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Trail etiquette...(25 posts)

Trail etiquette...Fredrico
Sep 3, 2002 12:44 PM
I'm riding on the W&OD bike trail, and another rider passes. I'm feeling good enough to pace this guy, now about a block ahead on the two lane bike path. Eventually I catch him, and sensing he is ready for a rest, pass him, saying in a friendly manner, "Take a break!"

Not too far away, however, is a skater and a woman on a bicycle towing her kid in a trailer. We have to slow to wait for a cyclist coming the other way, then I say, "On your left," and go around the train. The guy behind quickly passes me at this point, muttering something like, "If that's all you can do, f--k off!" Apparently, he did not appreciate me catching him, then offering to take a pull, then slowing him down to pass these other users of the trail.

Since then, I've been shy of repeating this situation with other riders. Seems like everyone gets uptight when someone's drafting them. Maybe its just on this bike path, and if on the road, would be a different matter. Maybe this guy was suffering so badly, he lost his ability to think straight.

What are your experiences with drafting, passing, etc. of strangers in public places who just happen to be riding about the same pace as you are? How could I have handled this situation differently, without insulting this guy?

Perplexed and confused,

easy as piemr_spin
Sep 3, 2002 12:51 PM
The best way to handle the situation is:

1. Resist the urge to draft everything that moves.

2. Resist the urge to offer commentary when passing strangers.

3. Resist the urge to turn everything into a competition, especially on a bike path.
and we wonder why wars start...(nm)ColnagoFE
Sep 3, 2002 1:12 PM
Used to ride the W&OD a lot when my road bike was new.peter in NVA
Sep 3, 2002 1:57 PM
Never knew what to do in those situations. On those rare occasions when someone was riding my wheel I'd feel complimented that they thought I was fast enough to pull them. Then I'd worry the whole time they didn't know the trail as well as I and would crash into me when I slowed. When I'd pass people and say something nice, I began to realize they didn't hear me and were confused or annoyed that I broke their concentration.I just ride it leisurely now in silence as a transition to the road.
I will not let strangers draft us. Nor will I draft strangers.MB1
Sep 3, 2002 2:18 PM
I am pretty hardcore about that.

I suppose if you want to try it you should first strike up a conversation with the other rider to make sure you agree on what you are doing.

Group rides are the right places to draft, not trails.

Drafting sometimes is a relative term. There's three inchesbill
Sep 3, 2002 3:09 PM
from the wheel, and then there's five, ten, fifteen feet, when you can't pass someone with authority. On the trails, it's pretty hard to avoid the latter. One of you slows, and all of the sudden you're pretty close.
MB1, you ride A LOT, and you certainly carry more than your share of credibility, but aren't you being a tad, uh, severe, maybe? If you're on the trails at all, you have committed yourself to sort of a messy, uncontrolled experience that requires a fair amount of humor to survive, let alone to have a good time justifying your time away from home, as well as vigilance.
When I'm on the trails, I go fast when I want to/can, slow/stop when I want to/have to, watch out for sports bras, and generally have a pretty darn good ol' time. It's not for every ride, but when you're on the trail, you know what you're in for, and you have to adjust.
I went to Mount Vernon yesterday in the middle of the afternoon. I was out for a noodle, hooked up with a guy after a fashion, blasted the last few miles to Mount Vernon (on the parkway), and generally had fun. Even with traffic, my computer avg was like 18.6, and I don't think that I threatened anyone or felt threatened at any time.
I actually thought that I saw someone who looked like you (as much as I can gather from your pictures) on a tandem.
There is riding close for a short time-then there is drafting.MB1
Sep 3, 2002 3:17 PM
Nope, won't let strangers draft us. First a quick hello and a polite request to move on. If it doesn't work we slow down until the stranger passes.

Alternately I ask Miss M to pull away while I ride at the same speed till she has a couple of hundred yards. Then I sprint up to her. Do that once or twice and the drafter is gone.

We ride enough on the trails to see lots of accidents often caused by strangers drafting. OTOH we met Greg Taylor for the first time and were very comfortable riding with him-we were also chatting away-no stranger he. Introduce yourself sometime and we will be more than glad to ride with you.

BTW that couldn't have been us-we were up near Gettysburg but all beautiful people tend to look alike. ;-)
Picking who you draft with is like picking a dancing partner...Gregory Taylor
Sep 4, 2002 5:48 AM
It's generally nice to be introduced first.

There are some "regulars" on the Mt. Vernon trail that I feel comfortable hooking up with - no questions. Strangers can be a crap shoot. If it's not crowded, I'll pull. Drafting is completely off for me when the trail is crowded.

