Know Before You Ride

Know Before You Ride Trail Etiquette in the Covid Era

A good friend of ours recently took a road trip to Utah with several buddies in search of sunshine and some of that celebrated slickrock goodness.

After months of COVID-19-induced isolation and a sustained stretch of Pacific Northwest gloom, the crew was understandably ecstatic to arrive in the open desert and ride bikes under sunny skies.

For riders accustomed to the greasy rock rolls of a Bellingham winter, the unparalleled traction of the Moab-area sandstone was mind-blowing. It seemed they could ride anything, at any speed, with few consequences. Though they noticed the painted arrows blazed onto the sandstone at regular intervals—clear signs of a designated route—some chose to ignore them in favor of myriad other lines that proved irresistible. The many ancient, wind-sculpted bowls were perfect for wallrides, and even the steepest of rock rolls simply begged to be dropped.

As they approached a juncture with another trail, one member of the group decided to go way offline, charging into a steep rock roll and fishtailing his way through a crispy layer of black crust coating the sandstone surface. He cleaned it with ease, bottoming out at the trail junction and whooping triumphantly at a horrified cluster of local riders gathered around the trailhead sign.

“Uh, dude,” one of them said in palpable annoyance. “You’re not supposed to ride off trail here. You just skidded through thousands of years of crypto, bro.”

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