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Editor’s Note: Michael Paul spends his days mountain biking the increasingly popular (read: crowded) trails of the Colorado Front Range. While Michael is a regular contributor to Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this article are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

The mountain biking community, by and large, is a supportive one, filled with encouraging high fives and post-ride beers to celebrate GoPro fails and happy trails. There are those special few, however, that we all know and loathe, and we have many words to describe them. This article is dedicated to them–to poke fun and have a good laugh–because God forbid we offend anyone on the Internet. Pay close attention though: you might come to your own uncomfortable realization in the next few minutes.

1. Bike Bragging

2017_YetiCycles_SB55_TS_Silver_XX1_Eagle-desktop@2x-1200x800 (1)

Who doesn’t like to get a new bike and show it off? After all, you may have had to sell a kidney… or your soul… to get that new carbon fiber wunderbike. But no one likes hearing about how much money you have laying around to drop on a new ride. You buy a new $10,000 bike every season for road, mountain, and cyclocross? Good for you, bucko. Why don’t you post a photo of those bikes in your garage on social media and see how long those bikes stay in there. Seriously, though, keep your affluence to yourself and put your money where your saddle is–impress your riding buddies with your skill, not your means. Even better, donate your “old” bikes to those of us who are less fortunate.

2. Riding Muddy Trails

muddy trails memeIt happens to all of us. We are dying to ride, and we know the ground may be a bit damp, but we go anyway, hoping that the trail is mostly dry… and it is. When we see a few wet spots, we ride through them, but when we see a lot of wet, we turn around and go have a beer instead and wait for better conditions. But there are those people that will ride no matter what the conditions look like, and they destroy the trails for everyone else. They ride around mud holes and widen the trail. They insist on creating ruts through long stretches of deep, sticky mud and mar the surface for seasons. Thanks a lot, dude! If this is you, your personal penance should be spending two days of volunteer trail work for every day that you thrash them.

3. Failure to Yield

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We all like to go fast–uninterrupted–every once in a while, and sometimes other people suck the fun out of that because they are enjoying the trail too (and it’s their God-given right to do so). If you find that you are constantly getting into arguments with hikers or other riders, however, or have been known to beat up little old ladies because they won’t move out of your way, you my friend, are a royal trail jerk. Your impatience makes it hard on all of us to get and maintain trail access, and we don’t need your kind. Coming up behind someone and yelling “get out of my effing way” (true story) is the wrong play any day.

4. Trolling Social Media

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You don’t have to be physically on the trail to be mountain biking public-enemy-numero- uno. Trolling sites like Facebook or the Singletracks.com forums for the sheer pleasure of criticizing others makes you a stinky sphincter. As a community, mountain bikers need to stick together. It doesn’t mean that we always have to all agree, but it does mean that you should keep your overly-negative and malignant comments to yourself. Putting someone down on the Internet makes you a super-jerk, and a coward. Chances are your expert “armchair engineering” degree only gives you a PhD in stupidity. So be humble, and respect other’s opinions. You might learn something.

5. Being a Strava**hole

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Many, if not most of us, use Strava to record rides and to compete against ourselves or others. There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Some riders, however, use it to “be the best,” and will do anything and everything to make sure that they get that KOM–even if it means running people off of the trail. Yelling “Strava” does not give you license to supersede the right of way, because no one really cares about your digital accolades but you.

(By the way, a KOM is just a bunch of pixels that are worthless anyway because we all know that Strava times vary based what device is used, so there is zero accuracy to your “award.”)

The all-knowing Internet already has a term for riders like this: “Strava**holes” . Check out the video:

6. Smokers and Tokers

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Smoking is bad… you should know that already. I’m not here to lecture you about your health: if you want to be on oxygen when you’re 45 and die of adenocarcinoma, knock yourself out. But, you’re kind of a jerk when you whip our your cancer sticks and light one up in the middle of a group ride. Most of us are trying to suck in as much clean air as we can, and your micro-pollution blows, my friend. Please, keep your stinky smoke away from the Great Outdoors. This goes double for Mary Jane–enjoy responsibly, but realize that your Magic Carpet Ride can be really noxious to others sharing the same breathing space.

7. The Doppler DJ

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Ah, music: soup for the soul. It makes you feel good, gets you through those tough climbs, and gives you energy for shredding the downhill like the pro you’re not. Problem is, earbuds can be a bit dangerous because they disconnect you from important sounds on the trail, like bears or people trying to pass you. And as annoying as it may be to scream “on your LEFT!” to no avail to a hiker or rider getting a jam on, what is worse is the person who feels justified in playing their tracks out loud with some bike-mounted beat box.

Nothing ruins the serenity of singletrack like some warbly rendition from Justin Bieber as a rider passes by you, aka the Doppler DJ… then to get stuck listening to the faint hum of what should be a song for the duration of your ride.

Suggestion: wear just one earbud, and crank it up as loud as you want.

