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Editorial

Just Say Hi*

Words Pete Chambers
Date Oct 19, 2018

This seems more critical every time I ride. Aren’t we on the same team, of the same tribe, born of the same dirt mother… Okay – that’s probably taking it too far. But there is far more that unites our weird subculture than wheel size, clothing preference or pedal choice could divide. And yet this should apply to other trail users as well, the greater tribe of humans who appreciate putting feet on dirt. 

*originally published December 3rd, 2014 - and even more true today as new riders enter the sport


Hi, greetings, gutentag, konnichiwa, ciao, bonjour. You get the idea. It’s an ancient salutation, an icebreaker. A good old how-do-you-do. It doesn’t have to take long, but a brief acknowledgement of your fellow dirt-riding humans goes a long way.

Years ago there weren’t many of us on the trails, so when you came across another member of homo sapiens on two wheels a little chinwag was in order. Fast forward to now that there are quite a few folks out and about, a new dynamic is occurring. Folks are just cruising by on the trails without saying boo. It’s happening more and more often. When I pass someone, or more likely get passed, I have to pry a hi out of them, or shock them with an ambush hello. What’s that about?

Here in B.C. there aren’t a lot of motorcycles, and that scarcity binds them together. You’ll see two motos pass on the street, one a bearded Angels wannabe, the other a metrosexual on a crotch rocket, and they’ll give each other an air-scooping left hand wave; an acknowledgement that puts their common ground ahead of their differences.

bikerwave

Even when your bike is clean and your kit is brand new you should take a little time to say hello to the little people.

Clearly you aren’t going to say hi to everyone you see in a bike park but if you happen to stop in the same low-traffic spot would a how’s-it-going kill you? This becomes critical when a rider appears to have a problem. One day that’s going to be your broken down ass and it’ll be sweet music when you hear, “hey buddy – are you okay?” You can’t start filling that karma account too early.

Recently I talked to one of our sage trail builders who just finished refurbishing a wicked local trail. Standing off to the side of his handiwork he was amazed to be passed by a whole crew, none of whom acknowledged his existence. What the… ? I get it. Wicked flow. Strava! Enduro! But c’mon, without these folks out tweaking our trails we’d be riding brake-bumpy, baby head-riddled pieces of crap.

bmx

If dirt jumpers can take a moment to say hello – shouldn’t we all?

First year university students are studied like lab rats and one key finding involves how bros get to be bros. Researchers looked at socioeconomic factors, race, creed – virtually every indicator at their disposal – and then checked in a few years later to see who had formed deep bonds. It turns out proximity was the biggest indicator. You were most likely to develop a close friendship with whoever happened to be closest to you, suggesting the more we know about each other the more we might actually like the jerk next to us.

And yet modern urban society continues to become more fragmented and isolating. Peer groups narrow until the folks we socialize with rarely disagree with us. They probably make about the same coin, are similarly edumacated and drink Smirnoff Ice just like you. And they almost certainly vote the same way. And yet we get scared by anybody we aren’t already acquainted with.

When you greet a fellow rider (cue patriotic theme music) you are also saying that we are brothers and sisters, brought together by the love of sweet single track. That what what binds us is more important than what divides us. Our order doesn’t have a secret handshake, a gang sign or even common colours – but we know our tribe. Even off the bike we notice chainring tattoos, plaid shirts, scarred shins and flat brim hats. Rise up riders! Solidify and strengthening the tribe with the one word greeting of your choice.


This is not a commandment from up on high. This is just a knob who has ridden his bike more than a couple of times, making an observation.Take it or leave it, crumple it up or give it a try. It’s just hot air, and with that I say my fave hello/goodbye: salut!

Comments

denomerdano
+1 Andrew Hewitson
Denomerdano  - May 24, 2016, 8:59 a.m.

Thats how I met @boomforeal:disqus , but now he won't return my calls cause I still ride 26″ .

