Some jerks play by their own rules on Aspen-area trails |

Some jerks play by their own rules on Aspen-area trails

Blue columbines and red paintbrush carpet the ground around lower Fryingpan Lake.
Hannah Condon/courtesy photo |

I went on a great mountain bike ride Saturday and a spectacular hike Sunday, so it got me thinking about some trails conflict issues I’ve been reading about.

I can sympathize with a letter writer from Snowmass Village who recounted Monday nearly getting killed by mountain bikers on the Tom Blake Trail recently.

Despite my personal desire to mountain bike as often as possible on as many different trails as possible, I’d be the first to admit the sport attracts some real jerks.

My friend Bob and I climbed Tom Blake on Saturday, heading east to west, then messed around on Government Trail West and Village Bound before reversing course. In the early morning, when we climbed, we encountered only a couple of hikers on Tom Blake, exchanged pleasantries and went along our merry way. We ride early for just that scenario — uncrowded by design.

Around noon, as we were descending, the trail was considerably more congested with hikers and bikers. I consider Bob and myself, and nearly every other cycling friend I can think of, as extremely courteous. We yield to hikers and uphill-traveling bikers unless they take the initiative to wave us through (and we always get off the trail to yield to equestrians.)

Not all downhill cyclists followed the trail golden rules Saturday. We had a group of three hikers implore us with their hand motions to stop as we approached. They expressed relief when we did and said they had “almost been killed” by several sets of bikers.

We encountered several cyclists making the climb in the heat and we always let them play through. I couldn’t help but notice that a cyclist behind us, earbuds firmly implanted, was oblivious to anything but his own little world. He blasted by the uphill cyclists, forcing them to step aside. I assume he did the same to the hikers.

Lo Semple wrote a recent column in the Aspen Daily News that the new mentality on right of way for some bikers is one way — my way. For a selfish few, that is indeed the rule. And they’re soiling the reputations of us all.

Conflicting uses was no issue Sunday. My daughter and I made our annual pilgrimage up to Fryingpan Lakes. The timing was perfect. We were hiking prior to 8 a.m. and saw no one all the way to the twin gems. What we did see is what we yearned for — meadows choked with the blue columbine, Colorado’s state flower.

I live to ride, but I also appreciate the simplicity of travel in wilderness.

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