See Also
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8. Amateur Drone Pilot

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We all love to watch those incredible flyovers seen in Yeti Videos, beckoning us to ride far away ribbons of dirty goodness. The difference between that footage, and the one shot by your friend with his $850 Phantom he bought on Amazon, is that the Yeti videos are shot by professionals in remote locations, with permits. Having an amateur drone pilot buzzing around overhead when you are trying to ride is just flat out annoying.

Fortunately, many local, county, state, and national parks have banned drones from trails. Unfortunately, there are those who will defy the rules to get the equivalent of a shaky helmet mounted POV camera to complete their dope edit. Please, if you must drone, drone far, far, far away from trafficked trails.

9. The Faux Mechanic

trail mechanic mtb meme

Everybody loves a Good Samaritan, especially if your bike breaks down on the trail. Having others stop to help you is one of the beautiful experiences we share as riders, which can result in new friends, stories, and good times. But just because you watched an 11-minute Youtube video on how to rebuild a Fox 36 fork doesn’t mean you’re a mechanic. Please, by all means, stop and help others. If you really, truly know your way around a bike, great.

But if you have never done something before, or think you can fix something by simply forcing it, stop. Check yo’self. I’ve seen bad mechanicals go downhill fast when someone tries to “help” when they really don’t know what they are doing. Don’t be a Bad Samaritan and make a situation worse by manhandling someone’s bike. Know your limits.

10. The Trail Fixer

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Probably nothing grinds my gears more in the mountain biking world than people who mess with trails to suit their inabilities (or alter them to hurt people). This includes pulling up rocks because they are too hard for you, cutting down trees or branches because you are not skilled enough to ride around/under them, going around obstacles and widening the trails, and even building features on a well-used trail when you have no idea what you are doing (a great way to piss off other trail uses and land managers).

Riders improve their skills by trying harder things. Don’t rob others of that progressive experience because of your trepidation. Leave things where they are, and try them yourself. In the end, it’s much more satisfying to clear that manky drop than make three easy lines around it.

Any of these things sound familiar? The good news is that it’s not the end of the world if you’ve committed one of these trail fouls. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Most of us get along simply because we are brethren mountain bikers, and we love ya, even when you screw up. Strive to not be a Trail Jerk by apologizing, being considerate, and listening to criticism.

stay classy mountain bikers meme

Happy trails! 🙂

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# Comments

  • Raymond Epstein

    Keep yourself and others safe, still hear your tunes in stereo (and everything else around you) and all without being an annoying schmuck. http://farendgear.com/shortbuds/

    BTW, most of the Stravassholes I come across are those on climbs that demand riders pull over to let them get the KOM, PR or other nonsense. The vast majority of DH guys I know are far more laid back. In any event, unless it’s a race they can wait to pass me when it is safe to do so. No one’s ride is more important than anyone else’s so I see no reason to “stop and pull over”. I politely let them know if they don’t like it they can go eff themselves.

    • Raymond Epstein

      I wanted to like the Aftershokz (such an 80’s name), but they were cumbersome and flopped around too much, not to mention they easily got knocked out of position by my helmet. On the contrary, the short buds are the most simple, functional and inexpensive (less than $20) route. I can kinda get behind the speakers as I used to do that. I can promise you though that everyone hears them (a plus with critters and less so with everyone else) and no matter how awesome your music is, it really isn’t.

  • thub

    Great list! I agree with all but have an exception to the Doppler DJ. I use a small Bluetooth speaker at a low level. I’m up in Alaska and can’t count the number of moose encounters I’ve avoided by making some noise. I just can’t stand the all day ding ding ding of bells. I also have a sanitized Playlist for biking so I’m not dropping F bomb tunes on unsuspecting children. I did not do this when I lived down south in Oregon. We just have a lot of critters on our trails that can put you in a hospital or 6 feet under. This includes our local trails in town.

  • Rebus

    I do #7 a little bit but not loud enough to annoy the very rare person I pass on trails. I have a “tactical smartphone pouch” lol strapped to my camelbak strap that I keep the iphone in and use SiriusXM’s app to stream classic rewind or Hair Nation \m/ at a volume that I can just hear. Works pretty well. I sure don’t crank it.

  • Alex Thor Johnson

    Agree, except for smoking a J on top of the hill or at a fantastic view point which is great. Personally I think most MTB riders would rather take a puff than complain. To each their own. I would also keep my distance and try not to make anyone uncomfortable.

  • Robert Dobbs

    Ahhh, yes the “Muddy Trail Crisis”
    Soooo you think jumping over a huge log or down a 4ft drop is “cool” but you get all pissy about 30 or 40yrd stretches of muddy trails?!?, really?
    Having grown-up way out in the boonies where a “trail” was anything that didn’t have trees or boulders in the way I find myself somewhat confused by this whole “OMG it’s a muddy trail!!” rant.
    I’m dating myself here, but I used to ride my Schwinn Stingray through mud, rock and weed as a child and when I got my first mountain bike in the mid 90’s I looked for even muddier, rockier trails.
    Mud and swamp slop has always been a part of the fun/challenge of MTB for me. And, where I live, it has been a part of -every- hiking, biking, livestock, moto-cross,hunting, whitetail deer, country trail I’ve used my last 45 years.
    Embrace the slop, become one with the mud, and ye shall be rewarded. 😉

  • Charlie Best

    Michael Paul, some problems with this list:

    #3 is vague. How about sharing correct etiquette for passing slower riders, or should everyone limit themselves to the speed of the slowest rider on the trail? You don’t suggest an acceptable behaviour.

