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The gaggle blocking the trail is a really frustrating one for me. The moment I see them I know they’re in their own world doing their own thing else they wouldn’t be spread across the trail. And honestly, I have no desire to break them out of that world if I can get around. So I slow down and pick an alternate line to not disturb them. Half the time they pick me up at the last second and either get startled like your friend, or scatter all directions like some multi-user frogger game. The alternative of stopping and patiently waiting for them to clear the trail can easily come off equally badly - like an entitled asshole waiting for the children to get their shit together. Even just slowly rolling up behind an oblivious hiker can result in a terrified panic when they finally notice you. You’re already at their speed with 15 feet of space and they’re suddenly clawing up an embankment like a bear is chasing them.
I’m sure most of these interactions go in the ledger against mountain biking for the users on the other end. But I don’t know how to fix it. At some point if you’re standing in a trail chatting with your back to traffic you’re going to have a bad experience. It’s hard for me to feel like an asshole - international or otherwise - for being the trail user that triggered it. While I can control my actions, other people’s emotions and anxiety are their own and I can’t take responsibility for all of it.
Sorry if this comes off as dismissive. I’m not trying to be. It’s just a difficult situation with how different mountain bikers and hikers use the same trails, and a bit frustrating that mountain bikers are expected to do 90% of f the work in bridging the gap - even on trails mountain bikers built.
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