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Trail Etiquette

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I just received my monthly Thumper Talk News Letter and one of the recommended links was "Trail Etiquette - Hand Signals" unfortunately it is a locked post, thus the reason for this one.

Recently I posted an article on this issue on our local dirt bike forum "e-dirt" here in South Africa after a tragic incident that happened to a youngster on a fun out-ride with mates. Last week we had another incident that claimed the life of a Quad Bike rider when he had a head on collision with another Quad Biker.

I thought I would share a few things with you...OK, some only really apply to us here in South Africa due to our very different riding terrain and circumstances...but anyway, hope this helps and if this article saves at least someone from injury or even worse, loss of life...then it`s worth posting:thumbsup:

Reading about the Hammarsdale tragedy has prompted me to write this post regarding riding ethics, especially Group riding ethics. Since reading about the young man that lost his life I have found myself wondering why this happened and what could be done in the future to prevent this sort of thing ever happening again. This boy was only 24 years old and lost his life, because in my opinion (Dont know all the facts about the incident, so only speculating as to what happened), some simple rules about riding in groups were possibly not followed and possibly a lack of some common sense.

A few things that come to mind and that were discussed at our riders briefing when I did the Enduro Africa last year where we have got 15 -20 complete novice foreigners (per team), that could hardly ride bikes and had at most watched a dirt bike DVD, and we had to get these guys 1400km across technical terrain over a period of 9 days.

Some of the points here are from that briefing and some are my own views and I welcome additional points. I did a previous post similar to this one some time ago, and it ended up being a very good, informative post (Was deleted in the big clean up..and I never made a copy…so its lost….unless someone has a copy)

Group Riding Etiquette

Group rides can be difficult. Each rider in a group has their own ideas and expectations for the ride. Some might want to ride hard and fast while others want to take it easy, or don’t have the ability to ride hard and fast, each rider will have varying skill levels and equipment capabilities. As the size of your group increases so does the diversity of opinions and abilities. Drastic diversity can easily ruin an otherwise good ride and also end up being dangerous!

It's difficult to keep a large group moving, therefore, keep personal breaks short. Unnecessary breaks include too many photo stops, smoke breaks, rest breaks, taking your helmet off at every stop, stopping your engine at every stop, etc. Such breaks signal other members of the group to do the same after which it takes several minutes to get going again. Nothing is more annoying when you are raring to ride than a group that keeps stopping to chat! On long rides, especially in remote terrain, you'll find the sun going down sooner than you think—a dangerous situation! To minimize stops, plan designated rest stops for group rehab/hydration ahead of time and let everyone know.

Plan and provide yourself with enough sleep and nutrition so that you are healthy and ready to ride the entire outing.

Make certain that your equipment is in top shape and ready to ride BEFORE leaving on your ride. Performing work on your bike while everyone is waiting on you is discourteous! A bike that breaks down due to lack of maintenance ruins everyone's day, especially when its km`s from home

Don't impinge on others by asking them to provide supplies that you failed to bring. Plan well and keep a checklist that you can refine and reuse for future trips.

Don't invite a friend without checking with the group first. If your friend doesn't mesh with the group or can't keep up then no one will want him along again and he won't enjoy himself. Wait for a different trip or plan your own trip where your friend can fit in well.

Group Safety

Ride together. Don't lose track of who is in front of, and behind you. Maintaining unity is everyone's responsibility.

Wait for others to catch up periodically. This ensures they haven't fallen or strayed off-track.

STOP at all turns in the ride. Make sure the rider behind you doesn't become lost.

If you lose someone or become lost, STOP! ALWAYS RETURN TO THE POINT WHERE LAST SEEN AND WAIT.

Never ride beyond your ability! Slowing down the group is much better than ending the whole trip due to an injury. An injury twenty Km`s into the wilderness might mean a cold night and discomfort for all involved.

Always know where you are at in case YOU become the rescuer. Know where and how to get help.

Etiquette For Planning A Group Ride

Consider everyone in the group and their abilities and expectations. It's not fair to plan an outing that EVERYONE will not enjoy!

Make certain that everyone knows exactly what type of out ride you are planning and what is to be expected as far as skill-level and intensity. An average rider might not want to join an advanced ride. Likewise, an advanced rider might opt out if there is little challenge; but not necessarily! Advanced riders enjoy social, casual rides, too, just not every time. Let everyone know what to expect.

