1. You are a bad person. You ride secret trails? How dare you!
Hang on a sec. This isn’t a morality play. You are big boys and girls and hopefully you are intelligent and informed enough to make wise decisions. Do I advocate riding secret trails? Nope. But I’m a realist so let’s deal with the world the way it is shall we?
Wherever there are trails for hiking, horses, skiing, mountain biking, motos or any other activity, there are going to be secrets. In some places trails are secret because some Dear Leader has bent over to one user group and stiffed the others. In other zones secrets relieve an itch that isn’t being scratched. Many of these trails can’t take much traffic because of the terrain, because they’ll be closed or because of the way they were built. The fact is secret trails exist and will until there is no more wilderness. You can find them in Utah, Tuscany, Alberta, Hong Kong, on Maui and in B.C. – and everywhere in between.
Some of you are going to ride those trails. Right or wrong it happens. It’s a renegade world with few apparent rules, but even renegades have a code of conduct. Even if you want to go rogue like Sarah Palin you probably want to keep those sweet secret lines available and in good shape.
That wasn’t really rule 1. The Loam Ranger just knows you won’t read the intro unless you are tricked into it.
So for the love of Jebus, don’t be a dick. Here are some guidelines to shield you from that phallic moniker.
1. (for real this time) Turn off your god damned Strava. Your ego can rest for a day if you are riding a trail that is best kept under wraps. If you must record how awesome you are then make that ride private. You can still brag to your friends later. I’m sure they could use a reminder about how incredible you are. And for those making Strava segments on secret trails. Seriously. What the hell are you thinking?
2. Don’t uncover entrances like a dick. Maybe Joe Shredder doesn’t understand the situation, maybe he feels entitled to roll into every trail he finds. He’s a bid deal after all. Joe’s as wrong as Dubya declaring victory in Iraq. The best way to conceal a downhill trail is with an uphill entrance. Don’t cut your own line because you are too lazy to climb.
3. Get off your effing bike! If an entrance is hidden don’t lock up your minions and skid in just because you are too lazy to dismount. If someone has taken the time to cover an entrance there is a reason. Lift up your steed and put it down once you are safely past the concealed entrance. If carrying your bike for 30 seconds is too much effort for you it’s time to buy a razor scooter. You don’t deserve to ride a bike.
4. Don’t hang out near trail entrances or exits. Putting on pads or making some adjustments to your bike? You want to sit down and munch a Clif bar? Do it before you get to the walk-in, or out of sight down the trail.
5. Noise. Don’t make any if you can help it. This includes abundant hooting and hollering and squeaky brakes. Obviously you want to share the orgasmic two-wheeled zen you are achieving, but don’t do it at the expense of drawing too much attention to yourself or the trail.
6. Pick your days. If the monsoon is here skip the fall line loamer and ride something that can take a punch. Plush natural trails become ugly trenches if you are locking it up following Noah down the line.
7. Don’t cut corners or change existing lines. This point obviously goes for sanctioned trails as well. Nothing trashes a trail faster than Stravatards and their ilk cutting their own lines to save a few milliseconds or to beat their buddies to the bottom. Some poor builder spent days and days building a line and by creating a braid, you are taking a dump on that work. Have some respect. If the line needs modification to suit your needs then ride somewhere else.
8. Be part of the solution. There are many ways to do this. Somebody has uncovered the entrance to your favourite secret? Don’t high 5 buddy and roll in. Stash your bike and spend 5 minutes replacing the camouflage. If you are in the forest, grab some big branches as a first line and then spread some smaller leaf litter around to make it look natural. If someone is jawing off about a secret or posting on the web call them out. If your riding partner suggests riding some buttery line when the weather is nasty steer him or her in another direction.
9. Be careful about exits. Exits are often what gets stealth lines destroyed, overused or covered over. If you come maching out like you’ve just roped your first calf somebody just might notice. Stop before the end of the trail and have a listen to see if anyone is around. And just like trailheads, cover up those exits if that makes sense.
10. DON’T GIVE DIRECTIONS. Not in person, not on the web. Don’t draw a map or give GPS coordinates. Again, don’t make new segments on Strava and keep your rides private. Those who hate mountain bikers (hi there!) read mountain bike forums and web sites to get ammo to use against us. Don’t fuel their fire. If you have a worthy riding buddy, who can keep a secret, bring them along. If you don’t want to ride with them why would you want to let them in on your secret?
You think you are hardcore because you know a secret? Hardcore means you can keep a secret. One of the worst things you can do is show off by telling people the name of the trail. Smart ninja builders don’t advertise or even name their trails. Don’t mess it up to satisfy your ego.
Bring on the hate. The Loam Ranger uses it as fuel.
We may not always agree with the the Ranger, but sometimes we do. Do you?