Sharing the Trail
On any given day, weekday or weekend, you will find lots of hikers on the front country trails. You can expect to encounter at least a few hikers, and most likely many more. How you ride down the trails and the attitude you bring with you will determine to a great extent whether these encounters are safe and pleasant for all parties.
I like to treat my downhill riding as an exercise in “trials” riding, where the objective is not speed but balance and grace. Flowing with what the trails give to me presents its own rewards. I stop often, too, to savor the views, take in the sights, and snap a picture or two. I am always friendly and courteous when I meet a hiker, and I try to stop and chat for a minute or two if the hiker feels so inclined.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned over the years:
•?Earning the right to ride down the trail by riding up the hill first always makes me feel much better afterwards than if I had been carried up in a car.
•?There is little that needs conquering anymore. I do not need to prove myself. Besides, as I grow older, it only gets harder and harder to do anyway.
•?Being in control is good.
•?Wheels should always keep moving. If the bike is moving and your rear wheel isn’t, you are causing damage.
•?Speeding around a blind corner or down a switchback doesn’t prove anything except how little foresight you have.
•?Trails are fragile and much more susceptible to damage by a heavy object (you and your bike) sliding down them than by a foot. If you can cause more damage, then you need to be even more careful, not less.
•?Hammering the trails is of little value if you experiencing nothing along the way.
•?It is much nicer to be able to smile and say hello when you see someone else on the trail than to have them shout obscenities as you disappear into the distance. It’s much easier on your psyche too.
•?It is always better when you act in a way which allows others to have as much fun as you are having. Fun is good, and everyone should be allowed to have lots and lots of it.
•?The mistakes you make shouldn’t be paid for by others. There are a lot of little children on the trails, as well as hikers in their sixties and seventies. Don’t make them pay for what you do.