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  1. #1
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Trail ettiquette and Protection

    this subject has been touched on already in a few other threads:
    *One site that supports MTB bab in Mass.:: One site that supports MTB bab in Mass.
    * Do you drift( power slide)??:: Do you drift( power slide)??

    but i am curious how much the BF riders here know about trail protection...

    i learned the following for off-road dirt/rock Single Trails:
    1) ride in the existing trail and do not make the trail wider by going around obstacles or mud puddles. if it's just a little wet, you can go through the puddle and too bad if you get muddy (you're riding a mountain bike what do you expect?) and if it's simply too muddy to ride through then you shouldn't be riding that trail on that day.
    2) do NOT lock up the rear tire and skid, especially in corners or steep descents. on downhills, always use both brakes together. the skidding severely damages and rapidly destroys the trail by tearing the surface away and heavily contributiing to erosion.
    3) clear the trail of fallen trees or litter or debri that should not be there (a glass bottle, fallen tree trunk)
    4) do NOT make the trail easier by removing rocks or obstacles that are a permanent part of the trail. If you are not skilled enough to ride the section, too bad, someone else probably can and do not make the trail easier!
    5) if there are water barriers or bridges or other structures to fight erosion, do not ride around them and circumvent the facilities - ride or walk over the bridge or erosion barrier

    are most of you familiar with these "principles"?
    do you disagree with some?
    do you have others?

    Interestingly, in Europe (from my observation), single-track (true off-road) mountain biking is less popular and the "average" rider only rides on paved bike trails and fire roads and wide gravel trails and has never really experienced the beauty of riding on Single Track... but, also from my experience, the riders who do ride single track in Europe are much less conscious and concerned about trail ettiquette and protection than American mountain bikers --- maybe there are just fewer so damage is less of an issue? for example, in an advanced technical skills riding course this summer as part of my MTB Guide Training, my highly, highly skilled Austrian instructor (awesome wheelie-drops, front and rear wheel hops, hopping log-climbing, picnic tables, etc) TAUGHT us to lock the rear wheel and weight the bike and slide it around tight corners on Single Track and our group of 10 rode this one downhill singletrack zig-zag trail section about 10 times in an hour --- SOOO bad for the trail!

    up until recently when the tide of public opionion in the US has turned b/c of the increasing popularity of mountain bikes, it was a real danger that mountain bikes would be permenantly banned from most trails and many advocacy groups like IMBA worked very hard to help improve the image of mountain biking by doing lobbying, public opionion information and lots of public service mostly in the form of trail maintenance!

    Do mountain bikers do enough to protect the trail? are we still in danger of being banned from the coolest and most fun Single Tracks b/c of trail damage and careless riding?
    why drive when you can ride?
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  2. #2
    Infamous Dumpster Diver Buddha Knuckle's Avatar
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    Greetings Nathank,

    Great thread! I'm pretty self-righteous and love to talk about manners, so here goes:

    Powersliding and skidding may well be the fastest way to nail a turn (a time-honored skill in Rally racing because it lets one oversteer into a turn and maintain momentum), but it really trashes a trail. Everytime I am tempted to practice the skills I see on TV I just think "what if everybody else acted like a yahoo and skidded on this trail," and then I return to earth. Fat singletrack is hard to come by out here, so skidding is not worth it. I'd say it's straight up poor form for any mtb'er.

    One more thing, I was taught that right of way belongs to those coming Up the Hill, not Down, because momentum is harder to come by when travelling uphill. How many times, though, have I gotten withering looks and under-the-breath disses from interrupted downhillers (not Downhillers, but folks on bikes going downhill)? Plenty, I'll tell you. What's up with that?

    Agitated,
    BK

  3. #3
    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    Personally I think the rules you quoted are well worth following.

    Richard
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

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    Originally posted by nathank
    Do mountain bikers do enough to protect the trail?
    No, and they dont need to!!! Those rules are absolute BS and if you want me to comment on each of them, I will.


    Originally posted by Buddha Knuckle
    How many times, though, have I gotten withering looks and under-the-breath disses from interrupted downhillers (not Downhillers, but folks on bikes going downhill)? Plenty, I'll tell you. What's up with that?
    Probably because you got in their way and either made them stop or slow down.
    Last edited by KleinMp99; 08-21-02 at 02:34 PM.

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    Originally posted by KleinMp99


    No, and they dont need to!!! Those rules are absolute BS and if you want me to comment on each of them, I will.


    Probably because you got in their way and either made them stop or slow down.


