Shared trails

Something interesting and a little scary happened while we were riding down  (counter clockwise) Palmer Trail the other day. I know that most of the time the riders go up, looking for the fun pay off of Section 16 and the hikers like getting the steep hill over with and having a gentle downhill. Well, given the goal of that ride, we were going in the same direction as the hikers. Since we knew that there would be other users on the trails and it's harder to go the same direction, we were moving rather slowly down hill. I think at one point, I could have run down hill faster then we were riding! We met a few hikers, slowed to pass them and were really polite. Then a couple got annoyed when Nick said hello - they stepped to the side and let us pass, but glared at me when I said last one, thank you. They also hollered after me - "watch out for our dog!" So we were being very aware of the trail.

Then the scary encounter. Nick, in the lead as usual, comes up to another hiker. Says "Hello, riders back," The hiker turns around, walks back UP the trail towards Nick and grabs his wrist with both hands. Huh? Why would you grab someone's wrist without provocation, especially when that person is in motion? Was he trying to get Nick to wipe out? And the fact that he felt comfortable enough doing that indicates to me that he's done that to other trail users. When I rolled up a few seconds later, the hiker was standing in the middle of the trail, his hand still on Nick's bars, lecturing him about how we are supposed to yield to hikers and that we were riding too fast for the trail.... Yes, we know we yield to hikers - but we still have to pass you some how, we're going in the same direction! Nick was doing a good job of keeping his temper, but he was getting irate. And the hiker still had his hand on Nick's bars, physically preventing us from passing him.

As soon as the couple we'd just passed showed up, he let go of Nick's bars. Now all of a sudden it was two bikers pissed at one older hiker for no reason. And of course, the hiker is being super calm and nice now that the other hikers are present, a far cry from the aggressive and belligerent front he'd had before. So the couple starts in on us, saying how reckless we were riding and that we were riding much to fast for that trail. It was too much. Nick said a few to many swear words (I was not saying anything because I really would have lost my temper) and finished with "Where your leash for your damn dog?" (which we still hadn't seen) We rode off, shaken by the encounter. I have to wonder - why did that hiker feel like he could physically stop us like that? And if he was alright doing that to Nick, what would he have done if I'd been riding alone?

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