or risk having it flattened by a cyclist coming down the trail at speed.
  3. If you insist on bringing your dog riding with you, either ensure it’s under voice command (that you USE), or keep it leashed.   If I have to stop because your retarded mutt is sitting right in front of me on the trail (and not moving) while you yell to him feebly from your viewpoint, you run the risk of me calling you out as the dumbass that you are.
  4. If you’re riding with your dog on a wider trail/road, recognize that two-way traffic is the norm (be it bikes, motorized vehicles or pedestrians), and that Fido’s longevity is at stake when you let him run on the other side of the road, and you don’t happen to have voice control.  Or a leash.  That you probably should be using, since your dog is clearly not listening to you.
  5. If you’re riding on a wider trail/road, see number 4.  Don’t ride six-abreast.  Or if you do, PAY ATTENTION. It’s not just approaching traffic you need to consider, but those folks coming from behind you that are trying to pass.

The irony here is that while we road nearly 6 miles on road up to the start of the trail, the cars we encountered going both directions were far more courteous and clued in than the cyclists.

2 thoughts on “Trail Etiquette for the Uninformed

  1. Great post. I’m new(er) to riding off road, and I’m starting to pay closer attention to trail etiquette. Some times I wish the more experienced riders wouldn’t be so quick to run me over. I’ll pull off and let faster riders by on narrower trails, no problem.

    I’ve encountered a lot of horses on trails lately, but not so many dogs. But I can see where crowded trails make for complicated riding. That’s why I go really early in the morning. By time I’m through, the crowds are starting to grow.

  2. Thom,

    Thanks! This was partly tongue in cheek due to some clearly clueless behavior I saw that day (and continue to see). The International Mountain Bike Association has a good run down on the real rules (which do not include muttering ‘dumbass’ under your breath as I am prone to do). Link below as I’ve not figured out embedding in comments.

    Theoretically, faster riders should slow down and make an effort to let you know they are behind you. Horses are a whole different kettle of fish, esp. as some are more easily spooked than others. I’ve learned to just stop and dismount and let the horse rider let me know what he/she prefers. Sadly, they never ask me how I feel about the horse poop they leave in the middle of the trail….

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