Are massive back country rides with big numbers of unknown riders sensible?

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  • Are massive back country rides with big numbers of unknown riders sensible?
  • Premier Icon snowslave
    Subscriber

    Think about the big STW shouts now occurring, and consider the following:

    Who knows the skills/fitness of the riders coming? Or whether the ride leader has selected a safe/sensible route with bail outs that matches the skills of the riders? Or whether a slow rider might get lost or injured and not be missed by the others? And who’s got appropriate first aid skills, or leadership qualifications per se? Who’s carrying insurance? What if some unfit dood turns up on a supermarket bike? what if someone is wearing lycra?

    Last month was Rivington, currently the centre of controversy, with land owners under pressure to close the area to mountain bikes. Appreciate we have a right to be there at the moment, but is hitting it with such big numbers on a Sunday sensible?

    This month, the Howgills. There’s a generally enthusiastic friendly vibe on the thread which is great, but it might give the impression this is a nice ride in the country. Ermmm, you’d struggle to find a more remote area of England. Proper backcountry territory, few bail outs, if rider or bike breaks, they’re potentially in very serious trouble, and at that point their problem becomes a shared problem, whether the other riders like it or not. If you’re the injured person – how do you know the other riders are going to make the right decisions to get you sorted out? If you’re completely in control and carrying all the right kit, bikes in good nick etc, how do you know some nutter is not going to turn up and ride beyond their capabilities, injure themselves and leave you with a liability to fix in the middle of nowhere?

    If I were a lawyer employed to get some dosh for someone injured badly as a result of one of these rides, there’s some interesting liability issues here presumably….

    All of this is pretty manageable where there’s a small well established group of responsible riders taking on 1 or 2 newbies on a ride, but a mass meet up where the above all applies is not the same game surely?

    Just wondering in light of all this – isn’t it more sensible to pick trail centres for these rides?

    [ducks for cover at this point]

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    I think at some point there has to be a general willingness on the part of participants to have a bit of responsibility to take care of themselves TBH. I’m helping with a ride (organised on here) and it’s something I’ve got experience doing. Now, it’ll be in the nice cuddly Chilterns, so not hugely dangerous, but we’ll take it steady, have lots of stops, and look after any-one who’s not having a great day. It is, after all, a cycle round the countryside, not a trek across the Himalayas, no?

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    Nice one you’ve just scared the crap out of anyone thinking of starting the next ride thread πŸ™‚ Guess we are going to have to put disclaimers up. Generally there are warning about how long, steep and technical the rides are and we wait for slower riders, it’s not a race. The first aid thing would be the same if you were out with your mates unless you know doctors and nurses i.e. they may or may not know how to deal with an incident. I dont think we should worry too much about it, it’s not a club there are no designated leaders just people who know the route – or not as the case may be πŸ˜‰

    The trail centre ride is a non starter I reckon, yes we’re out on a social ride but I reckon a big part of it (certainly for me) is getting to ride new routes that I may not otherwise try, anyone can roll upto a trail centre and do the marked route.

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    If I set out on a ride by myself, and came across someone stranded/injured/short of food/broken bike or whatever, that would inevitably become my problem anyway. I’m not going to come across an injured rider and not stop for them, so it doesn’t really matter whether we set out together or not. I pack on the basis that I can look after myself with a bit of a buffer.

    Equally, if I am riding by myself and get into serious trouble that I can’t get myself out of I am dependant on people I don’t know helping me out.

    Sue me to the eyeballs if you see fit and see where it gets you – I have almost nothing beyond my questionable talents :o)

    I think the original statement is a bunch of arse. I don’t even see how you can suggest the Howgills are remote unless 3 miles from the nearest road is considered to be wilderness. Yes, some of the terrain is testing, but as I proved last weekend one can fall badly outside one’s house. Let’s not nanny ourselves out of having fun!

    but it might give the impression this is a nice ride in the country.

    did anyone get or give this impression ? It’s a fantastic ride in the country, with plenty of effort required and numerous potential hazards, as a glance at the photographs of the area would show

    isn’t it more sensible to pick trail centres for these rides?

    include me out πŸ™

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    Let’s not nanny ourselves out of having fun!