    LOL...you are the funniest 12 year old I've every seen.

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Having put many hours of labor into the repair of just two switchbacks on a trail close to home, I must agree that skidding through switchbacks is to be avoided. If you don't agree, go out and try repairing a damaged switchback sometime. After about 12 hours of hard labor, I think you'll have a new perspective on skidding. :irritated

    People who remove technical obstacles from the trail annoy me too. If I want to ride down a generic gravel path, I know where to find one! :irritated

    Probably because you got in their way and either made them stop or slow down.
    This makes me angry. I was sent to the hospital (and my bike was totalled) by someone who was riding beyond his stopping distance, despite my taking every possible precaution. Do you really think you have the right to never have anyone get in your way, or else it's THEIR fault if you mow them down at 30mph? Sounds like the attitude I'd expect from a redneck motorist, maybe, but not a bicycle enthusiast. :irritated

  7. #7
    Infamous Dumpster Diver Buddha Knuckle's Avatar
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    Probably because you got in their way and either made them stop or slow down
    Or perhaps they got in mine. The question is 'who's right of way is it?' The answer is clear. It is easier for the downhiller to get started again after stopping than it is for the uphiller. Not only that, the uphiller is travelling slower, therefore his gaze is usually only a few feet in front of his bike; meanwhile the downhiller's eyes are already way down the trail looking for logs and kickers. So again, KleinMP99, what is up with the attitude these cannonballers give off? The responsibility to stop is the downhiller's.

    BK

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    I could be wrong, but judging from past posts from Mr. Klein I think he likes to agitate and throws these witty comebacks out just to see who's gonna bite.

    I personally can't take this guy seriously.

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    Originally posted by Buddha Knuckle
    Or perhaps they got in mine. The question is 'who's right of way is it?' The answer is clear. It is easier for the downhiller to get started again after stopping than it is for the uphiller. Not only that, the uphiller is travelling slower, therefore his gaze is usually only a few feet in front of his bike; meanwhile the downhiller's eyes are already way down the trail looking for logs and kickers. So again, KleinMP99, what is up with the attitude these cannonballers give off? The responsibility to stop is the downhiller's. BK
    I dont know....they really shouldent have an attitude about you on the trail, but if they want to rip the whole way down a trail, they dont want to have to slow down or stop. And of course.....some people are just *******s.

    Originally posted by nathank

    1) ride in the existing trail and do not make the trail wider by going around obstacles or mud puddles. if it's just a little wet, you can go through the puddle and too bad if you get muddy (you're riding a mountain bike what do you expect?) and if it's simply too muddy to ride through then you shouldn't be riding that trail on that day.
    2) do NOT lock up the rear tire and skid, especially in corners or steep descents. on downhills, always use both brakes together. the skidding severely damages and rapidly destroys the trail by tearing the surface away and heavily contributiing to erosion.
    3) clear the trail of fallen trees or litter or debri that should not be there (a glass bottle, fallen tree trunk)
    4) do NOT make the trail easier by removing rocks or obstacles that are a permanent part of the trail. If you are not skilled enough to ride the section, too bad, someone else probably can and do not make the trail easier!
    5) if there are water barriers or bridges or other structures to fight erosion, do not ride around them and circumvent the facilities - ride or walk over the bridge or erosion barrier.
    1 - Yea, I ride through most mud when other people dont. I am just thinking of places up here where there are trails around the mud...whats wrong with making the trail a little wider?
    2 - Of course, skidding down a long hill is not acceptable, but sometimes you just have to do it (sorry, I cant think of a situation)
    3 - I do move trees that are in the way, and if there is litter actually on the trail....like a glass bottle I will stop and throw it.
    4 - I agree totally
    5 - Ok I agree.....I just didnt read the "structures that fight erosion part" before.


    And nice to meet you, Joe and Rockygirl.
    Last edited by KleinMp99; 08-21-02 at 07:16 PM.

  10. #10
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Try this, instead of going around an obstical, go over it. A fallen tree is just part of nature so why move it? Go over. (jk )Ok, I know not every one has the skill to go over. Sliding, only when I fall unless it is on a closed course. There are some hills around here that you must lock the rear brakes to make it down safely but there are not many, if any at all that, that use these trails other then bikers. We always give way to the person or people ascending.
    Slainte

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by KleinMp99


    And nice to meet you, Joe and Rockygirl.
    Nice to meet you too Mr. Klein!

