Ambassadors of Mountain Biking

I like writing. But I really love mountain biking.

So my two favorite things to do are words that sound the same. Writing. Riding. If there’s no context, in the spoken word, you might get those two mixed up.

My most recent ride took me up Rock-A-Billy and down Ridge Line. These are just trail names, so they’re meaningless to you unless I show you a picture…


…or two.


While I ride, I’m always meditating on something. I was considering the sport of mountain biking. It has exploded in popularity lately. I’m not sure why it has exploded, but I considered a comparison. Is this what it was like in the 1960s when surfing was hugely popular? I’ve heard it said that the beaches in California were so crowded with surfers that you couldn’t spit in any direction without hitting one of them. The ocean itself was so crowded, people actually got in fights in the water over “stolen” waves. Trying to figure that out in my mind, I honestly can’t imagine how you would make lines in the ocean so everyone would get a fair turn.

In mountain biking it’s easy: people going up the hill have the right of way, ’cause it’s a tough job going up. People going down pull over and let the riders going up have the trail. Once the mountain goat herd has passed, the trail is yours again. On the way down, if you meet someone slower than you, it’s a simple trick to say, “Passing on your left,” or “Passing on your right.” This way the rider ahead of you knows to stay where they are and where you’ll be when you pass. Actually, I never say, “Passing”; I only say, “On your left,” or “right,” whichever side I’m on.

I guess, “Passing on your left,” is the formal way to say it. Kind of like adding “sir” or “ma’am” after “yes”.


“Yes sir.” I learned something about myself: I’m an informal rider.

I think next time I go, I’ll try a new phrase. Something like: “Hello sir (or ma’am), I’ll be passing on your extreme left (or right), if you don’t mind.” And then after I’m ahead, I’ll turn and say, “Have yourself a wonderful day, my new friend!” That’ll get their attention.

One other unspoken rule is to leave no trash up there on the mountain. We respect the trail and leave it clean. Just like surfers are the best advocates for a clean ocean, mountain bikers are ambassadors of their sport. Mountain bikers keep the mountain clean. I’ve seen dudes having an ice cold beer on the tailgate of their truck after a long ride. They could have thrown beer bottles against the rocks. They could have broken the bottles and left glass everywhere, but the mountain isn’t a bowling alley parking lot, or a concert venue, or a wedding reception center. They packed the bottles out with them. Good form, gentlemen! Good form.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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