    Well said that man.

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    Let’s not nanny ourselves out of having fun!

    Kind of what I was trying to say.
    Succinct soundbites are appreciated SFB but shouldn’t you be busy uploading pictures?
    πŸ™‚

    aP
    Member

    I’d suggest that trail centre riding carries an almost inevitable likelihood of falling off, breaking things or damaging bikes as opposed to real world trails where that hardly seems to happen in my experience.
    Makes note to not invite/ allow snowslave out on any rides as it’ll almost inevitably end up in litigation.

    Bunnyhop
    Member

    As a volunteer walk leader, I have to assess members of my group, this takes time, as each walk takes place you get to know the people who are regulars, the walks are always the same milage and time, the only difference being terrain.

    I understand that leading a ride would be completely different. My personal feelings are that we as adults must take total responsibitly for ourselves, in most cases anyway a friend usually comes along and looks out for you.
    As long as the terrain, milage and type of ride it’s aimed at is explained I don’t see a problem.
    Someone counts evryone out and at break stops someone counts everyone in.
    I think they are a great idea and a way to make new friends and end up finding people to ride with in the future, who are your own ability.
    Long may they continue.

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    I think if the organiser makes the route clear beforehand you’ve got nothing to worry about really. Everyone has a responsibility to see that they’re up to the route and everyone knows what to expect. A mass meet also 99% certain ensures that they’ll be a real mix of ability, so everyone is usually comfortable at their own level.

    grumm
    Member

    Ermmm, you’d struggle to find a more remote area of England. Proper backcountry territory, few bail outs, if rider or bike breaks, they’re potentially in very serious trouble

    Bollocks.

    The BMC have a standard warning/disclaimer about climbing which should equally apply to biking really:

    The BMC recognises that climbing and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.

    If anyone can’t accept that then they should stay at home basically.

    Premier Icon lowey
    Subscriber

    must …. resist….. posting…… reply……

    must….

    resist…

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    lowey – Member
    must …. resist….. posting…… reply……

    must….

    resist…

    **** that one up then…

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    A variant of that BMC warning has started appearing on the counter in my local branch of Cotswold Outdoor.

    The idea that they are concerned that the simple act of selling me a new baselayer means that I might sue them if I fall down a crevasse is amazing.

    Junkyard
    Member

    utter tosh sometimes we even do a head count you know on these rides H & S is our prime concern!!!
    OK we rely on the fact that adults have turned up aware of what a mountain is and what it may contain and with the basic skills to get themselves round /over and back on their own within the group. As what GRUMM says.
    We have had someone bail at them on all the rides at some point and have ensured they can get home without dying.
    A number were advised not to ride this route on fitness grounds.
    Not sure how you would sue us or why ? Would you sue your buddies if you were riding together (and crashed)if someone sent you a text inviting you?
    First aid is probably a good point though but equally good for all riders. How many of us are qualified?
    We always wait for the slowest rider. Sometimes they even get arest to.

    Go to a trail centre thanks but NO.

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    If you’re completely in control and carrying all the right kit, bikes in good nick etc,

    Got to admit I’ve needed faff stops the last few rides 😳 mind you, it could have been worse…

    hows the car lowey?

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    The idea that they are concerned that the simple act of selling me a new baselayer means that I might sue them if I fall down a crevasse is amazing.

