We live in unpredictable times and find the need to tread cautiously at every given moment. We are all looking for a reason to escape into the wilderness and increasingly a number of people are hopping on to the mountain bike to find their calling in the mountains. However, what only a handful of us realize is that the sport calls for prep much beyond your riding skills. That is where the concept of ‘etiquette’ comes in.
Etiquette is defined as “the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group.” Etiquette isn’t just about holding out your pinky when you take afternoon tea; it has practical application on the trail. Even if you develop all the skill and fitness in the world, without proper etiquette, you can be a detriment to the sport.
But why is riding etiquette so important?
- Being a good neighbor: Remember that you aren’t the only one with access to the trail. Chances are the trail has been discovered by a significant number of others and you may just be riding at the same time
- Safety first: The rules of mountain biking are written in stone mainly to keep the rider safe. As a trail rider, one must be concerned of his/her own safety and do everything in their capacity to safeguard themselves.
- Access to trail: Even if you are not concerned with your safety, trail etiquette is necessary to ensure future access to the trails and maintain the possibility to gain access to new trails. Just like so much in life, a split-second decision for a quick moment of fun can have negative long term consequences–not just for yourself, but for all your fellow bikers. Not riding when it would damage the trail, or not ruining a hiker or equestrian’s outing, is a courtesy to your fellow bikers (and yourself) as well as other trail users.
So, what rules must one follow:
- Wear proper riding gear: Finding the right riding gear is critical to your safety on the trail. While you invest in the most adaptable bike, one must also consider investing in riding and safety gear. Opting for a good brand and studying beforehand if it meets your requirements are a must. In addition to wearing a riding gear, it is important to equip your ride with high luminosity Head lights and Tail lights. We cyclists occupy a very small space on the road which makes us prone to be missed by a careless eye when the daylight isn’t enough.
- Ride open trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land.
- Take care of your body: Our body is like an engine and the fuel that keeps this engine running is food and water. Cycling is a physically demanding task especially when you plan to conquer those trails, it is important to intake good amount of calories before the ride and to keep yourself hydrated always. So keep the fuel topped up or face range anxiety.
- Be aware: In a country like India, the only thing we cannot expect to see on the road is an alien landing, so instead of living/riding on the edge always keep an open eye to your surroundings.
- Follow rules: No matter what time of the day, it is important to follow the rules of the road, well if you’re not hitting the trails!
- Plan Ahead:Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding, and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: 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.
The trail will only love you back if you show it the same level of respect and admiration. For a mountain biker, the trail is your home and there’s nothing like following some simple rules to make the experience a whole lot better.