Are You a Considerate Mountain Biker?

Worley, ID: Whether you travel on two feet or on two wheels, word on the trail is that mountain bikers and hikers CAN get along! Are you a considerate mountain biker? Find out if the cyclist in our video can win over the wary hiker and read on for easy things you can do to be a bike ambassador on the trail.

1. Mountain bikers yield to everyone else. Because of their speed and mechanical advantage, cyclists should pause and move off trail, if necessary, to allow hikers and horses to safely pass. For an easy way to yield the trail AND look pro, practice the Fruita Lean. When passing other cyclists, hard-working uphill riders get the right of way. Controlling your speed prevents collisions with trees, rocks, wildlife and other trail users, and helps prevent skidding, which damages the trail.

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2. Pack out your trash. Backpacks, frame bags and jersey pockets have plenty of space for stashing everything you need on the trail, including your trash! Not only does litter ruin beautiful scenery for other visitors, it’s dangerous for wildlife. Food wrappers and food scraps, even “natural” ones like apple cores and banana peels, can attract animals. Not only is litter and human food unhealthy for wildlife, animals who become habituated to humans as a food source can become nuisances or behave aggressively. Plus, energy bar wrappers make great ad hoc tire patches!

3. Don’t ride muddy trails. It’s a bummer to look forward to riding all week and then wake up to a wet day. We know it’s hard to forgo your mountain bike fix, but riding soggy trails creates ruts, which can quickly become deep gullies. Be kind to your favorite trails and trail builders, and only ride when the trails are dry and open. Your local mountain bike organization website or apps like MTB Project and Trail Status can provide information on trail conditions and closures. Plus, your bike says thanks for keeping damaging mud off its components.

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A few additional tips and tricks for the Leave No Trace mountain biker:

• Wash your bike and gear after riding. Invasive plants and seeds can hitch a ride on your bike and shoes, only to be deposited on other trails the next time you ride.
Plan ahead. Check the weather and wear easily-stashed layers. Bring a spare tube, inflator and multi-tool, and more food and water than you anticipate needing. You never know when that third flat tire will keep you out longer than anticipated! Consult multiple map sources before heading out to ride, as trails can be added and closed, and outdated resources might get you lost in the woods.
• Stick to legal trails. Mountain bikers have worked hard to gain access to our beautiful natural areas. When riders choose trails closed to mountain bikers or ride off-trail, it’s detrimental to trail access, plants and animals.

Leave No Trace's Jessie Johnson and Matt Schneider are part of the 2017 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Klean Kanteen, and Smartwool.