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Brocklanders
0
yahs  - May 23, 2016, 11:47 a.m.

All seems to be quite friendly on the shore. The weekends has a douchebag factor but spring/ summer mid week after work has a really friendly vibe. I too get offended when ignored but I'm working on that. Many people are insecure and just don't want to engage, that's cool it's their loss. Rode Seymour yesterday, everybody said hello or a nod. Was a great day.

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niels@nsmb.com
0
Niels  - May 24, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

That's my experience too. Having lived in a few different cities/provinces/states/countries/continents, I'd rank the Shore above average for friendliness and greetings. On busier days fewer people will greet, I think that's natural. Last weekend I rode in Laguna Beach, lots of trail users, barely anyone said hi, only a few responded to my greetings. Lots of people wearing headphones. I don't judge their behaviour. Maybe if you live in LA you need to close yourself off from other people sometimes to get some peace and quiet.

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powderturns
0
Mike  - May 23, 2016, 7:10 a.m.

We have the opposite problem where I live. Last guy I started BSing with told me his life story and we got caught in a thunderstorm. It's even worse when you actually know the people you bump into.

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NickB
+1 Mammal
nick bitar  - May 23, 2016, 3:38 a.m.

I'm from Australia and spent a summer in Vancouver a few years ago.

I would ride up Fromme on random midweek mornings by myself, always a little nervous because I was a little out of my depth.
But I needn't have worried. Because I never rode down alone, not even once! I would continuously meet the coolest people from all walks of life, engineers and preachers, some slower than me and some faster (OK, most). People would share hints and tips, secret trails and their favorite local bars. All that mattered was that you rode a bike.

I still keep in contact with a few of those wonderful people. I've since flown back to Canada to do the BC Bike race with a guy I met on Ladies.

Yea, you may meet the occasional dick but I still say that mountain bikers are good people.

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andrewbikeguide
+3 Velocipedestrian Mammal James Vasilyev
AndrewR  - Dec. 6, 2014, 1:46 p.m.

I am having a 'mare with dusk/ afternoon trail runners at the moment, I am climbing as hard as I can, trying to get my pre-ski season fitness (puffing like a chain smoker), riding my side of the double track and the next thing I know I have a trail runner in my handle bars and face because they have taken the downhill inside line on a blind corner and they are running with head phones in so did not hear me. Multi-use double track, if you are going take 20% of your senses away at dusk by wearing headphones then you had better be using the other 80% properly. I just nod, check they are okay (a stem in the ballsack or stomach has to hurt somewhat) and continue my ride. One of them even got at me for not having my lights on the other day at three in the afternoon. I thought "pot-kettle" (he wasn't wearing anything hi-vis) but just thanked him for the reminder and rolled on my way. If I read "trail runner eaten by cougar" in the local paper I will only hope that cougar did not hurt his teeth on the MP3 player.

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JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - Oct. 19, 2018, 10:09 a.m.

most are great, but i know exactly the type you're writing about. many more of them on the NS than there is here in the stix thankfully.

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x
0
x  - Dec. 5, 2014, 12:17 p.m.

Cyclists with poor social skills?!?!!!

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stravillain
+2 Mammal James Vasilyev
stravillain  - Dec. 4, 2014, 12:55 p.m.

Great article, totally agree with the positive tone and connecting with trail users especially when society in general is getting more and more disconnected. We are all mountain bikers (or at least trail users) and it does unite us in a way.

I mostly ride solo and don't like stopping or interrupting my flow but for the most part have at least a hello, smile or nod to everyone I come across, (and fwiw I've done that mid KOM run plenty of times, so don't be so quick to blame strava ) I do my best to be a good trail user. I generally don't choose to start conversations but I'm always open to them and often enjoy random chats trail side. I also think that we as riders have a responsibility to go out of our way to at least smile or say hello to other user groups, whether you're in the mood or not, it's a public relations issue.