    This kind of thing is surely just some H&S bod at head office trying to justify is pay though isn’t it? No one in their right mind thinks that it might be a shop’s fault for selling outdoor equipment?!?. Or have we really become that divorced from any aspect of personal responsibility?

    scruff
    Member

    We did an STW ride years back and thought about 10 might turn up, it was probaly well over 50 so we split into 3, we tried herding everyone round I dont think we lost anyone but the opinion that some falling off and it being my fault wasnt even a thought. You ride, you fall off it happens. We did a smaller lower key one after and a collar bone got broken, he got taken to the hospital by a stranger and we made sure he was Ok. He didnt sue us, I only bumped into him a few weeks back he didnt have a solicitor in tow.
    I truly hate the nanny state and having to be wary of liability etc, ffs its a bike ride not a festival of capital torture and solicitors fees.

    I vaguely recall some research quoted at an IMBA conference I attended. The gist was that the more experienced people are at a sport, the more self-reliant they are, and the less likely they are to sue you.

    I would imagine that most of the beginners visiting this forum are put off pretty rapidly by all the gibber about tyres and the general demographic is people who are more clued up than average (or at least fancy themselves as such). So the risk of getting sued, which is minimal anyway, is diminished even further.

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    No one in their right mind thinks that it might be a shop’s fault for selling outdoor equipment?

    I think it’s more what solicitors reckon they can get away with than what we (Joe P) think.

    mrsflash
    Member

    surely we are all adults and can take responsibility for ourselves? You know what level you are at and if the route/distance/terrain is explained beforehand you should know if you’re up to it or not.

    soobalias
    Member

    for those of you thinking, its all ok.

    its not, most forums come across this problem eventually and invites on open access forums have to be stopped.

    qualified mtb guides, first aiders, insurance – once you make it public, you have to have the essentials covered.

    anyone want to bring their kid to a forum ride? is 15yo a kid?
    are those in STW towers aware of the risks?
    i thought of this way back, but kept my mouth shut…..

    mods delete this thread.

    grumm
    Member

    But surely it’s just something people can turn up to if they want, you are not offering them any kind of service or guarantees of anything.

    Could you stop someone from coming on the ride if you didn’t think they were well enough equipped? How would you do that?

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    (I am not a lawyer with relevant expertise in this field but) can someone explain to me why it is a problem? My way of coming at this is to assume it’s a negligence issue. In which case wouldn’t we argue that no-one assumed a duty of care towards anyone by suggesting a group of adults met to ride their bicycles together. No-one having any duty then there cannot be a breach in failing to have qualifications, first aid supplies etc.

    If that’s definitely wrong, or there’s more to the issue than tort law then could someone (soob?) actually point us to it in detail. Otherwise I’m inclined to think that this is just part of the chilling effect of H&S/litigation paranoia, and right-thinking people should ignore it.

    Junkyard
    Member

    once you make it public, you have to have the essentials covered

    is it public
    Has it been advertised in the local press for all abilities?
    Are we a legal entity with H & S responsibilities?
    If it makes you feel beeter I can do a Risk Assesment for the next ride(it wont be a great read but i have done them for educational visits.. it would be generic andcover all rides!!!) and get everyone to sign a consent form stating we have no insurance etc
    Seems like overkill to me though and more of the nanny state and worrying about what mighht happen.
    Again who exactly would you sue and for what?

    IanMunro
    Member

    I have some sympathy with the OP’s post. I can think of times before when I’ve organised the odd ride and made overly optimistic assumptions about other people’s common sense.
    Eg. Stating prior to a ride that it’s going to be a long ride and it doesn’t go past any food stops, then having people turn up with a single water bottle and no food, who an hour later start asking where the pub stop is. When reminded about being told that there was no place for food or drink, replying that they thought I didn’t really mean it.

    But yes I also agree very much with the sentiment let’s not nanny ourselves out of having fun.

    aracer
    Member

    I don’t even see how you can suggest the Howgills are remote unless 3 miles from the nearest road is considered to be wilderness.

    When we lost some boats on a kayak trip in NZ we were only about that far from a road, and I have to say it felt very remote at the time! Not saying the Howgills are like that, but even up there, getting to the nearest road isn’t necessarily that straightforward. Is far too glib to state that distance to a road means it’s not remote.

    are those in STW towers aware of the risks?