By the way, it was grand to finally meet you and Miss M. I truly regret not hooking up with you guys for the first RoadBikeReview DC Bash a while back. I've also ridden with Bill -- he's a very fine rider when his wife lets him out...
Stay back east!270bullet
Sep 3, 2002 4:48 PM
Wow - you are one uptight mofo. You must be from Ohio, PA, or one of those upity midwestern states. I guess out west we tend to be just a little friendlier. I don't mind when others draft me on the road or trail, and I've never had anyone get all militant about it when I've drafted them.

If they catch me from behind, I'll accelerate next to them to show I'm going the same speed and then drop into their draft if I get tired. Sometimes we say something to each other, other times no words need to be exchanged. If they jump on my wheel after I pass them, I don't really care. If an obstacle is coming up, I'll call it out as if on group ride. Sometimes 10-20 miles of sharing the pulls without saying a word and then just parting ways with a "thanks for the ride" is the best way to enjoy a ride.

D$@#mn, you need to lighten up a bit and enjoy the ride instead of being a d*#%ckhead about it. If you are that strong of a rider, then you shouldn't be getting stressed about it.....or are you that strong of a rider??? mmmmm? A person's weakness is often reflected in their actions.

To the original message, the guy that was passed then said "f&$ck off", must have been from the same school as M. Let him go, you don't want to ride with d#$cks like that.
LOL, I'll try to post a picture of the trails around here. Then you might understand.MB1
Sep 3, 2002 5:04 PM
Most of the time I am on a trail I am with my wife. That is already 2 of us on a narrow Multi-Use-Trail likely crowded and with bad sight lines.

Why in the world should someone want to draft a stranger in a situation like that? If I ask them politely to back off or move on and they don't what do you suggest? Does that make me a bad person or a survivor?

If we are on some country road and we come upon someone who wants to draft-sure why not if they ask and seem safe. But on a MUT-no, never.

Safety first.
I do agree that real-live drafting on the bike trails closer inbill
Sep 3, 2002 5:42 PM
is a bit nuts. There are stretches where you can do it, and there are stretches, including most of the miles closer in, where it is not safe -- too many people, too many blind corners. It's not a get-away-from-me thing; it's more of a damn-if-you're-going-to-be-nuts-I-don't-want-to-be-a-party-to-it thing.
I also agree that wordlessly trading off with someone you've never met and will never meet again is pretty darn cool.
Disagree with you. That's a common practise on the trail. nmPaul
Sep 4, 2002 4:19 AM
It is common for drivers to speed, use cell phones and run lights.MB1
Sep 4, 2002 6:04 AM
But you do not have to. Matter of fact you shouldn't.

Still it is each riders choice, I have no problem when 2 riders are drafting on the trail if they are considerate of other trail users.

What is wrong with not letting people draft me since I don't draft them? Riding on a MUT is not racing.
That's fine, your choice. nmPaul
Sep 4, 2002 8:59 AM
re: Trail etiquette...pnitefly
Sep 3, 2002 3:02 PM
What are you guys doing? To draft you must be going reasonably fast, correct? Problem...YOU'RE ON A BIKE PATH!!! I learned this lesson long ago. Bike paths are generally inhabited by slower folk. They are for inexperienced riders who shouldn't be on the streets. However, when you add just one speed demon in an imaginary "Tour de Metro" you have the potential for disaster. If you are such a strong rider, take it to the streets where it belongs. The few times I ride bike paths, I respect the people I see on them.
Yeah, you have to watch out and be considerate. That meansbill
Sep 3, 2002 3:13 PM
that the rules pretty much consist of ---------
being considerate.
You may have a clear couple of hundred yards. Sprint. Blind corner? Stroller? Dog-walker? sloowwww. It's actually not bad training for racing, with the constant starts and stops. It comes with the territory, and you just can't let it upset you.
Trails and "trails"filtersweep
Sep 3, 2002 5:53 PM
There are some trails here that are separate eight foot wide lanes in each direction with a separate foot path... these are not your grandmother's MUTs, these are commuter bike trails. I'm not saying they don't possess some of the elements of MUTs, but they are not as risky as you suggest- especially when they go through industrial wastelands. Rails to trails conversions... and if you don't like rollerbladers, there are miles and miles of gravel for the cross bike.
Never underestimate bad mannersfiltersweep
Sep 3, 2002 3:04 PM
OK... let's forget about the trail for a second. Maybe he just didn't like your general pace when you were pulling?
Don't get into other people's rides!Uncle Tim
Sep 3, 2002 8:18 PM
Why not?

Because the teamwork inherent in pacelining is a very delicate thing. I've been riding with people for years, some of whom "just don't get it". I've given up trying to teach them how to ride more efficiently. That's fine by me because I enjoy seeing them spending inordinate amounts of time working in the wind.

The guy you tried to team up with had a different point of view than you did. Perhaps he prefers to ride alone? Perhaps your arrival on the scene excited him and he wanted to use you to help him go faster? Whatever the reason, it's clear that the two of you are playing by different sets of rules - and the fact that you were on a busy MUT just complicates things.

