Don’t be THAT Person, Give People Space on the Trails

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No matter how good you are, or fast, there is always going to be someone who is faster than you. All of us share a passion and enjoy mountain biking, so why potentially ruin someone else’s ride? Every single one of us has at one time been that faster or slower rider. You either catch someone up and you’re riding behind them, or you’re the one who has a rider behind you. It’s not really fun for anyone, is it?

Last weekend, the FNY Collective were running their ‘intro to Golfie’ ride with a group of women. There were about 25 riders in the group and they had a bad encounter with other riders. Aneela McKenna posted about it on her Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by MrsGoWhereScotland (@mrsgowherescotland)

Judging from the comments on the initial post, many people, especially women have had this kind of experience.

Aneela’s Post

For those who may not have access to Instagram, here is Aneela’s post.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I get asked a lot about why women need their own spaces to ride bikes and this story I’m about to tell explains one reason why.

The @the_fny_collective run these intro to the Golfie rides for those looking to progress from trail centre to off-piste riding.

There were about 25 of us in the group. We made our way towards NYNY and we separated out to give each other space to get safely down the hill.

Later did we find out that one of our group missed out on that post downhill buzz.

When we set off from the tree line on NYNY, she could hear bikes behind her and naturally assumed they were other women in the group. When she got to the bottom a group of five guys came out just after her. One of them shouted at her ‘can I make a suggestion that you pull over when you have faster riders behind you’ to which she replied ‘sorry I thought it was my friend Claire’. He then replied quite aggressively ‘would your friend Claire be coming that fast behind you, I don’t think so’.

The guy didn’t spoil our day but it really was upsetting to hear that one of our group had to endure this kind of behaviour when the whole point of the ride was to build confidence on more challenging trails.

This hasn’t been the first time. Women exchange these kinds of stories all the time – receiving comments that make them feel intimidated while on the trail.

So next time if you hear your pal say something that you think nah that wasn’t very nice, please tell them to get a grip. Yes there is a certain etiquette for racing but if you’re out in the woods just trying to get your PB on Strava, and you’re bullying people off the trail ask yourself is it really worth it, making someone feel really shitty about themselves.

Remember the trails belong to everyone so think before you speak, be kind and most of all don’t be a dick.

Aneela McKenna

Give People Space

Sometimes you come up to someone without warning. You can either choose to pull over and give them space, or ride right behind them. Most people choose the latter and are chill. No one wants to feel like they are slowing someone down, and it can be really distracting if you know someone is on your back wheel. It can also be very intimidating, especially for new riders.

Often, general trail etiquette means either the rider that perceives themselves the slowest will let the faster riders go first, or the faster rider will allow the people in front plenty of space. If you want to pull over and let people past, do it when you feel it’s safe and you’re able to do so. But there’s no rule that says you should or have to. And in the case of the above, the rider was unaware that the person behind wasn’t her friend.

FNY Collective at Golfie
FNY Collective on a recent group ride.

Just Take a Minute

We can all get a bit angry in the heat of the moment. It’s easy to rant and shout when you’re caught up and seeing red. Just like it’s very easy to say horrible things to a somewhat faceless entity online. The point is, just take a minute to be calm. There are things you say that you can’t take back.

Just be patient, give people space, and don’t be that person.

Trail Etiquette

We touched upon this briefly in our upside down bikes story, and will certainly be looking to work together to form a set of guidelines that can be communicated with trail users. Mark wrote about trail etiquette a while back, and we discussed who should be the one to give way. As a general rule, there are universal things that we all come to know and understand about riding, sadly, some people think they are above that. Some people consider themselves immune, and etiquette is a word lost on them.

Who Should Give Way Poll Results

Downhill gives way to uphill rider409 Votes
Uphill gives way to downhill rider247 Votes
Who should give way?

It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure we look after the places we ride and act in a way that won’t have a negative impact on other people.

