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Old 04-23-12, 09:23 AM   #1
freighttraininguphill
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'Beat the heat' ride in the mountains with iffy equestrian encounter (pics & video)

The temps at the lower elevations yesterday were in the upper 80s to 90, so I decided to go a bit higher for my weekly climbing. I picked a trail I've never been on before, Fleming Meadows. This is at the bottom of Mormon Emigrant Trail, which is actually a road, not a trail.

I rode this trail in a counterclockwise direction, which gives you a nice climb for about two miles. It gets steeper at the start of the singletrack.

I caught up to three equestrians at the beginning of a singletrack descent, so I hung back a little and followed at what I thought was a proper safe distance. When they stopped in the middle of the trail, I stopped. That's when the last rider noticed me and said "Oh my God you're right behind us". Then she said "You're lucky our horses are okay with bikes".

Now maybe I'm wrong, but to me her tone of voice made it sound like she was peeved that I was there, and that she thought I was too close to the horses.

They pulled over a short time later and I thanked them as I passed. This is the first time I have had any kind of questionable encounter with equestrians. I don't know anything about horses other than to yield to them and try to stay out of their way, so if I did something wrong on yesterday's ride I really didn't mean to.

When I finished the loop I rode the initial 1.5 mile climb up Mormon Emigrant Trail, which levels off and turns into a descent. As I climbed I kept hearing gunshots, so when I reached the top I got out my point-and-shoot and took a little video. I wish I had my new Zoom Q3 with me yesterday, as it records in stereo and the echo of the gunshots richocheted off the mountainsides for several seconds after the shots were fired. It would have sounded even better in stereo.

Fleming Meadows by freighttraininguphill at Garmin Connect - Details

Here's the ride video. You can see and hear my encounter with the equestrians and judge for yourself starting at 5:57. As with all my videos, this one is 100% natural sound. That means plenty of female cyclist suffer sounds on the climbs, so be forewarned!

Fleming Meadows MTB ride 4-22-12 - YouTube

Here's the video of the gunshots, with plenty of bird sounds mixed in.

http://vimeo.com/40865645

Here's a screenshot from the video as I came to a stop behind the equestrians.


View of the snow-capped Sierras from the bottom of Mormon Emigrant Trail at Jenkinson Lake.


"YOUR GPS IS WRONG!!!" warning sign near the bottom of Mormon Emigrant Trail (screenshot from helmet-mounted ContourHD). This road is not plowed in the winter.


Trailhead at the gravel area I parked in. The picture doesn't show just how steep this trail is. I'll have to check it out someday.

Last edited by freighttraininguphill; 04-24-12 at 06:42 AM. Reason: fix embedding that disappeared after latest BF upgrade
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Old 04-23-12, 09:59 AM   #2
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Now maybe I'm wrong, but to me her tone of voice made it sound like she was peeved that I was there, and that she thought I was too close to the horses.
I'm no horse expert but I do give them a wide berth. Last year I was riding on a rail trail and came across a group of equestrians and one of them was down with a spinal injury. I didn't see it actually happen but the horse was apparently spooked by a family on bikes and the rider lost her balance and landed on her head. It took some time for the police to evac her because a downed tree was blocking the trail and there were too many trees to land a helicopter. So in your case it may be a combination of some horses being afraid of bikes combined with being in the middle of nowhere if something happens that provoked the tone you got.
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Old 04-23-12, 10:12 AM   #3
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From now on I'm going to stay even further back when I'm stuck behind horses on trails. I always try to stay out of their way and I wait for the riders to let me know it's okay to pass, as you can see in the video.

Christopher Reeves was paralyzed from the neck down in a horseback riding accident, and I think I remember hearing of other spinal injuries suffered by riders thrown from horses.
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Old 04-23-12, 10:38 AM   #4
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We don't mountain bike, but we do trail ride our horses. They heard you coming long, long before you got close, but horses can be a bit sensitive to something in their blind spot. I'd hang back 50+ feet and just wait for the riders to find a place to pull over (on a narrow trail). Sometimes a young horse will get a bit skittish and this will transfer to the rider so you've got to read the room as it were.

