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Trail Etiquette

Old 06-08-20, 01:16 PM
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Illinest
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Trail Etiquette

My noob ass and my 10 year old daughter found ourselves on a black diamond trail. It was above our skill level. The woods were a bit dense and we weren't sure if we should go backward or go forward.

What's the polite choice? We decided to go forward and we were able to bypass the tougher stuff, but if anyone had come up fast behind us there might have been some issues.


Just wondering.
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Old 06-08-20, 03:21 PM
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You were slow b/c you accidentally ended up over your heads.
Another rider might have been slower still, on account of having crashed out. Anytime you go around a blind corner, or over a blind hump, you have to assume there can be an obstacle waiting to surprise you.
If I realized my mistake early enough, I might try to walk the bike back, off or right at the edge of the track. If Im too far in, Id push ahead best as I could. And be ready to get off the track if I heard someone catching up.
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Old 06-08-20, 04:26 PM
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If I was too deep in, I'd keep on pushing forward. Good thing no one was bombing down! I'd check Trailforks or a similar app first before going places.
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Old 06-08-20, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
You were slow b/c you accidentally ended up over your heads.
Another rider might have been slower still, on account of having crashed out. Anytime you go around a blind corner, or over a blind hump, you have to assume there can be an obstacle waiting to surprise you.
If I realized my mistake early enough, I might try to walk the bike back, off or right at the edge of the track. If Im too far in, Id push ahead best as I could. And be ready to get off the track if I heard someone catching up.
Originally Posted by 2cam16 View Post
If I was too deep in, I'd keep on pushing forward. Good thing no one was bombing down! I'd check Trailforks or a similar app first before going places.
Thanks for advice.

I just thought I was getting us to a trail. I didn't even know how to read the signposts yet. I know better now. I'm learning about IMBA and blue and black trails, etc...
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Old 06-09-20, 05:40 PM
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If anyone is going to get upset with you then they would probably get upset over anything. Mountain biking is meant to be fun and these things happen. I find the mtb community is much more kind than others. The one piece of helpful advice I could give is not to stand on any features for too long. Not only because that can ruin the flow of a trail for someone, but its dangerous for both parties involved. But with that said, if no one gets hurt, there is no reason anyone should be upset.
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Old 06-10-20, 07:14 AM
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Not a big deal. Keep moving forward as best you can. Listen for riders coming up behind and step to the side if possible. Try to be predictable, it is the faster riders job to find a way around, but don't try to make it more difficult for them.
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Old 06-10-20, 08:48 AM
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I don't think it makes much difference etiquette-wise. Just do whatever seems easiest and gets you off the trail sooner. If you pull off when you hear someone coming, that's about all anyone can reasonably expect, and most will appreciate it (many slower people don't pull over). For the most part, mountain bikers are a pretty encouraging crowd, and will probably be happy to see a 10-year old on the trail.
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Old 06-11-20, 03:00 PM
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Generally there's no reason to not ride backwards, unless it's a designated one way trail. I wouldn't worry too much about etiquette as long as you aren't doing anything dumb like sitting in the landing of a jump.
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Old 06-14-20, 09:47 AM
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I'm just about to get into mountain biking and my daughter is interested too so this is good to think about. I didn't even know there were one way and two way trails. Will one way trails start and end at the same place usually or will I need a ride back to the starting point?
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Old 06-15-20, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by cityfeet View Post
I'm just about to get into mountain biking and my daughter is interested too so this is good to think about. I didn't even know there were one way and two way trails. Will one way trails start and end at the same place usually or will I need a ride back to the starting point?
In my area the trails are maintained by SAMBA. SAMBA is (as I understand it) a local chapter of IMBA. Google IMBA when you get a chance.

SAMBA marks trails with a post that shows the difficulty (which in my limited experience is a bit of an imprecise science) and if a trail is intended to be one-way then it'll say "exit" on one of the posts. But it is still possible to get onto trails without seeing the marker, as happened to me. I guess if that happens you just do your best.

In my area, all of the single track trails that I have found so far enter and exit from a paved walkway or a gravel trail. Many are marked but I've seen plenty of unmarked. I took a mixed purpose trail (double track?) for 2 miles before realizing it didn't connect to anything. We had to ride all the way back to the start. Oops.


When you're done reading about IMBA you should check out singletracks.com or MTB project. I know there a few others as well. I use Strava as well - to give me a map and reduce some of the anxiety about getting lost.


I don't know much but I do know what it's like to be in your shoes since I'm basically still there.

Last edited by Illinest; 06-15-20 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 06-23-20, 04:03 PM
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We have all been there, whether we want to admit it or not! I have walked out of a few double-black diamond trails I found myself on. Luckily, I ride early in the AM when no one is out to witness my stupidity. Seems like the prevailing attitude is understanding and compassion. Next time (and there will be one!) you'll probably have riders stopping to make sure you're not broken down!
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Old 06-23-20, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by WannaGetGood View Post
If anyone is going to get upset with you then they would probably get upset over anything. Mountain biking is meant to be fun and these things happen. I find the mtb community is much more kind than others. The one piece of helpful advice I could give is not to stand on any features for too long. Not only because that can ruin the flow of a trail for someone, but its dangerous for both parties involved. But with that said, if no one gets hurt, there is no reason anyone should be upset.
The first time I went out with friends, we took a double black diamond trail where every jump had a bypass. As a complete MTB noob, I chose to bypass every one. A guy rides up behind me, so I stand off to the side to let him pass. He refuses, instead angrily telling me I shouldn't be on the trail.

MTBers like to say they're somehow more welcoming than other cyclists, but there are going to be those types anywhere.

​​​​​
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Old 06-23-20, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by cityfeet View Post
I'm just about to get into mountain biking and my daughter is interested too so this is good to think about. I didn't even know there were one way and two way trails. Will one way trails start and end at the same place usually or will I need a ride back to the starting point?
I have helped build many miles of trails for both motorized and non-motorized use. Not all trails will be marked with regard to direction of flow because signs cost money and they actually do wear out or get hit by things. I've had elk eat wooden sign posts in the winter for the salt content in the treated wood. Some staging areas (place where you park and set up your gear) will have a kiosk with paper maps. It pays to study the map first. Some places are just a free-for-all and you learn as you go. Never be afraid to ask someone that looks like they know what they're doing-most bikers are willing to share their knowledge, especially with an interested audience. Good luck and enjoy.
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Old 06-26-20, 03:36 PM
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Even is a trail is marked with difficulty, there may be riders graduating to riding more difficult trails-noone could know if you're one of those or not. I'm not a fast trail rider (not the youngest either!). I just try to get out of the way if a faster rider is coming up on me, riders coming downhill should yield to riders coming uphill. If you see someone apparently broken down, or perhaps in physical stress, offer help. Carry in-carry out (don't leave behind bar wrappers or anything that wasn't there when you rode the trail). Don't ride overly muddy trails--it not only tears up the trails, but in worst case scenario could possibly result in trail closure (some of my favorite trails when I lived near PA started posting whether the trail was open or closed to bikes, horses, hikers on a sign board at the parking lots). Try to ride the trails that suit your skill, and once you feel ready, step it up!
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