However, I will say this… while there's no excuse to not at least nod or acknowledge trail users you come across, not everyone wants to stop and chat or say hello while out riding. I totally support someones right to do that and not be viewed as some kind of asshole. I'm not advocating being ANTI-social and definitely not saying it's cool to blow off a friendly hello or ignore another rider, that's a dick move. I just think there's a bit of an unwritten social contract among some riders that if you're not super outgoing on the trails you're a dick.

I think our society in general doesn't respect introversion and treats it either as shyness or anti-social. People have a right to keep to themselves whether or not it's considered proper etiquette or good for the sport's image. I think there's a lot of introverted riders that enjoy time alone to reflect or "check out" while they're on the trails. If they don't want to open up, you don't necessarily need to be insulted or view all mountain bikers as elitist.

All that being said: the more smiles, hellos, nods and friendly interactions - the better experience we'll all have on the trails!

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Dec. 4, 2014, 9:38 p.m.

Woah… regular KOMs & friendly to all other trails users??? If you also put in there that you never take STRAVA-lines (AKA braids) I'd have to ask who taught a unicorn to ride bicycles.

I don't think anyone is asking for folks to stop and make coffee trail side, provide free foot massages, or hand out copies of The Watchtower.

A simple smile and "how does it", slowing down or yielding the trail as the situation dictates, and leaving the head phones at home (or at least turning your Nickelback-&-Celine Dion playlist down a bit) is perfect.

Reply

nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Dec. 5, 2014, 8:42 a.m.

For sure, it's only the acknowledgement of other people that's mandatory in my view. People should otherwise be free to keep to themselves if they prefer. And I totally agree that introversion is commonly disrespected, though that's a bigger discussion.

As for assertions (by others) that STRAVA makes people assholes, I'd say a lot of people don't have their eye on the ball with that. It's a timing and tracking app that allows for comparison with others, nothing more. Of course some assholes take it too far and it facilitates their shitty behaviour, but some assholes don't use it (and they're still assholes) and some people who aren't assholes use it (and you wouldn't even know it out on the trail). Is that too complicated to understand?

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dfiler
0
dfiler  - Sept. 1, 2015, 8:59 a.m.

I totally agree, our culture views introversion negatively, perhaps even bordering on contempt. For some reason, especially in America, introversion is seen as something to be changed or "fixed". It is seen as a shortcoming. That isn't true everywhere.

In my opinion it is unjustified to want everyone else to conform to your own preferred way of socializing. Silent trail users aren't hurting anyone and have no ill-intent. They aren't being rude and have no affect on your day. Why turn their silent passing into a controversy? Why get worked up over it?

Personally, I sometimes only offer a head nod or a grunt. I am willing to bet that other people sometimes don't see or hear my response or greeting and then throw a hissy fit. Whatever. If they want to ruin their own day because someone doesn't conform to their selfish expectations, so be it. I don't hate them but also don't see any reason to change my harmless behavior. I'm happily enjoying the woods and they should be too.

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john-canfield
+1 Cam McRae
John Canfield  - May 26, 2016, 4:32 p.m.

A little goes a long way. You don't need to be gushing or convivial- but the skipping the simple acknowledgment of another human isn't "introversion"- its being insular.

The snub pass just isn't cool. Just say "hi", or smile. It doesn't take much.

Reply

thebikingbuddha
0
Jas Dhiman  - Dec. 4, 2014, 9:54 a.m.

Great post, very well written and funny. And just another point to add, say Hi to the hikers as well. There is a big difference in the impression left behind between a full faced jerk racing by cutting them off and someone who stops in the trail and acknowledges the hiker(s) with a simple Hello.

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Dec. 4, 2014, 11:59 a.m.

Totally! I always slow down to a walking pace when I encounter hikers, especially if they have kids or dogs with them. A smile and a quick "Hi how's it going?" goes a long way to keep everyone feeling good about each other.

