Rules of the Trail

Rode with a few new people yesterday for the first time. They were new to BBTC rides and new to riding with some of the people that were there. And I'm not sure they're going to be back. A couple of these guys were fast and pretty skilled and I really enjoyed riding with them, and look forward to doing it again, but it's most likely going to be on off-list rides. And it's a shame they likely won't do many more posted rides because the reasons for their (our) frustrations were completely avoidable.

Several times the four or five us got to talking yesterday about common courtesy during group rides. I think some people need a refresher.

1) If you get hung up on an obstacle or can't clear a section of trail, DO NOT slowly dismount and walk your way over it. DO get the hell out of the way so other riders can attempt it. As one rider said under his breath yesterday, "Just because you can't clear it doesn't mean the 6 guys behind you can't either!" Nobody remembers that you couldn't clear an obstacle, only that you wouldn't get the heck out of the way.

2) If you consistently hear someone right on your back wheel or routinely notice riders behind you stopping to allow a large gap develop between you and them, DO pull to the side and let them pass. DO NOT continue riding obliviously down the trail without concern for whose enjoyment you may be impacting. DEFINITELY DO NOT force multiple people to ride their brakes the entire way down the trail behind you and then try to tell them about how fast you are. As a different rider said yesterday, "I shouldn't have to ask to pass." I agree. Whenever I'm on a trail in front of someone, I always make a point to ask if they want to pass. Rode over 20 miles yesterday and didn't hear one particular rider ask that question once despite obvious frustration from numerous other riders.

3) DO realize that nobody thinks poorly about anyone who is in their rightful spot in the train, whether it be up front or at the back. Nobody minds the really fast guy/gal being up front on the flowy courses, nobody minds the big-bike folks with Spider-Man skills leading the charge on the stunt-trails, and nobody minds the slower rider being in the back. Do realize that nobody cares who the first one down the trail is. It's not a contest and nobody earns bragging rights. UNLESS you are not a fast rider and are, instead, making everybody's enjoyment suffer. Then people will talk.

4) DO call out the turns as you make them and stop to wait if the person behind you is far behind. Everyone seemed really good about this yesterday. Had over 16 people and nobody got lost or separated for more than a couple minutes.

5) DO have fun, smile, hoot, holler, and share tools and jokes while regrouping at intersections. DO use the frequent regroups as a chance to be social. DO use the time spent on the trail as a chance to actually, you know, ride your bike.


E said...

It's all about communication, if you have to say it under your breath then it doesn't help anybody.
I think yesterday the faster riders had ample time to be out front on many of the trails and only got caught in traffic a few times. I was only up front a few times, so maybe I am wrong. It was a social paced ride no less.

Doug Walsh said...

No doubt about the communication, but everyone can sense when there are people right on there tail. People shouldn't mumble under the breath, but they also shouldn't need to speak up about it either. Especially in regards to people not getting out of the way when failing to clear an obstacle.

As for the pacing, when it's a stop-and-go ride like yesterday's I think the "social" term doesn't really imply that people have to ride slow on the trail, only that there will be frequent stops and regroups. I didn't hear anyone complaining about the regrouping and stopping. If it were a lengthy point-to-point ride then I would agree that social means riding slower and staying together. But if we're all going to regroup every 1/2 mile then there's no reason not to let the faster guys race ahead.

Just to be clear though, that this was a post a long-time in the making. Neither anything you, or anyone else on yesterday's ride may or may not have done was not the sole reason for the posting. Only that it sucked to hear people say they wouldn't ride BBTC rides again. Either way, thanks for leading it!

Maarten said...

Ya know, I'll take the opposite view on this one. If you feel so strongly that you want to pass, DO NOT waste your breath muttering quietly. Just open your mouth and ask "hey, can I pass you?" If that's too much effort, then you were getting more enjoyment out of being indignant and righteous than you were out of riding.

Most people (certainly me) don't enjoy having someone right on their wheel. What really torques me about group rides is that people start into a trail with virtually no space in between riders. They let the previous rider go for 5 or 10 seconds, and then... get right on their wheel. SURPRISE! *rolls eyes* And that's even with the usual "no, you go first. No, I'm really slow, YOU go first" B.S. that inevitably takes place.

I agree it would be great if ride leaders would make the effort to review some of the trail etiquette at the start of each ride, especially the stepping aside after putzing some technical feature and calling out turns.

E said...

I think it is up to the riders themselves to read the rules, these rides are not boot camp classes. The ride leader already has their hands full and even more so when the groups get big. I made darn sure everyone knew to call out turns. The last thing I want to do after riding all day with nothing left in the tank is to go looking for a lost rider, because the person they were following didn't call out the turn or wait for them. It happens a lot, but I've only had one incident 2 or 3 years ago that I lost a rider. That one time I had to ride all over Tolt looking for a rider. He wasn't slow by any means, just didn't feel like riding that evening after all and went home. I have times like that, but I at would at least tell somone I am leaving. Brian our Ex Prez was on that ride, nothing like a little stress to go with the ride.
I hear the comment won't do club rides a lot, not always directed at me, but in general to the list, or forums. Heck I quit riding with the club several years ago myself. At that time only hammerfest rides were posted or places I had no interest in riding.

Doug Walsh said...

"Ya know, I'll take the opposite view on this one. If you feel so strongly that you want to pass, DO NOT waste your breath muttering quietly. Just open your mouth and ask "hey, can I pass you?" If that's too much effort, then you were getting more enjoyment out of being indignant and righteous than you were out of riding."

I agree with this as well. I guess I can see both sides to this. I have no problem giving a quick "mind if I go by" if I feel strongly about it. However, I also have definitely pulled over for faster riders without needing to be asked. Eh, whatever, I guess.

Erik does do a great job of making sure everyone stays together and that is definitely the number one priority on rides -- and I'm sure he wouldn't have the large groups if that wasn't the case. And it's definitely odd when you don't know who some of the folks signing up for the ride are.

I don't think any of this really falls on the "ride leader" because I'm not thinking in terms of whose leading who. Only more about the group dynamic and riding in the pack where you can gain maximum enjoyment without slowing others down beyond reason.

All of this said, I'm sure everyone had a good time yesterday (except maybe the guy who left early). Too bad you couldn't come out for lunch Erik -- we had a good-sized group.

E said...

Easter Sunday and went out for a 5hr ride. I am sure I missed a good lunch, but it was in my best interest to head home. :)

Doug Walsh said...

Maarten's comment about the "'No, you go first. No, I'm really slow, YOU go first' B.S. that inevitably takes place." made me laugh.

Reminds me of the ride Erik led down at St Helens last summer on day #2. The trails were so dusty and there was a huge group and everyone was trying to be polite. Erik was insisting the faster guys go first and everyone was trying to be nice and defer to someone else. Finally, after the third time Erik asked for someone to go (by now he was practically demanding that someone finally start down the trail) I remembered how dusty the trails would be and finally went first. Glad I did too, as the dust was suffocating. Nobody had to tell me twice to lead the way the rest of that day. LOL!

Frustration and petty bickering aside... I'm just glad it's spring time again and we're getting more and more chances to ride.

And for what it's worth, don't anybody think for a second that I don't hold myself guilty of a few etiquette violations too. It's spring -- this post was really just a reminder for riders everywhere on how to make the riding more enjoyable for everyone. Albeit with my trademark sarcastic overload. :-)

And although it may have seemed like I was picking on yesterday's ride at Tokul East, my email suggests I have a fair number of readers so the post was really for riders everywhere. These comments are more personal though. Hope nobody took it personal. Unless of course you should. ;-)

See you on the trails...