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We're excited to have you join our group mountain bike rides.  Riding off road can be fun and exciting; even more so if you keep a few general things in mind when we hit the trails.  These rules of the trail will help protect you and other riders, preserve the trails and make the riding experience more pleasant for yourself and anyone else out using the trails.

1. Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures.  Do not trespass on private land.  Be aware which trails are and are not bicycle friendly.

2. Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you.  Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones.  When the trail is soft, consider other riding options.  This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones.  Don't cut switchbacks.  Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.

3. Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk.  Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.

4. Yield Appropriately:  Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming - a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods.  Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners.  Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorizes trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel.  Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.

5. Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or loud noise.  Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you.  When passing horses use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain).  Disturbing wildlife is a serious offense.  

6. Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding, and prepare accordingly.  Keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.  

Additional Guidelines:

Riding uphill is hard: that’s why the general rule is for the downhill rider to yield. After all, gravity’s going to get him going again pretty quick. However, if I’m riding uphill and I see a rider coming down who’s really in the flow, I may choose to not interrupt that flow and yield myself. Besides, it gives me a chance to catch my breath.

Frequently, hikers will step off trail to allow bikers to pass. This is not the time to get off the bike and inform them that they need not yield. Some may not know the “rule,” yet others may simply wish to not disturb the biker’s flow and, unfortunately, some are just plain afraid of bikers. In the case a hiker yields the trail, a “thank you” goes a long way. Although the hiker has yielded the trail, you should still slow down, almost to walking pace. Not only does this minimize the disturbance to the hiker who has yielded, it gives you time to extend that “thank you,” and maybe even follow it up with a “have a great hike!” While some hikers are obsessively predisposed with hatred for cyclists, most truly appreciate this gesture.

When riding with a group, be aware of how many are behind you. As you pass a hiker, say “three more,” or whatever the appropriate number is. This gives the hiker (or other biker) situational awareness: it can be disturbing to step back out on the trail only to have more bikes whiz by. When riding alone, a “just me” will suffice to let the other trail user know the trail is once again clear.

Finally, many trails have a local flavor. Some trails may not be marked as uni-directional, but they have evolved into such over time by those who use them most. A little local knowledge also goes a long way. Take the time to research trails; reading reviews here on Singletracks often yields some good hints as to how to get the most out of your ride. Take the time to talk to the locals if you’re not familiar with a trail. I find most locals love to share their knowledge: they’re rightfully proud of their trails and want you to be impressed with them as well.

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