Shouting “Rider”

It seems there is a mixed view on this one. Some people think shouting rider should be used only in races. Others believe if you shout rider it means the rider in front should move to allow you to pass. Here is one comment that has since been deleted from Aneela’s post. We have removed the name from the comment.

Deleted comment
What does shouting Rider mean to you?

Strava Isn’t The Problem. People are.

Yes, there is a certain etiquette for racing but if you’re out in the woods just trying to get your PB on Strava, and you’re bullying people off the trail ask yourself is it really worth it, making someone feel really shitty about themselves.

Aneela McKenna

As Aneela says in her post, the trails are for everyone. So next time you ride take a moment to consider whether your actions mean someone has had a bad time. Strava is a great training tool but the issue is the person using it, not the app itself. Don’t let Strava or any other excuse be the reason you cause someone to have a bad day on their bike.


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Comments (22)

    What an absolute bell-end that guy was! There’s just no need for behaviour like that. To my mind, it’s no different to giving way to horses or walkers on mixed-used trails. So you had to stop or slow down; so what? Just be grateful you’re out riding your bike. It makes my blood boil.

    “Rider!” really f_s me off to be honest. How about “morning/afternoon/evening, can I get past when you’re ready mate?”.

    The weekend warriors who think they’re in the WC Downhill finals, when in fact they’re riding down a hill in Surrey/Derbyshire/(insert Scottish county here, sorry!) need to just get a grip.

    “Remember the trails belong to everyone so think before you speak, be kind and most of all don’t be a dick.” – ‘zackly.

    yep. total knob end.

    Shouting “Rider!!!” makes you sound like a buffoon. Just slow down a bit and if the rider in front doesn’t find a suitable place to pull over (give them time..) then a polite “excuse me” followed by “thanks” if you simply MUST get past is the way to do it.

    What a tube. Karma will get him.

    There should be some sort of exam and personality assessment before your allowed to be out on the trails.

    @mtbfix – That should apply to some people before they are allowed to leave the house or get a passport or go abroad 🙂

    Sounds like a complete bunch of dicks.

    My theory is that if you want to go to a trail centre and bot have to keep stopping for others then you should probably find a time off peak to do it when the car park is empty and no one has to put up with you. Like early in the morning or late at night.

    Trails are for everyone, don’t be a dick.

    That bloke was a first class merchant banker.

    As for ‘Rider’ it’s fine in race settings but out on the trail just ask nicely.

    1st rule of life….

    Anyone ever attended a race briefing and been told that the slower rider has to get out of the way? In my experience, race briefings always make the point that it’s down to the faster rider to find a *safe* way past the slower rider. And so it should be. Shouting “Rider”, even under racing conditions, is basically the faster rider shifting the responsibility to find a safe way past onto the slower rider – basically demanding that the slower rider give way. By all means call “on your right” or “on your left” if you’ve spotted a halfway sensible way past, but please, only where there’s actually space for you to get past without forcing someone off the trails.

    Bells cause smiles, make friends, create safety and preserve trail access.

    Hmm the guy does sounds pretty rude but I’m not convinced taking a group of 25 relatively inexperienced riders on technical singletrack away from a trail centre is really that great a plan TBH.

    I’m an MTB Coach and Guide, I’ve competed in events all across the UK and it has always been that rider behind is responsible for the rider in front. We discuss trail etiquette at our sessions and explain this to everyone, the rider in front has no idea of the speed or skill level of the rider behind, it is up to that rider to pass when it is safe to do so, if not then their skill level and manners are very lacking. Shouting ‘Rider’ is pointless as the majority of riders do not understand what it means in the first instance. We usually call out passing on ‘left’ or ‘right’ when it is safe to do so, but as experience has shown, folk only hear the ‘left’ or ‘right’ and go that way, leading to the odd mishap…we live and learn.
    Being polite costs nowt and ruining someone’s day to make a point is just being a dick.