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Brocklanders
0
yahs  - May 25, 2016, 7:12 a.m.

This^

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nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Dec. 3, 2014, 8:22 p.m.

I almost always ride on my own and pretty much every ride manage to share at least a greeting with every trail user I cross paths with. So, while I don't think there's a cultural problem in the areas I have ridden (North Shore and around Brisbane, Australia), I would hate for one to develop. I'll actually go further to say that as a consequence of my experience I feel that MTB has an awesome sport in terms of culture. As a keen viewer of world cups and FMB events it seems that way at the top too. Anyway, I don't mean to trash this piece- I like it. Of course I have experienced and viewed exceptions to what I wrote above, and it always irks me when someone ignores a hello on the trails or is an ass on camera. I grew up surfing in Australia and my experience of the culture there was awful. I'd dearly like MTB culture to stay somewhat as it is now.

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pudskies
+1 Velocipedestrian
Pudskies  - Dec. 3, 2014, 7:46 p.m.

I was out on a local trail in Squamish during the summer (credit line). I was stopping on the side of the trail to raise my seat and a couple of lycra clad xc dudes come up. I say "Hey, hows it going?" the first one rode right by me without a word, the second guy briefly glanced and barely said hi as he went by. I was thinking what the heck is their problem? I don't wear lycra when I ride, nor do I have an xc bike (burlier AM bike), but I didn't think just because I am not so xc that I didn't deserve their time. So they proceed on up the trail and clean a pretty difficult climb. Needless to say I was impressed because I haven't seen anyone do it before. I follow along and I get to the top of the climb and start the descent. Around a couple of corners I come up on them because the first guy has gone OTB on a little rock roll. The other guy is explaining to him how he approaches the obstacle, so I stop and say "wow that climb was impressive, nice one." This time they choose not to look at me, ignore me all together and keep on talking about the roll. I couldn't believe that even though they were stopped, that they still decided not to talk to me. I rode by them and didn't see them again, but I couldn't help myself from thinking about what our world has come to when people act like that towards others on the trail.

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Jerry-Rig
0
Jerry Willows  - Dec. 4, 2014, 8:31 a.m.

KOM brah

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andrewbikeguide
+1 Velocipedestrian Mammal Mike-E
AndrewR  - Dec. 6, 2014, 1:39 p.m.

Really odd behaviour for sure. I bet if the OTB had been a little more severe and you were the first one with first aid kit they might have been a little more friendly. But living as one would hope to be treated is the only way to go and that karma wheel will gently lift those that contribute and roll over those that don't.

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gt-dad
0
GT dad  - Oct. 21, 2018, 10:37 a.m.

LycraTard strava jerks. Probably ride road bikes too. ime roadies break every road rule and are rude as fxxk. EG riding back down road from circuit 8 during my knee rehab  time I was turning off left to go on a side trail just after hard ride corner on the outside of corner marked as a slow zone. , I signalled left  and almost got creamed by an asshole roadie passing me on the left in the oncoming lane at warpspeed on the outside of the turn (again this is well marked slow zone) . He proceeded to scream at me like it was my fault for him almost T boning me. Fxxking typical roadie  jerk.

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boomforeal
0
boomforeal  - Dec. 3, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

great editorial!

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Dec. 3, 2014, 8:37 a.m.

That courtesy almost goes double for trailbuilders. Without them there wouldn't be much to ride. A hi/ how's it going/ thanks for the great work/ offering a hand/ is the very least that we can do.

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john-utah
+1 Mammal
John Utah  - Dec. 3, 2014, 9:28 a.m.

First time I rode espresso , I ran into digger as hew was still working on it. I stopped and gave him a hug and thanked him.
Too much? dunno but he deserved it:)

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 3, 2014, 10:19 a.m.

Awesome! How did he react?

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john-utah
0
John Utah  - Dec. 7, 2014, 7:43 a.m.