I've been riding enough to know who works well with me and who doesn't. It's taken many hours of riding with people to learn their strengths and weaknesses well enough to know what to expect out of them. The next time you find yourself chasing another cyclist, ask yourself this question: how can I expect this guy or gal to to work well with me over the next 10 mile stretch?

It's for that reason that I have this standing rule: ride your own ride. Nod or wave as you pass (I find that riders rarely respond when you pass them!),but don't sit up and start wheelsucking. And don't pull around like you are going to save them by pulling. The odds are strongly against this kind of thing working out to your mutual benefit.
Bike Path MPH too low to draft and Always Call out when passingteamsloppy
Sep 3, 2002 8:40 PM
Bike Paths are now multi-use trails not suitable for real road riding.

A 20 MPH collision with a pedestrian is life threatening. Drafting under 20 MPH is probably not worth the effort (is there really a noticeable effect under 20?). I think most Bike paths have 15 MPH limits for a reason: 15 MPH would probably kill a little-old-lady or an 8 year-old.

Drafting is for the Road; not a glorified side-walk.

Always call out when passing from behind on a bike path: pedestrians are oblivious and a well tuned bike is deadly silent. You should call out when passing on the road too. Not hello, not chatty; just "Hey. Bicycle passing on our left".
I've been riding the trail for years, and what you should havePaul
Sep 4, 2002 4:14 AM
have said was " good pull" on passing him.. I think it's "take a break" that pissed the guy off. Also, when drafting a stranger, say "I'm on your wheel". I've only had a few riders over the years let me kow they didn't want ot be drafted. It's really an un-written rule when it comes to drafting on the trail, people who frequent it expect that sort of thing. also, don't speed up when someone is on your wheel, If you want him to take a turn, pull out, and say "your turn". I'm sure you have seen me out there, I ride a red C-Dale or a yellow Look 386.

You can draft me anytime.
Trails are what you ride MTBs onlnin0
Sep 4, 2002 5:14 AM
Paths are what you take your road bike on if you have the desire to get held up every 30 yards by some old lady walking her dog or little kids weaving about on their bmx bikes.
Drafting, etc.Breakfast
Sep 4, 2002 6:31 AM
Don't draft or paceline on bike paths. If the bike path is super straight, and nobody's on it, and visibility is so good you can see oncoming users then maybe you can get away with some pacing or drafting. This is an exception to the general rule, so leave the pacelining for the road.

Drafting strangers you happen upon is another can of worms. This topic is debated constantly and my own experience is that you usually come off as a competitive asshole and rarely is the experience mutually rewarding. In most cases the guy who sucks the wheel of hard charging rider can pass and drop him after a bit which is good for only one man's ego.

It's always better to play a game of stalking on riders you don't know. Stay off them by 50-100 yards and get a feel for their pace. If you know you can go at a higher speed then sit back for ten minutes or so before passing. Once at the front, pull for a couple minutes or less then look back. If they're still there let them pull again and if you find that you are probably correct in your assessment that you're faster, try to break away.

Most of us, though, don't have this kind of patience. We come up on a rider, speed up, pass him and then find him on our wheel. Or, we're the one just riding along unaware and some guy passes us and we respond by jumping on his wheel too soon. It's a game everybody plays and egos naturally get hurt.
Good advice, all..Fredrico
Sep 4, 2002 7:01 AM
A little perspective is welcome. I've not ridden much on the roads because they are all morphing into four lane highways with impatient drivers speeding on them. The bike path connects to DC one way, almost to the Blue ridge the other way. So who needs the roads? Plus, the scenery along the path is much more interesting, not to mention the culture.

Getting the heartrate up might be better accomodated on a road route, once I find some good ones. Meanwhile, prudent riding on the bike paths is good advice. The signs even say, "Slow when passing." and let others know what I'm doing, including, "I'm on your wheel."


re: Trail etiquette...aliensporebomb
Sep 4, 2002 7:38 AM
Trail ettiquette "Do Nots" 101:

These simple tips will prevent misunderstandings and will keep things calm and enjoyable on the trail. Or not.

Upon coming up behind a fast rider you wish to draft.

(1) don't jam a frame pump in their spokes unexpectedly.

(2) don't ride up quietly behind them and say in a Hannibal Lecter voice "Are the lambs still screaming, Clarice?" Bonus points awarded if the rider looks like Jodie Foster.

(3) don't utter "Klaatu Barada Niktos" as a greeting unless they are wearing spock ears under their helmet.

(4) don't pass the guy on the Serotta and say "Nice Huffy."

(5) don't attempt to draft behind a total stranger by riding behind them uttering "I'm stalking you. There is no escape" while waving Ginsu knives with one hand.

(6) don't stop in the middle of the trail in such a way that your entire rig takes up the entire width of the trail, then just sit there honking an air horn at passersby.

(7) don't "cool other riders down" by shooting super soakers filled with latex house paint at them.