Bikes don't bother our horses at all, but once we encountered a pink, all-terrain sort of baby carriage on a trail and the horses didn't care for that at all. Go figure.
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Old 04-23-12, 11:15 AM   #5
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I don't think you were too close. If you were any further back, they would have no idea you were there and not like you flew up on them.

I do use a bell on my mtb though. I ringy dingy from far back while approaching others since I can se most from above in the switchbacks, then again when I am 20 yards back.

Dude sounded cool with it. The gal just sounded like a valley girl on a horse, OH ma goood!

--------------

On the other hand, I have had horse riders on the bike trail (paved) as me to slow down while approaching so that we don't spook the horse which could be dangerous. I have no problem with that but on the other side of the coin, they let their horses drop dung all over the trail. Some short sections can be like an obstacle course for cyclists. I think the safety awareness ought to be mututal. Even the dog walkers pic up their own poop or at least move it to the side.
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Old 04-23-12, 11:58 AM   #6
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Some dipstick w/ an over valued sense of entitlement gave you crap for riding too close to her horse? Maybe she should put blinders on the horse so he won't spook easily. Cyclists, walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, cabs, cars, etc., routinely ride even closer to horses than that in NYC and they don't get spooked. The only reason to stay far back from a horse is to stay out of their splatter zone. When you pass, be decisive, give warning and space. If she still gives you a hard time, challenge her to a joust.

As always, I listened to the audio while playing words w/ friends while my imagination wandered.
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Old 04-23-12, 12:17 PM   #7
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Here's an interesting take that sheds some insight on the horse's potential point of view.
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Old 04-23-12, 12:47 PM   #8
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I think in the future I will just say something when I get a little further back than I was in the video so there's no chance of anyone worrying about me spooking their horse, or find a bell that won't ringy-dingy on its own when riding on rough trails. Many bells have the dinger so close to the bell that it rings just from riding over bumps. I don't want to sound like a cat with a bell collar running around!
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Old 04-23-12, 01:41 PM   #9
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Many bells have the dinger so close to the bell that it rings just from riding over bumps. I don't want to sound like a cat with a bell collar running around!
Not sure what else you have to contend with on the trails in California but this sounds like a good way to avoid bears here in NJ
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Old 04-23-12, 01:50 PM   #10
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I was riding on a gravel road and had a group on horses coming the other way. I remembered reading that horses could be easily spooked by bicycles, so I pulled over and waited. One of the stupid horses still freaked out. The rider wasn't thrown, and the people acknowledged that I did the right thing by pulling over.

Here in Louisville they have horse-drawn carriages running around downtown at night. Those horses don't mind cars, trucks, bikes, or much of anything.
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Old 04-23-12, 06:59 PM   #11
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I am way outside on this one. I was running a few months back, running down a public road. I live in nevada where tons of folks want to dress up and play cowboy/cowgirl. There were a group of cowboys doing something on their horses in a pen on their property. They actually asked me to run on the other side of the road so I wouldn't spook them.

My personal opinion is if you or the combination of you and your horse can't handle a human going by without fear of impending doom, you need to stay home.
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Old 04-23-12, 09:00 PM   #12
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My personal opinion is if you or the combination of you and your horse can't handle a human going by without fear of impending doom, you need to stay home.
Might not be that easy. Around here on the MTB and road trails, they have signs of yielding order. First yeild to a horse, then peds, then bikes. Must be something to it other than just HTFU. I'm betting if I didn't yield someone got hurt, I'm betting my arse would be getting seriously sued.
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Old 04-23-12, 10:10 PM   #13
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Sounds like the rules for defensive driving apply. You almost have to assume the worst when dealing with animals and hikers on the trail. Be overly cautious. Better to have a slow ride than have someone get hurt. Its always good to be able to ride another day. You have the right attitude.
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Old 04-24-12, 06:33 PM   #14
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I usually say hello or something when I'm 50 or 60 feet back to let everyone know I'm there when I see horses on the trail, then proceed(or not) carefully as the riders direct me. You certainly didn't look too close to me, and as someone else said, I'm betting they heard you before you saw them anyway.