He said thank you , and go ride it and have fun..

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giddyupPG
0
giddyupPG  - Dec. 3, 2014, 8:26 a.m.

This is amazing! One thing that frustrates me about mountain biking is the lack of friendliness and/or elitist attitude of some. Saying hi and waving on a trail goes a long way, and makes the experience more enjoyable. After all, we're all out doing (more-or-less) the same thing!

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slimshady76
0
Luix  - Dec. 3, 2014, 3:40 a.m.

Spot on article. As DrewM said before me, just sharing the trails with hikers begs to be educated enough to salute those you cross when riding. But keeping the etiquette with those of your own kind is mandatory, especially when those folks could be the ones handing you that chain breaker you could swear you stashed in your backpack before leaving home, or in a simpler way, good people to share a drink and a laugh after the ride.

I try to pass this to the newer generations we encounter down our local trail system, when we say we must share the trails, it's not some sort of unwritten traffic law. It's about sharing the EXPERIENCE. And part of that is communicating with those you run into down the path. Some time ago I met one of the best riders I know that way, when he was taking a break and helped me correct my jumping technique. We're close friends from that day on, and almost ten years have passed…

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Dec. 3, 2014, 2:55 a.m.

Well written with a fun tone and a great message Pete!

If I may suggest one itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka… I mean edit: remove every reference to rider and replace it with trail user.

I ride a lot of early days (7am/8am) and a lot of nights after dark and see just as many hikers and runners generally as I do riders -- we're all out enjoying the woods and when the shit hits the fan we all have eachothers backs.

Trail Associations have taken a lot of steps to try and bring these users on board -- many hands make light work and more user groups = more legit in the eyes on the land managers. Let's make sure we're smiling and saying hello to everyone in the woods!

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Dec. 3, 2014, 8:16 a.m.

Great addition Drew!

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ben
0
Ben  - Dec. 4, 2014, 4:16 a.m.

Very much agreed, a smile and hello goes a long way in helping people see riders as legit and complementary (and not conflicting) trail users.

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mammal
+1 Cam McRae
Mammal  - Oct. 19, 2018, 10:22 a.m.

For a more recent comment, I see this all the time on the Fromme fire road. I'm usually 80/20 ratio for passing groups vs. being passed, but I always give a one-handed wave as I pass/am passed. When solo, I'm a headphones guy (yes, I'm one of those), but still make sure to issue an overly-loud "Hi", or "Hey".  

The other day I passed a guy who seemed to be struggling up the last segment to 7th, while I gleefully spun a good cadence and sipped from the beer in my left hand... I fully understand why that guy didn't return the greeting as I passed. I probably would have flipped me off if I was that guy.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 19, 2018, 2 p.m.

Awesome!

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MattyB
+1 Cam McRae
MattyB  - Oct. 19, 2018, 12:49 p.m.

I always try to be very friendly to all the people I see while out on the trails, I mean I'm playing bikes why wouldn't you be cheery. 

When I went on a solo riding trip to Moab I always managed to find a riding just by chatting at the trailhead and being nice to people as they went by. Met a group of doctors from california, and their friends from detroit. Met a nice couple and their australian friend as we goofed around down the enchilada.

Saying hi to people isn't just a nice thing to do, you can meet some rad people that are gonna make you ride more enjoyable.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 19, 2018, 2:01 p.m.

Americans are often friendlier than Canadians. We may worry too much about looking cool.

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Dannylevesque27
+1 Adrian White
Dannylevesque27  - Oct. 20, 2018, 7:31 a.m.

I came to north Vancouver to spend the summer learning how to ride. I'm from Edmonton sadly. I met some people on the climb at fromme and we talked, rode some trails together and then the next weekend we day tripped and shuttled squamish. Those guys and I are in constant contact and planning next summer trios all ready. I absolutely love the north shore and loved my pilgrimage there. I'll be back next summer and I'll be making friends again!

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