Even when I’m riding solo, my actions can still have an impact on other riders.

The sport of mountain biking is greater than any one rider. Yet each of us has an impact. It’s up to us whether the impact is positive or negative. When I ride, I think about the things I wish other riders would do to enhance my experience, and then I try to practice them myself. Here are three simple things we all can do to enhance one another’s experience.

If you are the first rider out on the trail, try to clear any debris from it

A fallen tree like this one can really hurt a rider’s flow, so why not move it out of the way like my friend Bryon did.

I am an early morning rider. Occasionally, I’ll come across fallen branches, or other debris, that landed on the trail during the night. Most of time, it’s something I could ride over, but it might hinder a less experienced rider. I’d rather stop and move it off the trail than leave it there, so it doesn’t interrupt someone else’s flow. It might slow me down by a minute or so, but it’s a small price to pay to keep the trails clear for others. After all, I’d want others to do that for me.


When the debris is too large for me to move (like a fallen tree), I’ll contact the local parks and recreation department to let them know about it, and post a warning about it on our local bike club’s Facebook page. That way other riders will at least know about the obstacle ahead of time, and be prepared to slow down on that section of trail.

If you see another rider stopped along the trail, stop and ask if they need help

My friend Bryon is quick to lend a hand to fellow riders, even in the dark.

All riders have found themselves on the side of the trail at one time or another, suffering from a flat tire or mechanical failure. As bad as those moments are, they can be made better when a rider you don’t know stops to check on you and offers assistance. Those instances remind you that you are part of a big family whose members look out for one another. And even if the problem can’t be fixed then and there, you still get something positive out of an otherwise negative experience. So, the next time you see a rider stopped alongside the trail, take the time to check on them. It might just make their day.

If another rider is approaching you in the opposite direction, stop, smile, and greet them

It always lifts my spirits when a fellow rider greets me with a smile on the trail.

I feel like society is becoming more self-absorbed. We, as individuals, can either complain about the ways things are, or we can try to change them. I love encountering riders who are enjoying their ride, and want to share their joy with other riders.


It is not always safe or practical to stop on a trail every time you encounter another rider heading toward you. This suggestion also won’t work on a busy trail because you’d never finish a ride if you stopped for every rider you encountered. Nevertheless, in cases where you are riding less frequented trails, and have such an encounter, put this suggestion into practice. Stopping to greet other riders might slow you down a bit, but I bet you’ll make a positive impact on someone else.

Even the little things can make a big difference

If you are a total jerk on the trail, then you might cause another rider to give up on mountain biking entirely. However, if you take the time to offer encouragement to a struggling newbie, then it might be the catalyst they need to press on and become the next superstar of the sport. Our sport is only as great as its participants, so take the time to make it better by being nice.

# Comments

  • m.krupp

    Good advice. I especially liked the one about clearing debris. Yeah it takes from my flow but especially thinking of the less experienced biker that can’t navigate it safely. Or maybe that odd branch that may kick up into the rear of another bike and cause issues. Thinking of others when others are not around. That is part of our community.

    Let me add one. Invite other riders to join your ride or scheduled group ride. Local park I ride a lot seems to always have newbies on it. Some are lost or just don’t know their way around. I have had the pleasure of helping multiple ones get out. Also had a few join me and my kids. Hopefully enriching their ride and showing my kids how to treat others. Recently I was riding solo and kept meeting another guy riding solo we seemed to be riding the opposite direction on the same trails all morning. After the third time I saw him stopped and went to talk to him. Invited him to ride with a group I ride with weekly. Now he is a part of us. Good for him and good for us.

    • Richard Shoop

      That’s a good suggestion too. It’s also a good idea to help out newbies to the sport. Thanks for the comment.

  • mongwolf

    Nice article Richard. All three are great tips. I try to pull aside for other riders all the time … just to show common courtesy and value them and their experience. Plus, I have a rickety old back, so getting off the bike frequently even just for a moment isn’t a bad thing for me. Then to be really good ambassadors of our community, we need to do the same for hikers and other users of course. Pull aside, say hi and engage other users. I frequent have super nice moments for other users who obviously appreciate my insistence for them to come by first and then be friendly to them and oftentimes their dog. I have a few favorite lines that work like a charm. Of course following trail rules, I often say “Hikers first” with a friendly smile. Then I’ll often follow that with “Ladies first.” if it is a couple of gals. That really works. If they have dogs, I say a few different things, either “Puppies first.” Or “I love pups, and I don’t want to scare them flying by them so fast.” Or “it’s his trail too.” Dog owners just love that line. It’s fun to take on the role of being good ambassadors of our community.

    • Richard Shoop

      Thanks for the comments, and for being a good ambassador for the sport.

  • rmap01

    Does clearing spiderwebs for the next rider(s) count as clearing debris? If so, I do it all the time 🙂 BTW, I have plenty of friends that would take exception to Bryon’s clearing of that very hoppable log… just saying. Lol

    My experience has been that MTB’ers are among the most helpful by far in asking others who are stopped if they are ok and/or need any assistance.

    As to offering a greeting I concur. A simple “hi” is appreciated.

    The one area I’d love to see MTB’ers improve is trail etiquette. I’ve gotten past the point of who “should” yield to who. My only gripe is that far too many times the rider given the right of passage oftentimes fails to offer a simple “Thank you” to the yielder. I make it a point to thank virtually everyone I pass regardless of the circumstances.

    • Richard Shoop

      Yes, spider webs most definitely count as trail debris around here. We call the brave soul who goes out on the trail first and clears them the “webmaster”. My friend and I have both held that title. Banana spiders are the worst. They build their webs between head and chest height across the trail, and love to ride along with you after you’ve taken out their web.

  • rmap01

    @mongwolf “Ladies first.” -> Hate to say it but you never know anymore how this is going to be taken nowadays… kinda sad IMO.

  • mongwolf

    Yes, I had the same concern a few years ago, but after of saying such over that time, I’ve had nothing but appreciative responses.

  • rmap01

    Like you, my experiences “on trail” have all been positive. “Off trail” not always.

    On a related note, I recently said “Thank you ladies” to two riders that let me pass. But once I rode pass them I began to second guess myself that they may well have been guys with long hair. (NB: It’s not long hair per se but general style).
    Mentally beat myself up the rest of the ride thinking I may have inadvertently insulted someone I was trying to extend gratitude to. Not sure if it’s my eyesight going or modern culture. Probably both! Lol

  • m.krupp


    I am stealing that. Hilarious. Been the webmaster many a time.

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