Guide to Outdoor Etiquette

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed by our etiquette expert do not reflect the views of S+B staff. In fact, in most cases, we probably would advise doing the opposite of what is recommended here.

What can I do about rude drivers when I am cycling?

      —  Steve, Grand Junction CO

Not much I can say here, nor as a cyclist is there much you can do, but let me take a stab at it. There is nothing scarier and more disheartening than having somebody blow past you on your bike two feet away as they lay on the horn because they think they are “Ram tough.” First, to those idiot drivers, a 1992 study* showed that people who harassed bikers while in their car or truck overwhelmingly suffered from massive self-confidence issues. Newsflash: Your day won’t be ruined by slowing down and going wide while passing a couple of cyclists. Unfortunately, you can’t fix stupid, but the state can give them a driver’s license.

    My best advice for riders is to stick to the unbelievable bike path we have to get you out to the quiet roads of the valley. I often ride the path out to Fruita, take the cut through James Robb State Park and head north of town, where 99% of the drivers are great. However, sometimes you want to ride the Monument or some of the other great roads around town. For this, I try to be respectful and mindful of drivers and stay out of their way. When cars come upon us, we do our best to ride single file as they pass. Remember, riding with music doesn’t mean you get to ignore the outside world. Full confession: As a driver I, too, get annoyed when bikers are stretched out across the lane. Thus, I mind my place whilst upon my cycle. I have heard people say, “Hey man, bikers have as much a right as the cars.” Legally that is true, but does your point matter if you’re sitting in traction at St. Mary’s? Leave the martyrdom to the saints. Finally, you can always grab a license plate number and report them to the police.           

*Conducted by me.

With winter snow and ice, how long should people stay off the trails? 

      —  Mike, Denver CO

While we are certainly lucky to have little bad weather in the valley, when we do it is best to give the trails a break — regardless of the time of year. In the winter the sun is lower and many spots don’t get direct sunlight, so it can take extra time for them to dry out. On the spots that may stay covered longer, pass with care and try not to damage the surrounding area. There is no need to bomb the trail and leave a huge tire rut or deep footprint. In the end, I think it best to approach wet trails the same way my wife unloads pallets from the truck.She takes a break and rests a bit between each pallet. This way she is stronger in the long run. Don’t fret, there will be plenty of days to get out on the trails. In the meantime, don’t forget about the bike path. 

I was on Serpents trail and I noticed the Precambrian-to Cambrian formation of black rock dates back 2 to 3 billion years. The red rocks of the Chinle Formation immediately on top of that are roughly 250 million years old. That is a lot of time with no rocks deposited between the two formations. This is a tremendous unconformity. 

Can you explain why?

      —  Russell, Grand Junction CO

Umm… Rocks hard. Me climb.

What is the deal with dog owners who leave their dog’s waste on the trail? Should I pick it up?

      —  Jen, Fruita CO

Oh, Jen, with this question I have reached the pinnacle of my career. This really puts my English degree from Harvard into perspective. I too have seen bags of dog waste on the side of the trail. I can best describe this with words my wife often tells me, “It was a really good start, dear.” Yes, bagging the waste is a good start, especially when compared to owners who let their dogs go free and leave it. That said, finish the job. If you want to bring the dog to the trail, then it is your responsibility to clean it up. Good job putting it in the bag, but carry it to the trash can and finish the job. As for spotting a bag on the side of the trail, should you pick it up? Well, I can’t make that call for you. While it is tremendously nice and certainly benefits the whole community, that will have to be a personal decision. 

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