Participating in any sport requires a measure of responsibility as a role model. When riding in the backcountry in any kind of Off Highway Vehicle (OHV), people you encounter will form an opinion of you. It is a natural reaction to just your being there.
Some people will have a prejudice against your mode of recreation, but how you approach others can make a difference.
Here are some rules that will help you make friends on the trail:
Stay on the trail and plan your ride so that you know where to go when you get there. Leave an area cleaner than you find it and pack out what you pack in.
This is not only a safety rule — it is a rule of etiquette. Help is close if you have a breakdown or run out of gas when you are riding with a buddy.
I have ridden some pretty dusty trails, but in doing so, I like to leave plenty of room between me and the rider ahead. Eating dust is not only unhealthy — it will clog the air filter on your machine.
When riding with a group, choose your position when the leader starts the ride. If you don’t like your spot in the line, take a new position when the group restarts from a rest stop. Don’t try to pass while the line is moving. Not only do you create extra dust, but you distract the riders you are passing.
Allow plenty of room for other riders on the trail to pass through safely. Choosing a spot to stop for a rest is critical. Coming over a hill or around a blind curve and finding a group of riders blocking the trail is not a pleasant surprise.
Uphill riders have momentum. If they have to stop, the risk of goosing the throttle and bringing the front end up is greater than for the downhill rider who only has to release the brake. If you meet a rider coming up a hill you are descending, pull over and let them continue.
When I lead a large group and come upon other riders, I will stop and indicate the number of riders in my group so they are aware, even though there might be gaps in the line. The last few riders should hold up fingers showing the number of riders remaining. The last rider should hold up a fist showing he is the last rider in the group.
Horses and cattle will spook if improperly approached. It is important to pull off the trail, turn off your machine, remove your helmet and speak in a normal voice to the man in the saddle.
The horse needs to know that you are a human. It will make it easier for the horseman to handle his horse. I have gained the respect of horsemen not only on the trail, but in cattle drives by following these rules.
It is easier to negotiate passage while allowing them to continue their drive without interruption. When meeting a horseman on a trail, stop and let him move past some distance before donning your helmet and restarting your machine.
When approaching cattle on the trail, slow down, see what they are going to do and pass slowly. Don’t purposely annoy or chase them.
Hikers and bikers have as much right to be on the trail as you do. When passing a hiker, I slow down to a crawl to avoid causing dust and noise. If the opportunity presents itself, I will stop and talk with them.
When approaching a biker, I will stop altogether. He is moving and I will acknowledge the rider and let him pass before starting again.
When you go, treat others the way you would like to be treated. It will make a difference in winning friends on the trail. Take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and be an ambassador for our sport.