Trail Ethics: Keeping singletrack single

WP_20141221_16_24_06_ProI don’t think any of us would choose to ride a dirt road knowing that there is singletrack available for us to pedal. Just like, given the choice, we would all prefer narrow, windy, flowy trail to rutted and wide ones. Luckily, there are some simple, easy things that all of us can do while riding to make sure that our singletrack stays single.

1. Right of Way

The universally accepted right of way is for downhill riders to yield to anyone going uphill. It’s a lot easier to get going again when your wheel is pointed down the incline rather than up. To let riders pass, stop on the trail tread. Move your bike to the edge and lean your bike and self out of the way on the uphill side of the trail. This will give the other riders space to pass and won’t create any widening of the trail.

If you happen to overcome slower riders, politely let them know that you are there and wait for them to give you space to pass. Exiting the trail to go around slower riders creates braiding and widens the trail corridor.

Bicyclists must yield to all other trail users. Use the same technique described above to let equestrians and hikers/runners go by. Most importantly, make sure you smile and are friendly to all trail users.

2. Wet Trails

It’s not too often that our trails are too wet to ride, but it certainly does happen. The rule of thumb for wet trails is if you are sinking into the trail tread (the hard surface) you are doing damage to the trail and should turn around. When you sink into the tread, you are creating a rut that can stay for years especially on our clay based trails like the JEM and Bear Claw Poppy.

For puddles on otherwise dry trails, always ride through the puddle instead of going around them. By going through the middle you are not widening the trail and can help dissipate the water that has collected aiding in drying out the trail. The photo above is from Gooseberry Mesa and shows what happens when riders try to avoid water.

3. Stay on the trail

The theme to keeping singletrack single is easy, stay on the trail. Any time our tires leave the main tread we have effectively widened the trail and are essentially playing out of bounds. If you happen to accidentally come off the trail, stop and smooth out your track to ensure others don’t follow your line and to prevent future braiding.

4. Be Friendly

We are all out there for the same reasons, to enjoy the outdoors and to get a little sun on our backs. There is never a reason to not say hello and be friendly to other trail users. A simple hello or smile is all it takes.

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