    #4 Aren’t you breaking your own rule by laying down the law in this list? Who made you the authority on the rights and wrongs of trail riding? Maybe your degree in “armchair engineering” makes it OK?

    #5 Doesn’t Singletracks, to some degree, encourage the use of ride tracking devices and apps by giving you the option to include the ones you use in your member registration? i personally believe they take some of the fun out of mountain biking, but that’s just my opinion, and is likely only useful to me.

    #10 It’s great you’re a confident, skilled trail rider Michael (implied, not proven here, so who knows really), but the attitude that tricky obstacles on trails should remain to encourage improvement in less skilled rider is elitist. That attitude will not inspire or encourage a nervous rider to continue to use a trail, or nurture their love of mountain biking. if you like to ride challenging trail sections, but also want to foster growth in the riding community, find out who is building and maintaining the trails you ride and suggest cutting alternate novice routes around tougher sections, this will allow newer riders to learn the flow of a trail and develop confidence without slowing down more experienced riders or reducing the chalenge for the real hardcore rippers like your self.

    Alternately, if you want the trails you ride to be just exactly the way you want them, buy some land, cut some trails and ride all by yourself..

    • Michael Paul

      # 3. This article is satire, not a how-to. It’s an opinion. A rant, but certainly not vague. If you don’t know the rules to yield to other riders…I’m really worried about you.

      # 4. You’re kidding right? This is exactly what you are doing.

      # 5. At this point it’s hard to take your comment seriously…

      #10. Now, I’m convinced you are a roadie who actually stumbled on this website which talks about mountain bikers who like to ride dirt trails, in the wilderness, away from the world, and NOT have those trails neutered because someone is too timid or lazy to ride over them, OR purposely sabotage trails to hurt other riders. No need to widen trails or take a jackhammer to them (true story) or move rocks out of the way or destroy natural kickers or bench cut every square inch of singletrack to foster growth for beginner or intermediate riders when the majority of trails are built for them. If you remove those obstacles…what are those riders going to develop confidence for? The features will all be gone, and you can enjoy your road ride in the woods.

    • Charlie Best

      Thanks for taking the time to apply Michael, even if you did it in a defensive and dismissive tone.

      #3 Good satire is clearly that, keep it free of genuine sentiment or people get confused. I feel like you might have edited your preamble a little bit to clarify the list’s satirical nature, but that doesn’t change the non-satirical nature of #7 and #9. You then say it’s an opinion, and a rant. Which is it? Satire, opinion or rant?

      #4 Sorry, no. I’m not trolling, I took your list at face value (see #3 above) and commented on how I disagreed. You’ve reacted negatively and included some mild ad-hominem digs. Way to be the bigger person.

      #5 In one paragraph you go from saying that “Many, if not most of us, use Strava to record rides and to compete against ourselves or others” to discounting Strava data altogether because it’s “worthless anyway because we all know that Strava times vary based what device is used”. I mistook your “satire” for a condemnation of Strava use, but it’s apparently important/valid enough that Singletracks encourages sharing of it. “At this point it’s hard to take your comment seriously…” could be construed as a timid and lazy way of not addressing my confusion. Speaking of timid and lazy, on to:

      #10 Why are you convinced I’m a roadie (and why would you suggest that lessens my right to browse Singletracks)? In fact I’ve been riding bikes on dirt since the early 1980s when I got my first BMX, I still ride BMX and in my time I’ve hit 20″ double sets and drops you’d need a ladder for, on a 20″ wheel bike with no suspension. I bought my first mountain bike in 1988 at the age of 16 and I’ve never stopped, I own several XC hardtails, a mid travel trail bike, a long travel hard tail, a DJ bike, multiple BMX bikes and yes, a road bike and a CX bike. I’ve raced mountain bikes for years and still compete occasionally on trails that would and do test the most skilled riders. I’m also a professional wrench with three decades of experience, and I now work providing mechanical instruction, and riding skills and safety classes (including trail etiquette) to people from grade school up. All this aside, I didn’t suggest your favourite trails be neutered, I suggested that they be made more widely accessible without changing the features that are enjoyed by skilled riders. Writing less-skilled riders off as “too timid or lazy” is pure elitism, but the trouble with elitism is, it requires perspective to see it in yourself, and that perspective is something you seem to lack.

  • mongwolf

    One of the worst trail fouls has to be standing in the middle of the trail with your bikes, talking to your buddies. I’ve seen it three times this year in CO. Once was on a very fast downhill turn. I locked up, couldn’t stop in time, changed course, and just missed one of the guys by a hair. It was close to being very ugly. Amazingly, there was not a single apology from anyone in the group.

  • mongwolf

    It should be a federal, state and local law all across the nation that you can only use one side of your headphones if you are on a trail.

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