Respect trail and road closures (ask if not sure), avoid possible trespass on private land, obtain permits or other authorization as may be required. Federal and state Wilderness areas are closed to cycling. The way you ride will influence trail management decisions and policies.
2. LEAVE NO TRACE.
Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Even on open (legal) trails, you should not ride under conditions where you will leave evidence of your passing, such as on certain soils after a rain. Recognize different types of soils and trail construction; practice low-impact cycling. 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.
3. CONTROL YOUR BICYCLE!
Inattention for even a second can cause problems. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations.
4. ALWAYS YIELD TRAIL.
Make known your approach well in advance. A friendly greeting or bell is considerate and works well; don't startle others. Show your respect when passing by slowing to a walking pace or even stopping. Anticipate other trail users around corners or in blind spots.
5. NEVER SPOOK ANIMALS.
All animals are startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can be dangerous for you, others, and the animals. Give animals extra 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 is a serious offense. Leave gates as you found them, or as marked.
6. PLAN AHEAD.
Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding -- and prepare accordingly. Be self-sufficient at all times, keep your equipment in good repair, and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. A well-executed trip is a satisfaction to you and not a burden or offense to others. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
KEEP TRAILS OPEN BY SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE OF ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE OFF-ROAD CYCLING.
Riding sweet singletrack is one of the best experiences you can have. Yet, inexperienced and careless riders put these magic trails at risk, widening them and creating detours around obstacles that better cyclists ride right over. These practices ruin the ecology next to the original trail and encourage others to ride wrong. Ironically, it may also mean that you never master basic technical skills, which limits your progress as a cyclist.
The worst thing about careless singletrack riding, though, is that it often results in confrontations with land-management groups, which may lead to rules banning off-road cycling.
Most of us would rather ride singletrack than doubletrack and fireroad. And we don't want trail restrictions. Here are seven ideas to keep singletrack in pristine condition.
1. Only ride marked singletrack There are many inviting paths that diverge from singletrack but, unless marked, these trails are often deer paths and abandoned trails that usually lead into impassable brush and undergrowth. Taking these paths widens and damages the singletrack at the intersection. Plus, it riles mountain-bike opponents.
2. Ride the middle of the trail Over time many singletrack corners begin to resemble fireroads. To prevent this, take the middle line in corners. If you take an extreme outside line, you force the corner outward. Worse, some sloppy cyclists create detours by cutting corners! Skilled riders stick to the middle of the trail knowing that anything else wrecks the trail for everyone.
3. Pedal, don't swim Riding on a rainy, mud-soaked trail may be great for Mountain Dew commercials but it tears up the trails, especially singletrack. With extremely wet conditions, you may actually be running (and swimming) more than riding. If running, swimming and biking is what you really want, find your nearest triathlon! Plus, riding in gritty and sloppy conditions wreaks havoc on your brakes and drivetrain. Is an hour of grinding in the goo really worth the price of a new cassette, chain, brake pads, bottom bracket and headset?
4. Water Hazards are good Riding on waterlogged trails is bad, yet riding through puddles is good. Many times puddles remain long after most of your favorite singletrack has dried. Learn to accept these puddles as challenges to enjoy because avoiding them results in doubling or tripling the trail width just to avoid a little mud and water. You can't avoid all the puddles so you might as well enjoy them. Shifting your weight backward will insure that you ride over the puddle instead of diving into it face-first.
5. Do your best Hans Rey impersonation Ride over logs whenever possible. These obstacles sometimes create problems for beginning riders but the answer is not a path around them. Either dismount (hey, practicing dismounts comes in handy for cyclocross season) or hone your technique until you can ride it. The obstacles are what make singletrack fun. Enjoy them. Even bicycle acrobat Hans Rey had to start somewhere!
6. Learn from others If you're not sure how to ride a particular challenge, get advice from more experienced riders. Additionally following better riders will teach you to find and ride a better, more central line. No one to ride with? Consider riding the singletrack later in the day. This will give more experienced riders the opportunity to make a path through snow or autumn leaves, which you can follow.
7. Try to stay on the trail when passing When you meet oncoming riders in an area of delicate soil or flora, be sure to only put one foot down. Leave your inside foot clipped in while leaning the bike to the outside. Unclip your outside foot and and place it in as unobtrusive a location as possible. Putting just one foot down not only helps the singletrack but it just might prevent you from getting poison ivy or oak.
For experienced riders singletrack abuse is a major worry. Others may have never considered the issue. We hope that these suggestions make you aware of your impact on the trail. Whether you are an experienced rider or a first-timer, your attention to this issue will help the image of mountain biking and preserve your favorite singletrack. Plus, it will reduce the amount of trail work (photo) required of volunteers (photo courtesy of the International Mountain Bicycling Association).
Trail Being Closed? Here's how to keep it open!
Don't let these signs appear on our trails!
1. Get the facts regarding the closure. Don't rely on rumors.
Ask these key questions:
Why is the trail being closed?
Who is making decisions regarding the closure?
Where exactly is the closure?
How does the closure fit in with the overall trail plan?
2. Get involved with a local mountain-bike club because they are usually already working on the issues. Ask us about clubs in the area.
3. Ask the decision-makers if you can provide input. If necessary, ask for a delay in decisions to gain time.
4. Be respectful and develop a responsible reputation. Ranting and raving won't help keep trails open. The political process requires cooperation, patience and tenacity.
5. Help mobilize your group. Hold meetings, attend hearings, provide information, volunteer for trailwork, etc.
6. Get businesses with economic interest in the local trails to back you, including resort and tourist groups, newspapers, and other local companies.
7. Learn from the process to anticipate future problems. It's much more effective to work with land managers and other user groups before a situation reaches the crisis stage.
8. Contact I.M.B.A. at the link below. They can offer strategic advice about how to handle local trail crises. Contact information for key individuals, including the I.M.B.A. state rep, can be found on their website, too.