As the mountain bike scene in Southeastern Wisconsin continues to grow every year, it is exciting to have so many newcomers joining us and enjoying all of the great trailsystems in the area. With more people than ever taking to the dirt, it is just as important for new riders to learn the basics of trail etiquette as it is for veterans to review them. Building and maintaining mountain bike trails requires a lot of hard work and advocacy. As riders, it is our responsibility to minimize our footprints and respect those who make all of this possible. With the help of the members of OCMB, we’ve put together a list of essential tips to keep in mind as you venture off-road this Spring.
Don’t ride trails when they are wet. This is especially important in early Spring as the snow begins to melt and the ground thaws. How can you tell if a trail is rideable? According to Ozaukee County Mountain Bikers, “if you’re leaving a rut or losing traction and sliding, the trail is too wet to ride” and you will damage its surface. Trail conditions reports can be found on OCMB’s website.
Keep on the trail. Some trails, including those in Ozaukee County, run very closely to private property. If we want to continue enjoying access to our trails for years to come, we must respect our neighbors.
This one should be obvious: don’t litter! Plastic wrappers, water bottles, and punctured tubes can all fit in your jersey pocket until you can throw it away. Not only will these items not decompose for years, they are also harmful to the animals who call our trails home. Most trails have a trash can or two located at the trailhead.
Follow all posted signage! While there are some trails that are designed for two-way traffic, most are not! There’s no faster way to ruin a ride than a collision with an unexpected rider coming full-speed from the opposite direction!
If a faster rider is approaching behind you, move to the side and let them pass, rather than pausing in the middle of the trail or trying to ride faster.
On the other hand, if you are the faster rider catching up with someone riding slower, don’t get too close or pass them aggressively. Calmly call out to them that you’d like to come around them and give them a moment to pull aside. Be sure to give a quick “thanks”!
Last, but not least, be in control. Know your abilities, push your limits, but don’t ride something you know you don’t yet have the skills for. Be attentive and anticipate crossing paths with others. Similarly, do not bring a bike that you know is not working properly. Not having full control over yourself and your equipment puts not only your safety, but that of other riders at risk.
The Best Bike for Beginners:
Giant’s Fathom is our favorite mountain bike for ambitious beginners who are new to off-road riding. Its relaxed geometry offers stability and confident handling, while its lightweight aluminum hardtail frame makes for an efficient ride that’s easy on the climbs. Complete with a dropper post and your choice of either 27.5 or 29-inch wheels, Fathom is just as ready for entry-level XC racing as it is for shredding your local singletrack.
Amber Shesler is a Belgianwerkx sales associate, and a recovering roadie who found cyclocross racing a couple years ago. Her favorite thing is when customers bring in their dogs.