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IMBA's Low Impact Bike Trail Riding

With the number of cyclists steadily growing, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has put together some tips to make sure mountain biking has a future on our nation’s trails. This is required reading for anyone who rides a mountain bike. Please follow these IMBA soft riding tips to help keep trails open for mountain biking.


Respect: It’s all about respect. Treat the trail like the valuable treasure that it is. Same goes for other trail users — respect them and they’ll return the favor.

Ride Softly: Dirt holds a special place in the heart of mountain bikers, so be kind to it. Don’t skid. Instead adjust your braking to the soil and terrain, and float smoothly along the trail.

Keep Trails Narrow: There is a reason they call it singletrack. Make it a game to stay directly in the center of the trail at all times. Take corners carefully to avoid blowing off line. Stay off trailside plants. Ride over rocks, logs and waterbars instead of around them. Despite the popularity of recent videos showcasing extreme off-trail riding, most of us ride only on established routes and want to make sure they are around and remain narrow for years to come.

Say No To Mud: Riding when the trail is muddy can cause tremendous damage. Find trails in your town that are durable and drain well and ride these when it’s wet. Also volunteer to help your local club build tougher trails that withstand rain.

Enjoy The Silence: Adjust your brakes so they don’t squeal. Do something about that rattling seat pack full of wrenches and chain links. Deaden chain slap with a chain stay protector. Don’t hoot and holler. Exception: Get a bell and use it, but not right in a hiker’s ear. Ring it once at 50 feet and then don’t touch it. Instead say hello when you get closer. Also, don’t use bells if horses are around, unless you’re certain they’ll react well.

Etiquette Extends To The Trailhead: Keep that thumping car stereo turned down, and resist the urge to imitate Bo and Luke Duke, slinging gravel as you peel out of the parking lot after your ride.

Quick Tips: Don’t ride in large groups. Don’t get lost. Pick up trash. Ride busy trails during off-peak hours. Don’t ride fast on popular hiking trails. Don’t do unauthorized trail work.


More info on what you can do to help IMBA keep trails open to cyclists can be found at


Mountain Biking