The new Singletrack Advocates trail network is tight, twisty, fun as hell, and allows riders to choose a variety of trail combinations to complete the “Grand Tour” of the network. But not everyone can easily comprehend the trail design, which was intended to use vegetation, sharp turns and uneven terrain to make riders slow down and ride with some skill instead of just balls-to-the-wall speed.
All the low-visibility corners have prompted grumbling from some riders that the trails should be one-way routes for improved safety. The way I see it, one-way trails might cut the risk of collisions, but they would also cut everyone’s options in half.
This situation reminds me of when I once worked for a big company with no limit on employee sick days. A tiny group of people abused this benefit, calling in sick at least once during every two week pay period—in other words, they were screwing The Man out of an extra month every year. When the bosses told everyone to be more careful about the use of sick time, it was the abusers who panicked and demanded to be told exactly how much sick time they were supposed to use.
In a rare moment of brilliant clarity for a corporate drone, The Big Cheese looked at these people in an open meeting and said, “You have the luxury of unlimited sick time. Do you really want me to restrict that to a firm number?”
It’s the same way with trails. Do you really want to sacrifice half of your options and ride only one way? Wouldn’t it be more fun if everyone used their heads and kept riding both ways?
Unfortunately, some mountain bikers are abusers of privilege. It’s just too tempting for them to bomb down trails while barely in control, or with their loose, out-of-control dogs running along. A careless rider and his dog nearly hit me last Wednesday night, and plenty of folks have had similar experiences.
I don’t mind rules, but I hate restrictive laws forced by the inability of people to handle loose ones. So, instead of imposing new rules to solve a simple problem, I offer this easy solution: Let’s all slow down, be safe and keep our two-way options open.
Ride under control. Watch for your fellow riders. Call out to approaching riders, or ring a bell so everyone can keep track of each other. Leave your dog at home, or take him to a wider trail with plenty of room and better sight lines. It’s safer, more respectful of other trail users, and just might save you an expensive vet bill.
And for cryin’ out loud, stop skidding into turns. That just shows bad manners and poor riding skills.