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Biking in the Chilterns

Pads2Pads2 Posts: 3
edited October 2007 in MTB beginners
Every weekend here in the beautiful Chiltern Hills, we welcome many visitors, and these can be easily put into four classifications - we have motorists, horse riders, pedestrians, and ofcourse cyclists. All can be found on our highways, on our byways, and indeed occasionally well away from either of these.

Over recent years, I have become increasingly concerned that there is an "issue" amongst the cyclists, and last week I bought a copy of Mountain Biking UK in an attempt to engage with biking culture. I admit it came as something of a relief to have my prejudices confirmed by the content of the magazine.

I was advised by the editorial & the readership that (amongst other things):
1. Porsche drivers are twerps.
2. A farmer was stupid for leaving a gate locked (in a location where the biker had no business to be).
3. We should speculate on the reaction of ramblers to the ringing of a bike bell (the implication being that this would be the same as the cyclist's response to the horn of an approaching car - my experience being that it is not unusual for this to be of the two fingered variety).

My experience is that there are not only rules, but common courtesies which are generally observed by motorists, horse riders & pedestrians but which are generally NOT observed by bikers - for example (& only one example) a simple hand waving acknowledgement and/or "thank you" when encountering other users of the road or bridlepath.

On the contrary, biking culture appears to include an unreasonableness verging on arrogance when dealing with others looking for an equal enjoyment of our countryside. I find this surprising and hard to swallow, and I am wondering what its foundation might be?

I imagine there will be some scoffing amongst you as you read this and I accept that I am generalising, but the occasional (very unscientific) canvassing of bikers often elicits the response "I don't behave like that", which to me includes the tacit admission that it is known that others DO, and it is inevitable ofcourse that everyone is going to get tarred with the same brush.

So even if this rant results in a tiny, subconscious, acknowledgement that there could be conceivably, possibly maybe, an issue, then it will have had a benefit.

Smile while you cycle!


  • I ride in the Chiterns every weekend.

    I say 'hello' whenever I can to people. I always say 'excuse me' when I need to get past (I don't have a bell). And I always say 'thank you' when people move for me. My girlfriend who rides with me always does the same.

    I'm sorry you feel aggreived, but remember people are individuals and not groups. Your points are aimed at a group of people you haven't met individually, and so therefore are fundamentally prejudiced. All sorts of people ride mountain bikes, just as all sorts of people drive cars, ride horses etc etc. If someone is rude or discurteous to you, blame the person not the bike... or better still, just forget about it and smile, safe in the knowledge that YOU are a nice person.

    Have a nice day!
  • Pads2Pads2 Posts: 3
    Thanks Fuzzyboy for your "I don't do that" response, let's hope there are other bikers out there who can learn from your example!
  • Pads2 wrote:
    Thanks Fuzzyboy for your "I don't do that" response, let's hope there are other bikers out there who can learn from your example!

    Personally I find most people I meet out in the county side courteous regardless of their manner of transport be it car, horse, foot or bike. Of course there are people who can behave in a manner that is selfish or rude but that doesn't mean that everyone does.

    For example would your manner change if you went for a ride on a bike as opposed to say by foot?
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  • I used to do a lot of greenlaning in my 36-year old LandRover. Now I do very little, getting into MTBing instead. I also have two dogs which aren't big outdoor types but do occasionally get dragged into the countryside with me.

    So I've spent a lot of time on public rights of way over the last 5 years or more and have learnt a few things:

    1) The countryside is big enough for all users whether they be horse-riders, MTBs, walkers, 4x4s or motorbikers

    2) #1 doesn't mean that certain selfish individuals don't want the whole countryside reserved purely for their own hobby

    3) A tiny majority disregard all rules, regulations, common sense and manners. They'll ride their MTB on a footpath, drive their 4x4 when it's too wet etc. etc. Unfortunately, just one such person can cause misery to so many more

    4) Everyone affects the countryside when they use it for recreation purposes - and as we use it more and more, for more and more diverse activities, it's going to get affected more and more. And funding for maintenance isn't there so it's either going to stay "affected" or more volunteer groups will be needed.

    5) It's human nature to tar people with the same brush - especially when they exist in a social group outside of our own.

    I also say hello to people when out and about and would like to think that whether on my bike, in my landrover or out with the dogs, that I'm considerate to all users, respectful of the countryside and obey all legislation.

    Whether people think the same of me or not, I couldn't comment :)

    Dunno if that helps or not?

  • fabienno1fabienno1 Posts: 406
    To be honest, most of the cyclists on here at least come across as courteous in their posts. However, I'm not saying that necessarily means they act likewise on their bikes. But, the inhabitants on this site are beings who are striving to be more knowledgeable, about their shared interest suggesting a higher intelligence in the first place. This usually involves nicer more sociable personalities as well.

    Having said that I do. I'll be honest have a prejudice for ramblers when I see them because it annoys me that they spread out. Nevertheless they always, without fail, move out of the way and smile or apologise but the initial "Argh no not again" is a tedious reoccurrence on some of my trails anyway.

    As for, "smile while you cycle" we are always smiling on the inside when on our bikes whether or not it's reflected in our panting, stressed faces is another matter. :wink:

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  • Ciaran500Ciaran500 Posts: 348
    I live in Ireland so can't respond to the Chiltern area but when ever I'm out its always the same. Most people I come across are happy, respond to a hello and move out of the way to let people by. But theres always some from all groups who are miserable cunts. Giving you evil looks, hurling abuse, barging past or just refusing to be courteous.

    I wouldn't take MBUK as a serious representation of biking culture btw, its written with a very tongue in cheek tone.
  • Ah the Chiltern area's road users are a truly wonderful and caring bunch. Some of the roads out of High Wycombe heading into the hills seem to be home to every lewis hamilton wannabe in a 1982 ford fiesta.

    Not had that much problem with ramblers and horsey people. I've always found a quick "It's a bit muddy down there hope you brought your wellies" works wonders along with a smile and a thank you.
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