I want to address trail etiquette, ethics and our collective responsibility as mountain bikers to The Mountain. I’ve ridden my fair share of single track over the years and and the more I frequent specific systems, the more I start to notice wear and tear. Some of it’s just what goes along with the territory as trail systems grow and more riders find their way to the trailhead. But other types of wear and tear is careless. I’m talking about trail widening. Cutting corners. B-lines. Etc. This kind of stuff is not acceptable. As mountain bikers we owe respect to the mountain we enjoy and we must take it upon ourselves to play steward to those trails. It all starts with education. Followed by skill development. And self enforced via ethics which is bigger than you, me or the industry. That’s a silent unwritten code we all adhere to which I’m just going to call: Respect the Mountain. Here in my particular part of the Northeast, a good amount of the local network is on private land by land owner permission. This is a partnership between mountain bikers and the land owner. Communication and education on both sides is vital. Respecting the land is paramount. That means careful stewardship and construction of the trails and the land so that the system is here for generations to enjoy. When out on a ride this translates to sticking to the trail. No cutting corners and definitely no creating cheater lines around obstacles. This results in trail widening and essentially “dumbing” down the trail system. This is where skill development plays a big role. We should all be looking to progress and hone our skills because the trails depend on our abilities to stay safe and stick to the line that’s been built. And finally, this is where ethics plays a role. If you’re looking to create trails, you gotta ask for permission. If there’s a local group that you can work with, I’m sure they’d love your time and elbow grease. Look to the landowners for guidance and permission first. Help buddies learn new skills by taking the time to educate. Pass on knowledge to strangers in kind. Clean up trash and repair trails when you have the time. This is a group effort and it takes all of our collective heads to put our best foot forward as mountain bikers and stewards to our trail systems. Respect the Mountain.