"The Gentleman and Lady Biker"
by Sir Nagsalot
If you're here, there is no doubt you are enjoying your quality time with Sir Nagsalot. Here he offers some proper rules of conduct for the gentleman or lady mountain biker. Take heed his nags (I mean advice), since you won't likely be able to call for his aid in the great outdoors.
The Unfortunate Truth
Mountain bikers are relative newcomers to the trail systems that grace our parks and Colorado’s high country. Often bikers are viewed as unwelcomed interlopers by hikers and equestrians. Riders who exhibit bad manners or threaten the safety of other trail users give all bikers a bad reputation and sometimes precipitate the closure of trails to biking. Aggressive riding also takes a toll on the trail itself and can damage the ecology. The unfortunate truth is that there's a bitter war over the trails. If we can't win over our enemies, we'll only have ourselves to blame!
Right of Way
Always be considerate and polite to others. Hikers and horsemen have the right of way. While we bikers often outnumber other trail users, we do not own the trail. Bikers should slow down and announce their presence when overtaking others on the trail, including other bikers. Downhill riders should yield to those going uphill. Offer special deference to elderly hikers and families with children. Remember that horses can be easily spooked and dogs don’t always know to get out of the way. Inconsiderate riding is one of the fastest ways to close off a trail, so your choice is simple: yield once now or yield forever later.
The Gentle Tread
You know the old hiking advice: “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures.” The same should be true of mountain bikers. Ride so as not to damage the trail. Stay on the trail. Do not widen the tread by getting off the trail - even if that means riding through mud. Do not create shortcuts, ride around water bars, or skid your rear tire around corners, all of which damage the trail. Be careful not to litter. Avoid injuring trees and shrubs, flowers, and grasses. Remember that high altitude tundra and cryptobiotic soil in the desert are very fragile and take decades to recover from even modest impact. Go out of your way to pick up items discarded or lost by other trail users. Be a friend to Mother Earth.
Creatures Great and None too Small
While rare, mountain bikers may occasionally encounter some of nature's woodland critters. If you happen to come across a giant winged lizard which spits fire, you should bend back and try to kiss your arse good-bye! Any creature less than that, follow these rules:
- Try not to alarm wildlife. Do not chase or threaten animals. Do not make empty promises or unwanted friendly advances. Remember, you are riding in the animals' homes. Be a courteous neighbor.
- If you encounter a bear, back away slowly and hide your pic-a-nic basket. If attacked, curl into a ball. A ball, NOT a cube!! If that fails, pretend it's a dragon (i.e. kiss your arse...).
- Should you encounter a mountain lion, maintain eye contact, use your bike as a shield, and make loud noises. Raise your arms to appear larger. Do not turn or run away, as this may trigger the cat’s hunting instinct. Do not lie on the ground. Do NOT then proceed to pour barbecue sauce and catnip all over yourself.
- And if all else fails, grab your bike pump or multi-tool and FIGHT BACK!
Lend a Hand
If you come across anyone in distress (damsel, repentant rogue, wayward hobbits...), please stop to offer help.
Where to Show off Your Good Manners
Now that you know how to act like a "proper" biker, you may feel ready to hit the trails. Please check out our trails library under the "Geographic Areas" page for some ideas or, if you're really new to off-road biking, please feel free to download and print out a copy of our "Trail Guide for Novice Bikers."