Stop Riding in Big Groups
Fully Rigid, 3/24/22
Pedaling along on a beautiful blue sky morning in southern California, I rounded a turn and connected into another trail and lo’ and behold, the trail was blocked by a group of eight fellow mountain bikers. I squeezed through and while doing so, I heard the following said with a chuckle of guilt:
We stopped on the trail on purpose to slow you down.
Get off my lawn/get off the trail, was my unspoken thought. I’ve written about this in other spaces and have talked with friends about it. Now I’m taking it one step farther.
Is it time to stop planning big group rides? Should we really have meet me rides anymore? I mean, if more and more people are biking on trails and everyone has a computer in their pocket, doesn’t setting up such rides likely mean that more and more people will show up? And besides, with more and more people riding bikes, can’t people make friends in other ways (there’s more of us which probably means there’s more ways to meet people) and ride with a few other people instead of a bunch of people?
Let’s keep going. As mountain bikers, if we come upon a large group of hikers or horseback riders, we probably internally feel a little disdain in those moments. What do you think they feel when they see a group of mountain bikers on the trail? I’ve been out in San Diego’s Laguna mountains and have seen group/meet me rides that reach 50+ riders turning cranks at a casual pace in one mass group on the primary trail system. Is this how we want to promote what we do/who we are?
As part of future trail etiquette guides and/or rules of the trail, I suggest the following:
1. No more use of social media/group-meet-me apps to plan rides. Let people meet other riders the old fashioned way: say hi and talk to people.
2. If you’re going to ride with friends, keep your group number low, let’s say somewhere around 5-6 people. More than that, I’d argue, could cause trail user conflict with other groups.
3. When you’re on the trail with your user group, whether fist-bumping your collective bad-assed-ness or catching your breath after a climb since you don’t ride e-bikes, get off the damn trail or get to the side of the trail when you’re not moving. (And turn off your music.)
My coffee cup is empty. Time for a refill. That’s my 5:30 in the morning rant for this round of Fully Rigid, which isn’t really correct as a way to describe a mountain bike, as a reminder.
Why can’t we all just get along?!
Fully Rigid is a monthly column by James Murren about Mountain Biking Issues within the Mountain Biking Community.