Mountain bikes are awesome. They get you away from it all and free you from the daily grind. However, they are not without rules and unless you want to be referred to as “that inconsiderate bastard on the [YOUR BIKE]” you need to be doing your best to follow trail etiquette. Unfortunately there aren’t any written rules on how you need to act when out and about – until now that is! Here’s everything you need to know, luckily it’s not a lot to remember!
MTB Trail Etiquette
1. Always Respect the Trail – If you’ve ever built up your own trail or pitched in on a build day then you know just how much hard work goes into making those jumps, berms and flowing singletrack we know and love. Don’t take this for granted. Don’t ruin the trails for everyone else by littering, building rubbish jumps or lines in an already good section of the trail.
2. Be friendly – We’re incredibly lucky in the UK to have access to so many areas where we can ride. Don’t abuse this. Be friendly to hikers, horse riders and anyone else on the trail. If there is someone walking slowly down the trail call out to them and slow to pass – it may affect your Strava time but it can save a lot of aggravation in the long run.
3. Help other riders - Yes, you could argue that this is the same thing as ‘be friendly’ and to a large extent it is. If you see someone on the side of the trail struggling with a mechanical issue or because they’ve fallen off then stop and check to see if they need any help. While we should all be prepared for whatever the mountains can throw at us it isn’t impossible that they’ve forgotten to bring tubes or a multi-tool with them.
4. Ride within your limits - there’s nothing worse than flying down a black run and narrowly missing crashing into the back of someone struggling to get down there. Everyone has to start off somewhere, but don’t run before you crawl – there is no shame in pottering down the blues and building your way up. We’ve all done it. If you’re a more experience rider then don’t lose your rag when you do come across newbies on a black trail, instead try to direct them to a trail more suited to their abilities – chances are they don’t want to be there either!
5. Give way to uphill riders - Trails that aren’t direction specific can be difficult when it comes to crossing and unfortunately for the gravity riders, we need to give way to anyone that’s climbing. Let’s face it, it is harder work and it is much easier to get back on going down than it is going up! If you are climbing and see someone coming down make sure they know you’re there – switchbacks can be a dangerous place to be. Note: Yelling STRAVA! Is not a valid passing call.
6. Prepare for your ride - Don’t go out unequipped. There is no excuse for not having enough water, spare tubes, multi-tools, food or extra layers. Plan your rides ahead of time and pack your bags accordingly – on small local routes you obviously won’t need as much as full weekend adventures, but it never fails to be prepared.
7. Wear a Helmet - This may be lower down the list, but it is by no means any less important. When out riding, safety is paramount. Talk to any regular rider and they will undoubtedly tell you about how a helmet has saved their lives at least once. Always wear a helmet and any other pads that make you feel safer and more comfortable on the trails – in fact, most trail centres don’t allow riders without them!
8. Have fun – This is what its all about after all. We may ride all types of bikes on a wide range of trails but eventually it all boils down to one thing – having fun. Don’t over-think MTB trail etiquette and you’ll probably do just fine.