Putting the record straight…

… one thing at a time.

Something happened yesterday’s mountain bike ride, which saddened me a little. As someone who participates in what is (sometimes) seen as a minority sport, there may be pockets of ignorance and fear among those looking in from outside.

I’ll try and set the scene. It’s a wet day, not “otter’s pocket” territory but not far removed. I reach the brow of a tiny incline, and see there are pedestrians sharing the trail. I’m at sufficient distance to shout out a friendly “Hello!”.

At this point I’ll interrupt the narrative to let you (dear reader) know that hydraulic brakes sometimes make a lot of noise in the wet. This is undesirable, but does not indicate a malfunction. The reason why I run hydraulics is that they continue to work in the wet.

So I’ve dabbed the brakes at the summit. Squeeek!
Shouted out to indicate I’m here, and I’m just human like everyone else.
I start to roll down the incline.
Squeeek!
Controlling my speed sensibly, so people don’t feel like they’re in danger.
Squeeek!
I need to keep two hands on the handlebars, I’m modulating the braking force to prevent skidding.
Squeeek!

In a blatant display of ignorance, some old biddy says “Bell?”

Having slept on it, and scratched my head several times, I still can’t think of a reasonable explanation for comments like the above.

Therefore I conclude it was borne out of ignorance.

In conclusion the time is now to set the record straight:

  1. There is no requirement (in common or criminal law) for any cyclist to carry a bell.
  2. While I have a tongue in my mouth, and breath in my lungs, I will shout out to any other trail user. I will not change my behaviour depending on the mode of transport of the other trail user(s).
  3. While I am riding any bike it is often dangerous to remove my hands from the controls. I can retain control of the bike with my hands at the controls.
    This applies on and off the roads, by the way.
  4. I will always share trails in a responsible way, and will always make the safe choice.
  5. If a trail is a right-of-way or not is beyond the scope of this statement.

In the situation I described above, the ignorant walker was aware that I was present. She was aware there were other trail users present. Yet she chose to behave in an arrogant and confrontational manner, while clinging on to an incorrect presumption. To be honest, I feel sorry for you that you’re stuck in that cognitive loop from which you’re unlikely to escape.

This trail is a permissive route for cyclists. As the landowner has given informed consent, then the opinion of a minority of walkers counts for exactly nothing.

Thank you for reading.

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