Trail etiquette - to yield or not to yield, that is the question

If we can’t even be cordial to our brethren, then no wonder other trail users despise us!

If we can’t even be cordial to our brethren, then no wonder other trail users despise us!

A bold statement, but it’s based on a problem that we all come across regularly: which mountain bikers should get the right of way on the trail? The ones descending, or the ones ascending?

It’s easy to put forward arguments for either position: 

When you’re hurtling down our Isle’s pitifully short downhills, you don’t want to break the enjoyment by stopping to let someone come up the hill…what’s more, on technical sections it could either a) be dangerous to try and stop or b) stopping will make you bottle out and you’ll end up getting off and walking.

When you’re trying to tackle that difficult ascent, you don’t want to have to stop as a) the breaking of your rhythm affects the rest of your climb or b) it can be difficult to get enough traction again to carry on without having to resort to getting off and pushing.

The simple answer is that either rider should be prepared to be the one who stops. Both of you should have the necessary skill and respect to decide who out of you can stop with the least annoyance or danger. 

Unfortunately, it’s never actually that simple. Some people just don’t care, and carry on regardless, expecting the other one to stop. And, some others of us are always the ones who stop.  

Now, this article isn’t intended as a moan about having to be the one who stops. This is because I don’t actually mind stopping (it generally gives me an excuse for why the hill was defeating me!). 

What does get my goat, however, is that those who don’t stop invariably don’t even say thank you.

A walker recently asked me ”are you the last one coming through?” (nope, he didn’t know that I’m the one with least skill amongst my mates, rather he wanted to know whether it was safe to get back on the trail).  

I now adopt this by saying, “I’m the last, thanks” or (less frequently)” one more behind me then it’s ok, thanks.”  Wouldn’t it be great if we used this (including the word ‘thanks’) when coming across our mountain bike brethren, too.

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