  12. #12
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    hey Klein99MP:

    good to see some real comments from you! (not that your sarcasm doesn't keep things interesting here...)

    whats wrong with making the trail a little wider?
    well, there are a few reasons:
    1) minimizing impact on nature: increases erosion and interferes more with "nature" -- of course, as people are continually building new roads and paving the wilderness the net effect of mountainbikers is pretty small (i'm pretty much against any paved roads, parking lots or major structures in the wilderness --- keep the RV on the Interstate but it doesn't need to be able to drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon...
    2) maintaining MTB access to trails, especially narrow SinglTrack:widening the trails usually pisses non-mountainbikers off -- hikers generally prefer a small narrow trail to a wide double-track, so if hundreds of thousands of mountain bikers constantly widen the trails, the pressure from other trail users to PROHIBIT us from the trails b/c we make them wider will greatly increase ---- seriously, almost all mountain bike trails are on general use land where someone (either individual owner or government agency) could PROHIBIT bikes (legal precedent was was already established in 1996 in a Supreme Court decision) -- then we'd be stuck paying to use specially built controlled courses or restricted to riding boring wide gravel roads and double-tracks
    3) challenge/fun: i am a single-track freak and i love small trails. i find them more fun and more challenging and more scenic. i would rather go up and down and around tight corners on a small narrow rocky singletrack at 10-20mph that bomb down a doubletrack at 2-3 times greater speed

    more than anything else: there are so few small narrow knarly single-track trails out there and if each rider widens the trail a little, pretty soon we won't have any more narrow trails... then we either have none or have to built more -- and eventually no more new trails can be built w/o disturbing the ecosystem... have you ever ridden somewhere where there are shortcuts everywhere and short trail cuts going every direction? there's no challenge, much less beauty and the EROSION is horrible!
    why drive when you can ride?
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  13. #13
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    I think it depends on several things. Are we talking funded mountain trails or pure single track created by a small volunteer group.

    I am on whistler mountain for example it is build for speed and there are people paid good money to maintain the trails in the designated areas.

    However there are single tracks built from scratch by locals. I tend to be more careful on these trails taking the time not to rip up the switchbacks. A lot of riders I know don't power slide around corners but sometimes it is difficult to avoid (getting caught going fast and finding a blind switchback. This happens a lot up here with the steep terrain.

    1 - This is a big pet peave for me. Luckily most of the trail builders out here build escape routes for rookies. Good point about the mud.

    2 - mentioned this above. There are situations that call for it or allow it. Trail builders should have and will have taken this into consideration (example. build an obstacle before the switchback so they have to slow down eitherway)

    3 -

    4 - On the other side. If you are riding a traildon't throw things in the trail to make them more difficult. Most trails are rated. By adding obstacles you are only screwing up the 'flow'

    5 - here here. Man made obstacles started out as ways to help save erosion. if you see them they are there for more than just a challenge

    I do have one other. There are trails which switchback. Which means we have trails that go 20k into the bush and simple turn around. In situations like these or even on fireroads to get to access points. Give the uphill biker the right of way. It is easier to ride a rough section downhill than it is to stop for ignorant riders flying downhill. Everyone had to climb to get to these points.

    The issue of singletracks and being banned doesnt really apply up here. Build groups, environmentalists and the muni's work hard together to maintain a peace. For example on the northshore the muni simply said they can't build any more trails until the old ones were maintained. They were getting to big for the britches as it were.

    This really comes down to two situations. Respect the trails if they are built and supplied by people like you and me. When I ride downhill and pay 400$ in the summer and 1400$ in the winter for a crew to build, maintain and create trails. I ride them.

  14. #14
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    good points Maelstrom!

    Are we talking funded mountain trails
    yeah, i was meaning "open" or free public/private trails -- either private land where the owners is nice enough to let you use it for free, or public trails open to hikers, bikes, dogs, whatever...

    yeah, when you pay to use trails that's a different thing altogether.

    i also agree about the yielding to uphill riders...

    and riding into blind or tight corners or downhills (especially in a group) i yell "Rider!"

    when in a large group, if i'm riding first i tell other riders how many are in our group "3 behind me" or "3 more" so they know to wait or that they can ride on

    on multi-use trails, how do people deal with hikers? ... it varies, but i usually slow down and try to make some noise BEFORE i'm right on top of them so i don't scare them suddenly "appearing"... then usually thank them and ride off --- does anyone say anything or use a bell? bells work and some pedstrians like to not be surprized, but some seem to find it irritating... opinions?
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    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    I avoid multi prupose trails. If I need to use them (there are no multi-purpose single track here. It is either biking and hikers be warned or hiking trails ONLY. The make the hiking trails only very difficult to access to bikes. If there is a ped they will hear me coming and if not I scream on your left. At this point they jump to the left in my way

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    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    riders who do ride single track in Europe are much less conscious and concerned about trail ettiquette and protection than American mountain bikers
    The UK scene is different to Europe in some important ways. The mtb culture grew out from an inherent respect of the countryside (walking, rambling, backpacking, climbing) that is reasonably well governed, and there is a Countryside Code that lays down some elementary suggestions which, from what I've seen, are adhered to. But no matter what the regulations might say, it is the individual rider that has to account for his/her behaviour on the trail.

