There’s been a lot of confusion lately about trail etiquette, especially when it comes to dealing with other people in the woods, so here is a synopsis directly from the International Mountain Bike Association and the Southern Offroad Bicycle Association, sweetly translated by me:
Yield Appropriately: That means you need to be warning people that you’re about to come flying up on them while they are quietly photographing dragonflies. By the way, all pedestrians have the right of way, whether on the road or in the woods. You, being a high-speed weapon, doesn’t mean they better “watch out!” Know to watch out around the turns. Look for oncoming traffic, just like you would in a car.
Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. I think I’m going to make bumper stickers and jerseys that say this. People seem to be verrrrry confused about this simple and obvious rule. When someone is sucking wind, why ever would you expect them to stop, let alone restart on an incline?!
Try not to ride the trails when they are too wet. It causes erosion and damages the trail. This means that even if the day after flooding is sunny and warm and you’re itching to ride, either hit the road or some high elevation where it’s not likely to be a quagmire. Take note that well-built trails will drain quicker.
Ride in the middle of the trail and learn to pedal over the obstacles – fallen trees, roots, rocks, etc. Going around that stuff means the trail will become wider, because the next lazy rider will do the same thing. Getting off the bike is the way to go if it’s too technical, but why not take a learning opportunity and go back and do it again until you’re able? And God forbid, don’t go ripping out vegetation that happens to be in the way of your minimal skill level.
Do not create a bypass trail around a fallen tree. Land managers hate this. It’s far more fun to fall off the top of such a tree, precariously teetering across your big ring. It’s especially useless to reach the ground at this point. However, it’s a great idea to lift and fling your bike over it. After all of that, just call a trail advocate to report it.
Ride on open trails only. No poaching. Even if you’re ultra-cool.