Charlie takes a light hearted look at the wonderful variety of people we share the trails with.
It’s that time of year again when the clocks go forward, the sun comes out and at 10am precisely on the first sunny Sunday your peaceful and uncrowded trails will suddenly be awash with trail amateurs. Happily whizzing through singletrack will be replaced by a giant slalom event weaving around a variety of fleshy obstacles.
“Trail Amateurs at 12 O’clock!!!”
You know who I mean. Why can’t they get themselves organised. Can’t get their heads around the idea that they are not the only trail user. Can’t step to one side. Can’t say something nice and appreciate the sporting and social colour bikers bring to the countryside?
Who’s who on the trail?
Now, if you can identify the human chicanery ahead, then you can anticipate their moves and plan accordingly. Let’s get to know our amateur trail users.
These people ride giant animals and their saddles cost even more than a Brooks! You need to know these horses have bitey bits and kicking bits. But they also have feelings too, so be nice. Best bet is to slow the hell down, say hello, and carry a packet of polos. Pay the 900kg gatekeeper off with a polo and live to ride another day.
Zig Zag Cider Folk.
The local cider festival is on. It says 4% on the barrel, but that measurement was taken last summer and this apple juice is now chewy hallucinogenic apple’shine. These happy lost souls have escaped the morris men and their infernal bell’ing and prancing, and are making a break for home. They could not walk a straight line to save their lives. The best strategy here is to try and carve left/right to match the rhythm of their sway and stagger… but in the opposite direction. You go right as they go left, and you will pass with incident. Don’t speak to them as the sudden increasing of the social scene can cause them to fall over.
Similar to the Zig Zaggers, but they are packed with unpredictable moves such as going for a big love hug or making 80’s rave shapes. A good strategy is to tell them that someone has left a Roland TR-808 on the bench down there.
Vigilante Defender of Rights.
This guy isn’t going to clear the trail. Why should he? He is the self-appointed guardian of the path. He has every right to be there too. And he was walking way before a bunch of hooligans invented mountain bikes. Ignore this guy, or be really really nice. He will hate both of those options equally. Expect a grumble of “bloody cyclists… road tax…. I didn’t vote Brexit for this”.
Yeah, but not yet’ers.
Oh, I see your plan. Your despicable passive aggressive plan. Is this all you have left to live for? You are going to get out of the way, but only once I have had to come to a standstill. Smile and trackstand. Get a bell.
The Switcheroo Family.
Do you remember that kids TV game show “Run Around” with Mike Reid? A bundle of kids were asked a question, given a few answers and would then run over to an answer. Mike would then cockney at them with a growl of “Ruuuun Arooooound” and they could change their 70’s sherbert minds and would all run to a different answer. On the trail the question is “what side of the trail do you want to go?”, they make a decision, and as you get to them… yes you guessed it, they run around and swap sides. Aim for the middle with your brakes covered. Shouting “ruuun arooound” as you pass is not compulsory.
They hear you at the last moment, turn around with a terrified look on their faces, then try and run out of the way whilst looking backwards, and run into the brambles. Meanwhile you are stationary wondering if they know something you don’t. Is there a grizzly bear behind you? Get a bell, and maybe a bear bell too.
The Wide Family.
Look here, the fireroad is 20 foot wide, and you don’t need all of it. I just saw you narrow down as you passed an oncoming family. Turns out the road is wide enough for eight people. However, as soon as they passed, your family morphed sideways to consume the entire fireroad again, just as I was about to pass. Get a bell.
The Dog Walker Assassin.
Armed with a 5m long almost invisible flexi dog lead, dog one side of the trail, and owner the other. Slow down, say Hi, and maybe get yourself a quick doggy cuddle.
Who Have I Missed Out?
Every neighbourhood has its own variation of trail folk. Please tell us about your trail amateurs in the comments below. Was it Sheldon that rode through an amateur smut shoot, with a dozen other bikers, with the actress displaying herself on a fur coat?
All of these super dangerous scenarios can be solved with the new Timber! Yew Mountain Bike Bell. (Oh, I see. Charlie made me read all that just to sell me a bell. I now feel dirty, but happy).
The gentle ding a ling can be heard 200m away. Simply turn it on when you see them and then keep your hands on the grips for control. Trail awareness when you need it. Silence when you don’t. Turn that “bloody cyclists” into a cheery “hello, nice day for it”.
What’s New With The Yew Bell?
- Serviceable and rebuildable.
- A spring-loaded piston to the on/off lever for smoother shifting.
- A hinge pin in the bar clamp for easier mounting.
- Now fits 35mm bars and includes shims for standard 31.8mm and 22.2mm bars.
- The 22.2 allows you to mount it in the thumb zone near your grip.
We have only 15 bells left in stock at the time of writing this, with the next delivery many weeks away.