Keyboard Warrior VS EnduroBro Stravadude
Dear Uncle Dave,
There has recently been a lively discussion on the NSMB forum, and we need you to weigh in on the matter. An incident took place on a busy January day on Seymour where a group ascending the new climbing trail decided to take a break and regroup at the intersection with a black diamond descending trail (Severed). While the climbing group was waiting, a trail of “sponsored endurbros” came ripping down the descent, passing the waiting group too closely for comfort.
The person who started the thread, part of the climbing group, suggested that the descenders were disrespectful of the waiting group and should have slowed down to reduce accident potential. However, overwhelmingly, the forum-dwellers weighed in, stating that the onus is on those who are stopped to do so out of the way of riders who are moving.
As the discussion continued, a third perspective emerged, that the trail intersection design was flawed and should be modified to mitigate conflict. Several alternate designs were suggested.
In your opinion, what is the best trail intersection design to avoid similar issues in the future? An overpass, a traffic circle, a tunnel, or a 4-way stop with a traffic cop?
Nice! A ripped from the Bulletin Boards Uncle Dave, rich with entitled judgement and meta-Shoreness. Without overly taxing the imagination, it’s quite easy to close your eyes and picture the lycra-clad climbers, sharing a bag of granola and shaking their fists at the goggle wearers racing to the bottom to apply more decals to their lifted pick-up trucks. Amazing, amazing stuff.
The whole thing reminds me a bit of high school. Every once in a while two bullies would take a break from harassing small children and decide that they needed to beat up on one another instead. Hundreds of kids would gather out in the parking lot and cheer for the maximum amount of bloodshed. Nobody really cared who won, they just hoped that both parties would end up in the hospital and leave everybody else alone for a few days. The self-righteousness on display here leaves me feeling like there isn’t a winner, there shouldn’t be one, and hopefully these two groups just disappear into the woods for a while to sort out their own problems.
I’m tempted to take the side of the climbers. Almost all of us have encountered an overly aggressive descender (and if we’re being honest, we’ve all probably been an overly aggressive descender at some point and time) and hoped that their bike explodes and they break several limbs. Just the other day, Kaz and I were out taking some photos. Three or four other riders passed us by as we puttered about, and we exchanged friendly hellos. And then a ‘Sponsored endurbro’ came riding on through…
What sort of people have decided that the fastest way down the mountain only needs to roughly approximate the path of the trail? If the only way you can win at Strava is to cut 3-4 feet off each corner, you’re not fast. You’re a cheater. Stop it. It’s not a race course. The only people that give a shit are the 10 other idiots that have joined you on your insignificant crusade of self-deception. So I can definitely understand why the climbers were feeling frustrated.
But then again…
Why are people standing in the middle of a downhill trail (any trail, really)? What kind of person almost gets run over by somebody completing the activity that the space he is blocking was designed for? And then gets further into the way for the next guy coming? And then takes to the Internet to complain about it (ya ya, glass houses)? I’d hate to see how this guy responds to people driving dangerously on the highway. I understand that the motivations here were pure, but the saying “two wrongs don’t make a right” is well known for a reason.
The heart of this problem is that everybody feels like they are always right, and if somebody else is doing it a little bit differently, they are obviously wrong. If you’re faster than me you’re a maniac. If you’re slower than me you’re a nuisance. Of course the descenders were inconsiderate madmen and of course the climbers were busy-bodied fun killers. We don’t have it within us to judge it any other way.
That’s why we have laws and rules. Nobody can be trusted to judge their own actions. Here are some thoughts from a relatively impartial 3rd Party:
- The trails are for everybody. They’re not your personal race course, and they’re not your Sunday morning mushroom picking classroom. Conduct yourself in a way that shows you accept the premise that you’re not all that important and nobody outside of your immediate family (and probably not even them) really cares all that much about you.
- If you’re going to stop on the trail, don’t stand in the way. Allow room for people to ride by. This includes your bike. And your backpack. And your dog. And your dog’s shit.
- If you’re approaching people stopped on the trail, it wouldn’t hurt to make eye contact, ease up a tiny, tiny bit, and then proceed through in a way that doesn’t freak everybody out. Shit, if you’re feeling really generous you could even stop and see if they need assistance.
- Can we again touch on it not being your personal race course? Ride the trail, not your bro-terpretation of it. Consider that somebody is going to have to fix your berm-busting awesomeness. Accept that you’re not that fast and the people you blow by most likely aren’t going to go home and tell all their friends about the greatest cyclist in the world that passed them on the trail in a cloud of amazing.
- Don’t be a dick to hikers. I can say with absolute certainty that none of them give a shit about your Strava times, or that you’re about to about to pull off the sickest turn on the illest line on the shore. Slow down. Slower. Stop even. Make eye contact. Pull off the trail or slowly ride through. Unless it’s cycling primary. Then, I mean…passive aggressive stares are in order, for sure.
I haven’t been through this area in a while, but it does sound like there could be some improvements in the trail design here. Some sort of squirrel catcher to slow people down on the descent? A sign telling people to yield? I don’t know. This shit shouldn’t really be all that complicated.
And lastly, there’s a whole pile of trails out there. It’s not all that difficult to find a time and place where it isn’t necessary to jockey for position with other large groups of humans. Especially if you’re the kind of person that finds themselves in the middle of lots of conflict, consider changing things up a bit.
Was everyone wrong here? Even the trails?