Recently, I was out on a beautiful morning hike in the woods in a place with great mountain biking trails that I love to ride. It was the type of quiet morning where the air is cool, you can hear birds and other wildlife around, air is fresh, and you end up encountering a lot of other people enjoying the trails on foot, often walking dogs and on bikes. Everyone returns a hello, hikers and cyclists exchange pleasantries and courteously pass each other, sometimes even getting off the trail to let others pass.
When mountain bikes are coming, you can usually hear them enough in advance to get out of the way. The smarter and more conscientious riders use trail bells to help ensure even more safety between the mix of trail users.
Suddenly, the morning calm was broken when a guy on a gravel bike came flying down the main trail—no bell, no warning. Luckily, my friends and I heard him just in time, but since the skinny tires used on gravel bikes have a narrower contact patch, they are much quieter than the wider tires of a mountain bike.
The guy flew past us doing Mach 10 and almost ran over two people walking their dogs that we had just passed. There was some skidding, followed by an exchange of verbal vitriol and venom that was really uncalled for. The cyclist initiated all of it, and it seemed he was trying to earn his KOM on Strava or some other PR, and was really indignant that someone slowed him down.
“I get that Strava is a really good tool for training.
That’s all fine, but it needs to be something to make you better as an
athlete without making you worse as a person.Don’t be that guy.”
I know there are concerns with trail access by the mountain biking community. I’m extremely sensitive to it, as I like to ride those trails too. But, I’ve seen more damage done by someone on a traditional bike who is more concerned with their speed, timing and enjoyment than respecting others’ rights to enjoy those places as well. It’s not most people, but it is those few who do things like that who will end up causing more tension, disconnect and dislike among our fellow outdoor enthusiasts when it comes to trail access.
Don’t be that guy.
I was at an industry event recently, and one of the presenters jokingly stated how much better everyone’s Strava time would be if they used his product. He was kidding, but one of the things about that joke pointed to the fact that everyone in the room uses Strava, and we’re all a competitive bunch.
I use Strava, though not for any sort of training purpose. I use it to record rides, using the data for reviews to help assess the performance of bikes, always marking them as e-bike rides and usually keeping them private. I get that Strava is a really good tool for training. That’s all fine, but it needs to be something to make you better as an athlete without making you worse as a person.
There’s a lot of talk about trail etiquette, and much of that stems from the fact that we all really want to get along and enjoy these great places. Los Angeles is home to over 18 million people, and there are trails in the local mountains where you can easily find respite from the urban sprawl. Sometimes you’ll only see a handful of people or less on a given trail. I think that’s why people are friendlier there, for the most part.
You get a sense of that from our interview with Troy Lee (page 84). Before his days as a worldwide fashion icon, Troy was a professional motocross racer. He has ridden one form of two wheels for almost his entire life. Troy loves riding and he loves speed, and now he is a huge believer in electric bikes, and you’ll often find him out on his custom-painted Specialized Levo several times a week, even with his very full workload.
Most important, Troy also understands the importance of maintaining trail etiquette. The group ride I did with him and some other friends was incredibly fun, and even with a reasonably long ride, we had great conversation the whole time. We stopped to talk to a couple of riders who were curious about the bikes. Troy is truly a great ambassador for electric mountain bikes. We should all be.
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