If the size and diversity of your group is too great, consider breaking into two groups, each with a different plan matching their ability or expectations. For example: a longer, more difficult ride for advanced riders. Just make sure each group has a competent leader.

If you do break into separate groups, remember this: If you invited someone on a trip, it's not right to put them with another group of people unless that was their expectation to begin with! If you invited them, you are obligated to accommodate them.

Plan multiple rides. Invite smaller groups to more advanced rides, and invite everybody to the easier fun rides. This makes everyone feel included.

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A list of 40 basic points all us dirt bikers should adhere to.

'Some basic riding ethics for all dirt bikers. If we all stick to the basics, riding becomes safer. Its all about respect for each other, the land we ride on, land owners and their property.'

1. Do not litter, clean up after yourself.

2. Respect wild animals and locals livestock, never chase animals, pass animals at a slow speed.

3. When you encounter horse riders, turn off your bike and allow them to pass.

4. Do not speed in the pits and car parks, stones may damage cars and injure people.

5. When on out rides, never ride to closely to the rider in front of you, always allow at least a 10 to 15 meter gap.

6. Never overtake another rider on an out ride, rather wait untill the group stops and then arrange with the rider that you change places.

7. Always try point out danger situations to the rider behind you by pointing to the danger.

8. Always use hand signals to indicate to riders behind you about turning left or right or to slow down.

9. If you loose your group, wait at the last place you saw them, never go looking for the group ,someone will go back to find you.

10. Always wait for the rider behind you and be certain he knows which direction to go.

11. When you go on a ride with someone you have never ridden with before ensure that you all know each other capablities and riding levels.

12. On outrides we sometimes use the same terrain as guys on mountain bikes. Try to move out of their way if they come from the front and pass them slowly

13. Some riders enter a MX track from an outride and don't make 100% sure what direction it goes in. Make 100% sure before you go on it. if in boubt, ask someone.

14. When arranging an out ride always ensure all riders are of similar riding level.

15. When leading an out ride, always set the ride pace according to the slowest rider in your group

16. Always wear safety cloathing

17. When you and your group stop for a break, make sure its not on a blind corner or on the racing line

18. When leading a ride, take care around blind corners to avoid head on collisions

19. When you approach a group from the opposite direction, always indicate the number of riders in your group

20. Before you go on your out ride count the number of riders in your group and check the numbers on a regular basis.

21. When you approach a built up area or settlement, reduce speed to minimize dust and noise

22. Always stop and ask if all is well when you come across a rider or group on the side of the trail

23. Never ride alone, even if you have a cell phone with you

24. Always stop at a road crossing, even if its not a busy road, wait for your whole group to cross before you carry on

25. Never wheelie or try show off in front of people, this is normally when things go wrong.

26. Hydration is important, drink at regular intervals when riding to avoid de-hydration.

27. Always carry money with you on an outride....you never know what you might need it.

28. Ensure you have your own spare spark plug and tyre weld..they are expensive things just to give away, even when a promise to replace is made..never happens.

29. Always carry a basic First Aid Kit with you

30. Booze and bikes dont mix, dont drink and ride

31. When riding on a MX track, dont move over for a faster rider, keep your line, the faster rider will find a way past

32. In a race, when a faster rider catches you, dont decide its now time to try race him, he caught you, so he is faster than you, let him past as soon as its safe.

33. When a slower rider allows you to pass, thank him by a simple gesture of gratitude, either lifting your hand or leg.

34. When racing, check behind you every now and then when its safe to ensure a rider is not behind you trying to pass, some bikes are very quiet.

35. In a race, if you do get lost, and have to ride against the race direction, do this at low speed and if possible, off the obvious race line.

36. When going on an outride and the outride happens to be marked ensure that you are made aware of the markings and that you know how they work. eg: keep single marking on your left etc...

37. When possible always ride with a cell phone and give your number to the lead rider as well as an emergency contact persons number

38. If you are a smoker, use a little water from your tripper to to kill the smoke before you toss it onto the ground, this way you are certain its out and it wont start a bush fire.

39. Never give the locals or their kids a lift on your bike or quad, if they get hurt, you will be held responsible, its just not worth it.

40. Never lift anyone on a bike or quad not designed to do so. The risk of accidents are just too high

Edited by Thor928

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