Common Sense Needed On The Trail

The 2014 Sea Otter Classic is in the record books (the 2015 event takes place April 16-19). The Sea Otter is a true festival that celebrates all forms of bicycling (including a large contingent of electric bikes). It is the one American event that gathers road riders, mountain bikers and BMXers together for a four-day party that the different groups would normally celebrate separately. What comes with all this togetherness is the responsibility for riders to interact appropriately.

The Elite Men’s cross-country race was a grueling 2-hour race for the winner (the last place rider took over 3 hours to finish the 30-plus mile course). The course had one last leg-breaking climb before riders would enter the Laguna Seca Raceway road course and ride to the finish. It was on this climb that we noticed Perry Bryson giving a tremendous effort on the last climb to break into the top 40. No small feat. Perry would end up in 38th. But who was the racer behind him?

The “racer” behind Perry was not a racer at all, but an electric bike rider who was riding the course. As anyone who has ever had the pleasure of riding an electric-assisted bicycle knows, a human powered rider is no match, especially on a hill, for an electric bike. The unknown rider was offering what he probably considered encouragement to Perry saying things like, “keep going, man” and “You’re almost to the top.” But to a racer on the rivet (a term used for pushing to the limit of exhaustion), such encouragement is annoying and rude. That rider should not have been on the course and he should not have been so close to a competitor.

We, electric bike riders, are the new user group on the trails and we have a responsibility to interact with other trail users properly. The International Mountain Bicycling Association, who do not view electric bikes as part of their user group, have established Rules of the Trail for mountain bikers and we would be wise to adopt them and add to these rules. Until then, use common sense and courtesy when encountering all other trail users. Our future on multi-user trails depends on it.

Perry Bryson had the goal of finishing in the top 40 at the Sea Otter Classic. He didn’t need some yahoo dogging him to the finish.