Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pick on someone your own size, stop slaying beginner trails

Arguments about whether the "uphill rider has the right of way" are pretty silly if you think a little deeper about it. Downhill riders argue that they don't want their flow interrupted and that the uphill climbing rider could use a break. I believe the reason for the rule is that it is harder for the climbing rider to restart after stopping. In reality, the climbing rider can likely hear the descending rider and gets out of the way. The rule keeps the descending rider aware that they might have to stop and yield, just as they would for other trail users.

For a trail to be climbable, it must not be too steep or sustained. It must be fairly smooth and devoid of overly challenging rocks or roots. Hardly rad enough to claim an uninterrupted descent. If you don't want to yield to climbing riders, how about riding a trail that is un-climbeable?

Which brings me to another discussion: You could accuse IMBA trailbuilding guidelines of sanitizing trails, but one result of their implementation is a widespread increase in beginner singletrack that is fun for a range of skill levels and introduces new riders to the sport in a way that doubletrack never could. Hordes of people unload their bikes off their Kuat racks attached to their Subarus to ride these trails. The grade of these trails is also within the possibilities of climbing. Surely a nervous beginner should have no problem yielding to a climbing rider? And what a good place to introduce them to that etiquette.

But these trails have also been taken over by more advanced riders. I can imagine them being fun at speed a couple of times, but to continuously ride these trails, given the other options available, one must be uninspired. Maybe you are not feeling at the top of your game. Maybe you don't want crash. Maybe you don't want to beat up your bike. But going at speeds at which clipping a pedal or a tree would be catastrophic on a trail shared with beginner and climbing riders is not responsible. It intimidates beginners on trails that are purpose built for them. Pick on a trail your own skill level.

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