    @hopkinsgm
    “Shouting “Rider”, even under racing conditions, is basically the faster rider shifting the responsibility to find a safe way past onto the slower rider – basically demanding that the slower rider give way”

    it’s not though, it’s just letting the slower rider know your there and want to pass. the slower rider is meant to give way to faster riders as much as the faster riders should pass safely. it’s much easyer for the rider infront to spot somewhere to let the pass happen that minimizes time loss for both, and i’m saying this as someone who is on both sides of slower/faster.

    out of racing i would politely ask to pass or stop for a short while to get space

    Completely agree, the blokes behaviour is not the way to go. But also agree with grum….sending 25 people down the same trail at once…blimey.

    Twenty five!
    My first thoughts were “Twenty five”!!

    Yes, the guy sounds like a dick. He could have just pulled over and waited if he was so desperate to set a new world record…. but twenty five!!

    Twenty Five all separated out will appear to be a thoughtless, rolling roadblock to some.

    Can’t you run smaller groups? Your riders will learn more quickly. I bet some of the dicks would be happy to pass on their mega-skills; maybe recruit a few if they think they’re so good?

    I’ve had people buzz my rear tyre on trails recently,I was going uphill on technical ground and there was no real place to stop or pass. I was on my clockwork bike, they ebikes, so I was probably slowing them down, but what should I do? I’ve also had someone overtake me and almost plough into the back of my little boy who was riding in front of me. I shouted, he slammed on, stopped, got off his bike and tried to start a fight (angry Scotsman) because, somehow, we were in the wrong.

    Having women safe places to ride won’t fix this, it’ll just displace it. You need to solve the dipstick problem…

    ” In my experience, race briefings always make the point that it’s down to the faster rider to find a *safe* way past the slower rider. ”

    I remember, the one time I did Mountain Mayhem, the actually-good, Top10-type riders would just come past you with a nice “on your right/left mate, cheers”, it was the try-hards battling for 157th place that would yell “RIDER!!!” and expect you to get out of their way. I didn’t, naturally, unless they asked nicely.

    Like IHN, I’ve used, “coming through on your right/left” before which I also learned from Mayhem.

    First and foremost the male rider was a dick. You could maybe let his first comment slide, but his second comment just shows him to be an intolerant prick.

    I’m presuming that some riders had to be at least fairly competent in the FNY Collective group so there’s probably 10+ inexperienced riders all riding together, one after another, that is as someone mentioned earlier a rolling road block and therefore really shitty trail etiquette as well though.

    Mentioned on the forum when this happened to me on a blue trail – taking some newby riders out. I’m at the back checking no-one crashes, drops off. Bloke comes behind starts whinging we’re going too slow, get a move on etc. Unfortunately for him, I don’t take any shit, so he got told to ride the red trail and when we got to a gap in the trail I called to the lads to move over for the utter dick behind us. When he saw the large teenage rugby players I was riding with, he went faster than he’d ever thought possible. Lol. Was exactly the sort of moron who would whinge at women riders too. Dicks are everywhere. Some are mountain bikers unfortunately.

    In relation to some of the comments above, yes 25 is a big group, but how small should groups of inexperienced riders be? If slower riders are constantly stopping to let faster ones past then that ruins their ride as much as the other way round.
    Also very much agree that the top racers are extremely courteous at getting past slower riders and it’s definitely the mid pack warriors that get shouty.

    “I’ve competed in events all across the UK and it has always been that rider behind is responsible for the rider in front.”
    XC events? Gravity time trial type races (which is proably a more apt comparison based on the trail in question) the procedure is to shout rider and the person in front gets out the way as soon as safe to do so. As I’m slow AF I’m only catching people who have crashed/cacked up in some way, so they are usually very obliging, often without the need for shouting rider at all. I happily get out the way for anyone who catches me.

    The above only applies to racing, where the person in front is a willing participant though.

    A polite ask to pass is appropriate, or possibly find a suitable stopping place to let the group get clear of you.

    Final thought, although it in no way excuses the bloke: 25 people! I’ve sworn off large group rides for this very reason.

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