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Old 04-24-12, 08:03 PM   #15
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I am way outside on this one. I was running a few months back, running down a public road. I live in nevada where tons of folks want to dress up and play cowboy/cowgirl. There were a group of cowboys doing something on their horses in a pen on their property. They actually asked me to run on the other side of the road so I wouldn't spook them.

My personal opinion is if you or the combination of you and your horse can't handle a human going by without fear of impending doom, you need to stay home.
As a general rule it wouldn't be too wise to have a round pen close to a road. Traffic and pedestrians are just something the horse needs to learn to put up with. If they were concerned about your running by all they had to do was stand the horse in the pen for 20 seconds.

Narrow trails are another matter and the yield priority is as much for the safety of hikers and bikers as it is for those on horseback. We almost always just wave cyclists and hikers by and if the trail is narrow, but with a "shoulder", will stand our horses off the trail until the traffic passes.

If you don't care for co-mingling with other trail users there are plenty of trails, your locale depending, for hikers and bikers only. If your dealing with mixed traffic I would advise against coming up fast behind a horse for your own safety.
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Old 04-25-12, 04:53 PM   #16
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Had to reinstall Windows on a friend's computer that I use to edit video at his house, since his fresh install of Windows on a replacement hard drive must not have been a clean install. Editing video on that machine was next to impossible, due to frame-by-frame stuttering in Windows Live Movie Maker 2011.

I figured I would use that machine to make a nice test video after I finished everything and did the usual performance tweaks, so here's the climb and descent on the paved Mormon Emigrant Trail, which was the last part of my ride.

You can hear the gunshots I mentioned in my OP near the top of the climb, starting at 3:17 (caution heavy breathing!).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EOmQ0eu6-E
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Old 04-25-12, 06:19 PM   #17
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Where did you mount the camera? Seems too low for helmet mount - but I can't figure it out.
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Old 04-25-12, 06:24 PM   #18
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I had two cameras recording. The GoPro was on the chest strap mount, and the ContourHD was on the helmet mount. I used the chest mount footage for the entire mtb ride and the climb up Mormon Emigrant Trail. For the descent down that road, I used the helmet mount footage. When I got into a tuck on the descent, the camera angle on the chest mount was too low for useful footage.
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Old 04-25-12, 08:24 PM   #19
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they let their horses drop dung all over the trail. Some short sections can be like an obstacle course for cyclists.
Horses are like big, rich entitled dogs whose owners can't be bothered to pick up after them. It's gross. They should be forced to ride with big pooper scoopers.
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Old 04-25-12, 09:19 PM   #20
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When I rode the SFART () a couple months ago, there was an excessive amount of horseshyt. I felt like I was playing a video game, having to dodge all that. Gross!

I have a thread about that ride with pictures and a video. I think I managed to edit out all the crap, literally!
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Old 04-26-12, 10:10 PM   #21
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So here is some advice. I am giving this because we own horses and I am a cyclist. Next time give them a verbal warning that you are behind them. Even bomb proof horses can get freaked out at something they haven't encountered; and even if they are familiar with a bike, it still doesn't mean that they won't freak out. You are probably not in danger but the rider is. The horse rider can easily be killed if the horse throws them off.
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Old 04-27-12, 09:59 AM   #22
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When I rode the SFART () a couple months ago, there was an excessive amount of horseshyt. I felt like I was playing a video game, having to dodge all that. Gross!

I have a thread about that ride with pictures and a video. I think I managed to edit out all the crap, literally!
By way of clarification, horse manure is incredibly biodegradable; might even be good for the rubber on your tires. Cattle are much more of a problem manure-wise.
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