If you’ve been trail riding for a number of years, you’ll be aware that far from the laid back recreational pursuit it pretends to be, the sport is riddled with unwritten rules. There’s rafts of do’s and do not’s that exist in every club and you’ll only know from riding with those guys through good times and bad. Or maybe when you inadvertently cross a line and get a stony silence and faintly embarrassed shuffling of Alpinestars…
TOP 10 RULES OF TRAIL RIDING
So in an effort to get things out in the open and avoid those trail rife faux-pas, we’ve complied our top ten list of those trail riding rules for your reading pleasure.
Ignore them at your peril – Newbie or Old Timer …
1. FOLLOW THE LEADER
OK so in every club there are those that do lots and those that do little – but that’s life for you! There will only be a small core of guys that put their hands up and volunteer to lead ride-outs. This might be just putting together a series of local lanes or a week long tour of foreign trails, but it’s always the same guys. That being the case, you have to fit in with what they’ve planned. Don’t suggest a different route, don’t say you always do it in a different order because it’s better, and don’t criticise the day they’ve planned. If you want to do something different, organise a run yourself – Otherwise just button it and enjoy the day.
2. THE C WORD
Our second trail riding golden rule is COMMITMENT – that’s what people like, so if you say your are going to come on a trail ride, then do the decent thing and turn up at the correct time and ready for the day. If it’s limited numbers, there’s nothing worse than people taking a place and then pulling a DNS. Oh except maybe those guys that turn up when they know a run is full and they weren’t on the list. Aggghhh
3. DON’T FIGHT THE SYSTEM
If there are not many of you going out, then just checking the rider behind you is still following is good enough to keep the group together. For larger numbers, the leader will probably suggest a ‘ Second man drop-off system ’, otherwise known as the ‘Cornerman system’ for you Aussies, which means that every junction the second guy points the rest of the riders the correct way before rejoining the group in front of the rear sweeper. This ensures nobody gets lost, rotates the riding order and keeps the pace of the ride going. We employ this rule on our trail riding tours in Cambodia and it is incredibly effective. But only if everybody does it …
4. KEEP THE PEACE AND KEEP THE PACE
While trail riding is clearly not racing, to cover the route planned, the leader will set the pace to get the job done and it’s good if you can match it. So that means don’t keep overtaking the leader just as much as not riding like a Sunday afternoon driver in a Kia, bumbling along while admiring the flowers.
If people are constantly waiting for you, you need to twist the throttle a bit more!
5. GATE DROP
Most important this rule – in a large group, the leader and the sweeper don’t do gates – it’s a perk of taking responsibility. So the second man opens it up and the third man waits for everybody to go through before closing it.
This will keep the ride flowing, keep any animals where they should be and make the leader feel very important – Bless …
6. BE PREPARED
Just like Scouts across the world, setting out for a day’s riding requires a bit of preparation, from a full tank of petrol when you start, to a selection of tools and spares, a drink and enough cash to get you lunch and petrol. Oh and if the worst comes to the worst, either breakdown cover or a sympathetic partner with a van? Green Flag it is …
7. RELAX, DON’T DO IT
OK so going on a trail ride is meant to be a relaxing day buggering about on biukes with your mates, away from the pressures of schedules and timetables. So our next golden trail biking rule is: don’t be in a tearing rush to set off, blast down the lanes and get home, otherwise you really have missed the point, haven’t you Stuart …
8. MAN DOWN
At times you are going to fall off, and hopefully it will be caught on camera and give your mates plenty to laugh about. But if somebody does eat dirt, stop and check if they are OK or if they need help to get the bike upright before going on. OK so on a steep hill you might want to complete the climb and walk back down, but don’t leave your buddy on the deck – it may be you next!
9. TEAM PLAYER
Being in a trail bike club is just like being in a gang when you are a kid – it’s cool and no matter how old you are it stays cool whether you ride a KTM, a DRZ or a KLX. And that means you get to join in with everything from ride-outs to standing around with everybody else offering useless advice as another rider struggles to get his bike going on the side of a busy road. It would be rude not to!
10. ROOSTER BOOSTER
As guilty pleasures go, throwing ten kilos of stinking mud over your friends or soaking them in a puddle is right up there with nailing the perfect holeshot or hoisting a 300 yard wheelie. Maybe don’t do it to newbies in the group or if you are a guest with another club, but otherwise it’s game on. Just know that revenge will come back to bite you and it will be cold and smell real bad …
So that’s our Ten Commandments of Trailriding. But have we missed something? Please let us know your comments below!
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