A Guide to Mountain Bike Etiquette
While mountain biking may seem like an activity where you can really cast off the rules and regulations involved with road cycling, there is still an unspoken etiquette that should be observed at all times. This ensures that mountain bikers do not give a bad name to the sport, and that the trails remain open.
Ride only on open trails
Some mountain bikers believe that in order to stay true to the spirit of the sport, you have to steer clear of established trails and choose your own routes around the hills and forests. However, doing this can be quite dangerous, and it is often illegal to go mountain biking round non-designated trails. Furthermore, many trails that would seem to be ideally suited to mountain biking contain fragile ecosystems that cannot withstand the onslaught of mountain bikes. Therefore, you should only ride on trails that are officially designated as mountain bike trails.
Leave no trace
The beautiful forest environment wouldn’t stay beautiful for long if it was all torn up by tyre marks and covered with litter. As a mountain biker, it is your responsibility to ensure that you leave the trails exactly as you found them. Obviously, dropping litter is a no-no, but you might also want to think about the destructive effect your biking can have on a day when it is damp underfoot. In dry conditions, mountain bikes make little or no impact on the condition of them trails, but in the wet, they can really mess them up. Therefore, if it looks like raining heavily, you might want to leave your bike at home.
Get to know your mountain bike
A mountain bike trail is no place to become accustomed to the features and quirks of your bicycle. Keep your equipment well maintained, and get to know how to use all the gears and brakes on your bike before you take to the trail, so that you will be in full control when you are out there. When climbing hills, keep your weight forward, and when you are descending, keep your weight back to improve your stability. You will be riding standing up most of the time, so you should keep your seat low down and out of the way, especially on bumpy rides. Keep a reasonable distance between yourself and any cyclists in front of you, and be prepared to walk whenever it is necessary.