    On both sides of the meridian, there are jerks. We'll never stamp them out and one jerk can undo a lot of good that is done by a whole gang of responsible riders.

    Etiquette? Well again, things are different. The only places we can normally ride on are shared with other trail users, such as walkers and horse and rider. I think there is an element of respect (Rich D might want to pick this up and comment?). The UK is small enough for all land to be instantly recognised as belonging to someone, so there is a degree of responsibility to that in the minds of most people who use it.

    The US and South Africa have a lot of common. There are incredible expanses of remote, rugged terrain that seemingly belong to the frontier, uncharted, unexplored mindset. Single track trails often take some effort to get to, and usually by those who have equal respect for it. No organisation set down the rules about single track usage. No organisation set down the rules as to who has right of way, uphillers or downhillers. Those rules and accepted codes of conduct are derived from experience and what most bikers take with them onto the trail, long before they ever got there in the first place.

    I shall now step down from my soap-box.
    If your bollocks ain't sore, yer ain't on yer boike!

  17. #17
    member Yo MikeOK's Avatar
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    Here we go. I've heard the no-skid theory for several years. People get their panties in a wad over teenie little 2" tires skidding in the dirt. Come on people, how much damage can we do compared to mother nature? I used to almost believe in the tree hugger philosophy of no skidding but not for a long time. There are much bigger issues to be concerned about than a ditch or a berm. And I think most people at least secretly agree with me. So if you're a closet skidder, and you need some relief, come ride with me. We'll skid. Then we'll turn around and skid again. When we have a big berm of dirt built up from skidding we'll ramp it and make some new skids. Then when the rain comes and washes away our berms we'll start all over. Give me a break. Or give me a brake so I can skid some more. And by the way, I'm 39, and I have a 13 year old son. When we ride we skid and we laugh about it. Chill out people...

  18. #18
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    MikeOK,

    i don't knwo much about you except your tag says you're from Eastern Oklahoma... so i'm guessing that you guys have quite a lot of space and not too many problems from overcrowded trails and overuse...

    the damage from "teeni-weenie 2 in tires" gets to be a problem when hundred or thousands of riders skid down the same trail every week, week after week...

    so, especially near big metro areas which don't have a lot of trails to begin with... say Boston or Dallas... i totally disagree. i've lived in Portland OR, Austin TX, western Mass, Houston TX, Austin TX, Dallas TX and Munich Germany, and spent fair amounts of time and ridden in Philadelphia PA, NH/Vermont, Denver/Boulder CO, SF CA, Seattle WA, NYC, and Vancouver PA and the Alps--- all places where there are lots of riders on the trails.

    big then, you're pretty much free to do whatever you want. i just hope you don't ride any of the trails i like! or in 10 years your son doesn't move to someplace and follow the example set by his good-ole-dad --- personally i don't see myself being in Oklahoma any time soon (i had a really good job offer in OK city a while back and had to say no b/c i "have" to live near mountains) and hopefully there are few enough people there to do much damage to the trails --- so you might be quite right for where you live! but as a general policy what you do DOES damage the trail and riders should be taught NOT to do it --- then if someone decides there are so few riders on a trail that it won't matter, then fine, at least the issue was considered. also, mountain biking is GROWING very fast, so even if it's not a problem yet, maybe in 10 years it will be if everyone rides w/o considering his effect on the trail.
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    member Yo MikeOK's Avatar
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    Actually we are overcrowded on some of our trails. That's why I'm not so concerned about a little mtn bike skidding a tire since the 4 wheelers and dirt bikes (sometimes me on a dirt bike too) can cause so much more damage than a mtn bike that it's laughable to make all these silly rules and to turn your back on anyone who wants to let loose and have some fun. And after a big rain you can't even see the damage that was created by the machined riders, let alone a teenie little bicycle tire.

