The Strava Effect - or how to really make other trail users hate us...

Not every ride is a race and unless there is a number on your bike, it's a trail not a course! Nick and I were enjoying a perfectly quiet climb up the Chutes - taking that trail since it was 12:30 and usually no traffic up or down. We were just pedaling along, enjoying life on two wheels. Then we nearly got run over. Some dude came flying around one of the blind corners, completely out of control and riding way too fast. He almost ran into to Nick and would have run me over had I been riding alone. He sputtered for a little, got out that two more riders were behind him and pushed his bike around us just as his friend also came skidding down the trail. As he passed me, I politely but pointedly said "Next time, how about you learn to ride in control?" I have no clue what the dude said next, but it wasn't polite! Rude enough that Nick whipped his bike around and went flying down the trail after them. I followed a few seconds later. Nick had caught them just before the Chutes merges with the road and was having some words about safety, control and multi use trails. The kids kept saying they were in control of their bikes, we were in the way on the course and they didn't see us coming up. Not once did they realize the implications of their lack of control or courtesy to other trail users.

So few observations...
1. The Chutes (and every other "segment" in Stratton Open Space) is a multi-use, open trail. There are other users - hikers, the occasional horse, dogs and other mountain bikers. We as cyclists are supposed to yield to other users, not run them over. It's great fun to go flying down the chutes, but we also need to be aware someone might be coming up and be able to stop - in control of the bike.

2. Speaking of those other users - a bike flying down the Chutes - or any other trail - can cause some serious damage to an adult hiker, a small child or even a dog. It's not their responsibility to alert you their are on the trail - it's your job as a rider to anticipate that there will be other users around at all hours.

3. Speed is good, sure. But riding within your ability level is even better. That's the mark of true mountain biker, no careening around the corners, bouncing off the trails. Almost running over someone, then stating that you didn't see them so it's not your fault isn't riding within your ability level.

4. It's not a course. No one really cares how fast you can ride down the trail. In fact, riding so out of control that you can't stop until five feet after the person you almost hit is a good way for mountain bikers of all abilities to lose access. It only takes once incident and all riders are branded as out of control jackasses. One bad encounter can erase 20 prior episodes where the riders were polite and everyone left the scene happy. We love our trails - and it's people like the boys we met today that jeopardize our ability to ride where we love.


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