What is Wrong with (MTB) People?

I see that up ahead two people are off to the side of the trail. They are looking at one of the bikes. As I get closer, I see that it is two women, one with a thin trickle of fresh blood running down her shin from her knee. As I approach, two guys ride right past them, not slowing down, not saying hello, not asking if everything is okay.

I squeeze the brakes.

“Are you okay?”

They tell me that they can’t figure out why the bike won’t move even though the pedals turn just fine. A quick lookover, and I see that the left side front brake pad–good ol’ cantilever brakes–is wedged under the rim. They explain that the one woman hit her head on a low-hanging tree limb and crashed.

Another rider rolls up, tapping his fingers on a screen, then gives a quick assessment of the scene and asks if the anyone has a multi-tool. I am in the process of getting one out of my bag. He then scolds the women for not having a tool/other needs, but then admits that on this very ride that he is on, he does not have a multi-tool. What a tool himself? How is it that you find it in your head that it is okay to say shit like that?

A quick adjustment, pop the wheel, and the brake pad is free. Adjust again, and everything is turning as it should. I suggest that they take it easy, especially since she had just hit her head. Good thing she had a helmet on.

I pedal away, thoughts of “what is wrong with people these days” running through my head. Is the behavior of the two passing riders indicative of a larger social illness? Heads down, gotta keep going. What about the scolder dude? Seriously, did he not know how stupid he sounded?

Or, is this just a mountain biking thing? I cannot imagine riding and seeing people off to the side of the trail in obvious need of at least being acknowledged, and then not slowing down or stopping. Is the camaraderie of on-the-trail culture dying? When we’re out there, aren’t we all in it together, doing what we need to do so that our fellow riders make it back home?

I wish I could say that this was an isolated event, but nope. I’ve seen it before, unfortunately. It bums me out, and/but/yet … the only thing I can do is keep doing what I do–sharing the trail experience with all users–mountain bikers, hikers, runners, equestrians, whoever is out there.

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