Group Trail Riding Etiquette

Photos by Adam Booth

Off-road riding is a social exercise, and rarely do we take to the trails alone; as a result, a basic code of safety has been developed to help riders deal with two-way traffic. If you’re riding off-road, be aware that there exists a series of hand signals that riders should display when passing another group of bikes, telling the oncoming riders how many people will be following. If you are alone, you simply put your left hand up in a fist and pass on the right (the oncoming rider’s clutch side). If there are other riders behind you, use your left hand’s digits to indicate how many will follow. And to be extra communicative, each rider should do the same. So if there are five of you, the first rider should hold up four fingers; the second, three; the third, two; the fourth, one; and the last should hold up a fist. If riding in a group of more than six riders, communicate this with your left hand; never remove both hands from the handlebar at once, and always cover the front brake and use caution when riding one handed. Also, be mindful of your group. If you’re the leader and you blast ahead without checking back every mile or so, someone could have a mechanical problem or, worse, could have crashed and you would have no idea. Not only is this a safer way to ride, but it’s faster and more efficient as well. If you never get separated, you’ll stop and start together and, more importantly, finish together. Additionally, don’t be a tool. Bring your own tools. Nobody likes a mooch.