    Don't get me wrong, there are places where I will fight to keep the trails nice- like several places I've been in Colorado. It would be a crime to desecrate some of those places. I have always treaded as lightly as I can. And I think I am smart enough to know the difference. But to make a blanket statement not to skid your rear tire- bolonie!!!

    Many of you are trying to protect your right to ride from the eco-nazi's who don't think any kind of human involvement should be allowed to exist in the wilderness. But I have been around long enough to know that you are fighting a losing battle. They will win for a while, then they will lose. When they finally do completely win and get us locked out, I invite all of you down to some prpoerty I own in the Ozarks. Don't watch me too close because I will probably be skidding. And smiling...

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    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Ahhh ok...Mixed trails like that and I would be ripping it up to. But for the trails that really are for biking only (we have lots obviously) I make sure to watch my biking.

    If you have dirt bikes ripping on the same trails jeez that would make for one rutted trail. OMG.

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    1.64x10^6 posts Grendel's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Buddha Knuckle


    Or perhaps they got in mine. The question is 'who's right of way is it?' The answer is clear. It is easier for the downhiller to get started again after stopping than it is for the uphiller. Not only that, the uphiller is travelling slower, therefore his gaze is usually only a few feet in front of his bike; meanwhile the downhiller's eyes are already way down the trail looking for logs and kickers. So again, KleinMP99, what is up with the attitude these cannonballers give off? The responsibility to stop is the downhiller's.

    BK
    Okay, I'm new here so help me understand this if the point has been covered before -- why shouldn't the downhill rider have the right of way? The important part (IMO) is not how easy it is to get going again after meeting on the trail, but rather it is the difficulty of stopping and manuevering so that the two riders don't collide. It's a lot harder for a rider on a good downhill to slow down or stop or steer clear than it is for the much slower uphill rider. All the momentum (and the laws of physics) are on the side of the downhill guy, yet you expect them to take all of the evasive action in this trail meeting -- sorry, but to me that doesn't make sense.

  22. #22
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    No offense, but I have to assume you've never been smashed head-on by a downhill rider and sent to the hospital, if you think the uphill rider should get out of the way...

    The downhill rider MUST be prepared to stop in the event that he/she encounters an uphill rider who 1) does not see the downhill rider at all, or 2) cannot evade in time due to the closing speed of the downhill rider, or 3) has nowhere to evade to.

  23. #23
    pnj
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    word.

    EVERY rider is responsible for their own actions.

    if the person riding down hill can't stop in time they are going to fast. bottom line.

    everyone needs to pay attention to what is going on further down the trail.

    the person going uphill has less distance and more reaction time because of the speed they are traveling.
    4130

  24. #24
    1.64x10^6 posts Grendel's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mechBgon
    No offense, but I have to assume you've never been smashed head-on by a downhill rider and sent to the hospital, if you think the uphill rider should get out of the way...

    The downhill rider MUST be prepared to stop in the event that he/she encounters an uphill rider who 1) does not see the downhill rider at all, or 2) cannot evade in time due to the closing speed of the downhill rider, or 3) has nowhere to evade to.
    Well, you're right in the sense that I've never been plowed over by a downhill rider, at least not yet. But if I'm chugging uphill on a trail and I don't spend the whole time looking at my front tire then I might not have that problem. I agree that downhill riders should stay within their ability to control the bike -- you should be able to stop in time for anything you see on the trail -- but I don't agree that the right of way should go to the uphill bike. Some folks seem to be putting all the responsibility of stopping and getting out of the way on the person who is least able to do either one... the downhill rider.

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Least able to do either one? Why...? Because he/she is riding beyond his/her stopping distance, perhaps? The uphill rider is not the one making the situation potentially hazardous, and therefore should not bear the primary burden of eliminating the hazard IMHO. Or is it my problem that the other rider is reckless?

    In the collision that sent me to the hospital, I could have stopped completely and it wouldn't have saved me. Ironically, I was fully aware of the potential for a collision at that spot, and was watching intently for oncoming riders on the trail... but at a closing speed of about 30 miles per hour (5mph for me, 25mph for him) there was no way I could get out of the way... no time to react. Gee, I guess it's my fault, huh?

    Test out your theory sometime. Start climbing a singletrack ascent on a hillside trail that puts you in your granny gear. Have a friend descend at 20-25mph down the trail toward you. See for yourself whether it's easy to get out of the way when your friend explodes through the brush. Where are you supposed to go? Just fall off the trail to the downhill side? Unclip, jump up the bank and haul your bike up after you?

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