Nobody wants to be “that guy”.
More often than not, a simple misunderstanding might leave someone with the perception that a particular user group is more courteous than the other or is more entitled to their little piece of dirt. Stereotypes abound on the trails, so your best antidote is to overcompensate for the bad apples that plague EVERY user group, and do your part to be a good trail user.
Early Season Trails & What to Avoid
Summit County has a particular challenge with early season riding, and mostly it’s because folks don’t know where to go and what’s wet or dry. If it’s early (before the end of June most years, and even later for some higher trails) there will be mud, puddles and likely even snow on some trails. We plan to help alert our fans on Facebook (follow us if you don’t already!) and have a trails condition page here.
But the general rule of thumb is this: If it’s early season, avoid trails that are substantially covered with forest, are not exposed, or are north-facing. Trails like Peaks Trail, Turks, Nightmare on Baldy, V3, Sidedoor, Slalom all tend to be trails that are best left off your bucket list until you know for sure they’re dry. That saying about “Leave only footprints”? We don’t really even want you to leave those. Or tire ruts. If it’s that muddy turn around.
Good early rides are the Frisco Peninsula, Sallie Barber, and even in May, head to Buena Vista or Salida for some amazing rides. And of course the Front Range offers some great riding. Help us keep the trails in good condition and observe closings, pay attention to people who say a trail is muddy, and if you are out on an otherwise dry trail and come across a puddle, don’t go around it. Ride straight through. Keep singletrack single.
Trail users of all types and skills can be found in Summit County.
So practice the industry standard: Bikers yield to hikers, walkers, equestrians, just about everyone. And that doesn’t mean blowing by a hiker with a dog because you found a space to do so. It means asking them if you can pass, stopping and even dismounting (especially for equestrians), to let them pass safely. It’s good to ask if the horse or dog is okay with riders, too.
For other riders on singletrack, the uphill rider always has the right of way. Don’t pretend that person climbing can handle you squeezing by—it’s not worth it. If you can’t communicate a plan to the other rider, stop or dismount and let them go by.
Ride in control. Don’t skid around corners or brake hard. Stay on the trail. Don’t litter.
Motorized users can be encountered on some trails, and typically these users are not only pretty dang friendly, but will stop and let you pass them.
BE NICE. Say hi to people. Announce yourself. Say thank you. Your logo-emblazoned lycra kit and carbon frame do not entitle you to be a jerk to other people or other riders. No one really cares about your Strava and karma will nail you at the next race for being an ass.
A gesture as small as a nod, a wave, a grunt goes a long way to your fellow biker and trail user, because some day they may be asked if they have problems with bikers on trails. We want their answer to be NO.
What’s more, that person you see on the trail may be the one who gives you a ride home after a flat, sees you in your neighborhood, teaches your kid, or saves your broken and bloody ass on the trail.
If our languages has offended you, sorry. This is important and we have strong feelings.
From the IMBA website, some good rules of thumb to also consider anywhere you ride:
- Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.
- Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
- Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
- Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
- Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
- Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.