Photo of Alex Legum by Alex Legum
By Alex Legum
Been wanting to try trail riding but not sure what the skinny is (or where the skinnies are)? Here are a few trail etiquette rules and resources to get you riding. Trail riding can be an intimidating thing to get into, and there are many lovely organizations here to help you get you set up on a bike, train you with some skills, and connect you with like-minded riders.
Toronto is blessed with over 200 kilometres of natural surface trails within riding distance of the downtown core. We have an enthusiastic community of riders advocating for and helping to maintain our trails, and the City of Toronto maintains any mapped portions in an official capacity.
There are three basic rules of trail respect:
Leave no trace: Keep your Clif bar wrappers in your jersey and take your used tubes out with you.
Never ride when it’s muddy: Want to avoid eroded trails, snapped chains and mucked up suspension? In summer, it takes about a day of sun to dry things out. Check daily trail conditions in the Daily Trail Conditions Thread on www.ridingfeelsgood.com.
Respect right of way and other trail users: For the most part, the trails are bi-directional and multi-use. Keep in mind when you’re bombing that hill that someone could be walking towards you with an off leash dog. We’re all out there to have fun, so no need for fist shaking – just be polite! Yield to uphill riders. You may love the flow going downhill, but it’s painful hopping off your bike mid-climb to yield to downhill riders.
There are many accessible group rides in the Don. For the experienced shredders, there are regular Tuesday and Thursday night rides leaving from the Loblaws trailhead. Wild Bettys - Toronto’s only all-women mountain bike club – runs a weekly Tuesday night ride with a variety of skill levels. Sweet Pete’s runs weekly Friday morning moderately-paced Friday morning rides and a women’s only mountain bike ride on Wednesday evenings. Riding Feels Good is a website dedicated to the GTHA off-road community, including a very active forum.
To learn more about the City of Toronto’s Natural Environment Trail Strategy, you can find a handy summary on the Riding Feels Good website. For more information on any of this, additional resources, or to find out more about trail stewardship opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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