    I would say ST are notable by their absence. I’ve seen no editorial involvement (possibly intentionally) in any of these nominally STW rides

    can someone explain to me why it is a problem?

    The problem isn’t the law, I’m sure anyone who hurt themselves on an informal forum ride and then tried to sue to organiser would be given short shrift. It’s the fact that you can’t stop people from suing you, particularly with innovations like legal expenses insurance. The potential risk is catastrophic, even relatively minor injuries can require compensation far in excess of most people’s financial resources, and this leads people to engage in ridiculous arse-covering exercises like the notices in the outdoor shop mentioned above.

    The thing is, we all run the risk, all the time, that someone will hold us responsible for something that’s happened to them, and have the money, resources and blinkeredness to really make our lives a misery. It’s the reason for motor insurance for starters. The reality though is that it’s a very remote possibility. Can anyone on here cite an example of a forum member being held liable for an accident someone suffered on a semi-organised ride?

    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    I think (barring a decent technical answer from someone) that that’s where I come out too Mr_A. If that’s correct, then the sfb response, broadly “I started out with nothing, and I’ve still got most of it left, so sue me if you can be bothered” is the right one.

    That said, I am far too anti-social to set about organising a ride myself, so it’s easy for me to say. πŸ™‚

    DrP
    Member

    Seeing as this forum resparked my riding carreer, I’m suing you all….

    Please send me Β£50 each to my paypal (add in profile) to settle out of court.

    Thanks

    DrP

    I’d also add that due to the Occupiers Liability Act, the chances are that if someone hurts themselves on a ride you organised they will be looking to sue the landowner, not you, as they will have a far better chance* of actually getting something out of them.

    *Relatively speaking. Think of a charcoal briquette in hell, rather than a snowball.

    Premier Icon lowey
    Subscriber
    Premier Icon BigDummy
    Subscriber

    Mr_A, it’s possible to imagine an OLA claim having legs in some circumstances, but aren’t the risks of group rides more to do with whether there ought to be some form of organisation? OLA would get you some way perhaps if you’d stacked on a trail obstacle and hurt yourself, but the risks of group ride litigation are going to be

    – failure to look after casualties adequately
    – injuries/illness caused by getting lost
    – exacerbated injuries caused by no-one having first-aid training/inability to call a helicopter/incompetent moving of casualties
    – failing to warn of hazards

    that sort of thing. To make those run you’re going to be looking at a negligence (or some statutory claim) against the supposed organiser. I can’t think, say, suing the Duke of Buccleugh because you got lost on one of his mountains and got frostbite, is going to work under OLA.

    uplink
    Member

    Do massive pub crawls face the same litigious risks?

    I’ve been on a few of those where people have been injured/locked up/embarrassed – some times all in the same situation

    So, my mate took me to Dalby last Saturday,
    I fell off,
    So I can sue him cos it’s his fault ?

    ERR NO !

    He said , I’m going, you can tag along if you like.

    I went cos it sounded like fun ( it was )

    I fell off … my own stupid fault … laugh it off and get on with life…

    imho … we need a return to the values of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY[u] .

    BD, as usual you are dropping the knowledge like Galileo dropped the orange.

    However in all but one of the above scenarios there is an initial spang, presumably caused in part by some feature of the landscape, and as a result your canny lawyer is likely to think “Aha, let’s sue a wealthy landowner who doesn’t maintain his paths properly, instead of an impecunious autistic computer programmer who was too busy taking photos and giggling to come to their aid”. πŸ™‚

    Uplink, certainly one important parallel with the pub crawl is that people who hurt themselves are generally too embarassed to make a court case out of it.

    uplink
    Member

    Uplink, certainly one important parallel with the pub crawl is that people who hurt themselves are generally too embarassed to make a court case out of it

    I think the court case is often made for you, although not as a claimant, more the defendant πŸ˜‰

    instead of an impecunious autistic computer programmer who was too busy taking photos and giggling to come to their aid

    I think he means me :o)

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