Things you may see on a trail

Here are some of the people and things I have observed while on over 200 rides on the Salem Lake Trail; but you may find most of them on any trail.

SNAKES. Rarely copperheads, usually black snakes. Usually slithering across the trail. You try to avoid running over them, but sometimes you cannot.

SQUIRRELS. Usually young ones, the older ones must be smarter. They are tricky; they will stop in front of you so you don't know which way to go to avoid them. If you chose a side, you have a 50% chance of choosing the side that they chose to go, which means you have a 50% chance of hitting them. However, if you head directly for them, they usually will run to a side so you will not hit them. I had one run directly ahead of me for about 20 yards before he turned for the trees.

DEER. I have seen a few around the lake, but they stayed in the woods.

DOGS. You will see many dogs on the trail, especially on the weekends when the trail is crowded. Most are on a leash and most are bike friendly. The few I’ve seen off leash ignored bikes and walked behind the owners. One of my bad spills was as I came around the curve leading down to the concrete ford on the Salem Creek Greenway. I saw no bikes or pedestrians ahead so I started into the turn at about 14 mph. Then I noticed a small dog sitting in the center of the ford. In that split second of distraction, I went too wide, slipped on the concrete lip of the trail, and fell onto the concrete. I got a bloody knee and a sore shoulder; the dog was fine. The dog’s owner, who was sitting on the bank, apologized. I had seen him with the dog off leash a few times before and the dog always walked directly behind him. I never saw them on the trail again.

FALLEN LIMBS OR TREES. This is common occurrence. The storms coming through during the summer of 2015 left a tree down about every week. If a tree fall occurs on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, they will put up warning tape to alert you, but it will not be removed until Monday. Riders usually pull limbs to side until they are removed. One was so big that the only way to get past it was to lift your bike up over waist high, lean over the trunk, to drop the bike onto the trail.

  • Park employees in an ATV.
  • City employees on mowers.
  • City or private employees in trucks doing repairs, cutting trees, or removing fallen trees.
  • Road scrapers grooming the trail.
  • Idiots riding on mopeds or motorcycles.

TRASH. I rarely see trash on the trail. I don’t think it is because trail users are so considerate. Someone must be picking up the trash. It may be park employees. I’ve heard that the mountain bikers who built the mountain bike single track trail on the north side of the lake are the ones who keep the trail clear of trash.


There are two types: those who obey the rules of the trail and stay on their side of the trail, and those who do not. Pedestrians have the right of way over bikers, so you have to watch for them ahead of you and be ready to avoid them or slow or stop. Any accident involving a pedestrian usually means you will be the one injured since you are usually willing to crash or run off road to avoid injuring them.

Rule obeying users. These are people who generally obey the rules of the trail but occasionally do dumb things. Some examples of rule obeying pedestrians are as follows:
  • Considerate. These pedestrians are alert to their surroundings, usually hear you coming, usually hear your calls, and usually give a hand signal for you to pass. This includes most runners, at least those not wearing earbuds.
  • Parents. Some walk or run with their children. Some keep a close watch on their children; some do not. Never trust children to so the right thing. Some walk or run pushing buggies. They are usually careful, but some are not. I was about to enter the hairpin curve on the south side of the lake when two women pushing buggies and walking side by side across both lanes came around the bend. I braked hard and had to run off the outer edge of the trail. That could have been a disaster. I got the usual excuse “Oh, I’m sorry.” Some ride with their children. Sometimes the children ride way ahead of the parents and do things like riding on the wrong side. Some parents tow a buggy, sometimes with two children in them, or a dog. Some ride tandem bikes with the child pedaling in the rear. The scariest parents are the ones with infants in front or rear bike baby carriers.
  • Walkers. Always be prepared for walkers to do something stupid as you approach or attempt to pass them. If you call “on your left,” they sometimes step to their left. If you ring your bike bell, they look up and around for a flying bell; it never occurs to them that the sound is coming from a bike behind them. They may see a snake and suddenly rush in front of you to get away from it, or they may see a turtle across the trail and rush over to it.
  • Oblivious. These people usually have earbuds in both ears, usually with the volume so loud you can hear the music as you pass them, so they are startled as you pass. I’ve had some scream as they suddenly noticed me passing. Some are talking on a phone or using a Bluetooth device. Some are texting. All are oblivious to the world around them.
  • U-turners. These people will be walking or running ahead of you and will suddenly stop and reverse direction without ever considering what may be behind them. I was preparing to pass a woman jogging with earbuds when she suddenly U-turned into the other lane without ever looking behind her. The incident was uneventful but had she turned a few seconds later, I would have hit her head on.
  • Occasional bikers. These are nice people who know the rules of the trail, but since they only ride a couple of times a year they forget about the rules and do careless things. They usually are shaky and pedal slowly. Be careful around them because you never know what they will do.
  • Equestrians. Salem Creek Trail allows horses and they have the right of way over bikers and pedestrians. Horse crap left on the trail also has the right-of-way. When meeting horses, it's best to stop and let them pass you. When overtaking horses, give the riders an early warning and let them decide what to do.

Rule ignoring users. These are people who don’t think the rules of the trail pertain to them and have on consideration of others. They walk, run, or ride wherever or however they want without regard to their safety or the safety of others, so you have to watch for them all the time. Since they are idiots, you never know what they will do, but you can pretty much count on them doing the wrong thing. Some examples of rule ignoring pedestrians are as follows:

  • Wrong siders. These are people who walk, run, or bike on the wrong side of the trail. Regrettably, one place you meet them is while going around in a blind curve. These people are extremely dangerous, especially if they are on a bike; serious injury could occur in a collision. Since they are idiots, so you don’t know what they will do when you meet them. They may freeze, jump back into their lane, or they may move deeper into your lane. The best thing to do is to stay in your lane, brake hard, and wait to see what they will do before making any evasive move.
  • Idiot walkers. Idiot walkers like to travel in packs, two, three, or more abreast, blocking the entire trail. When they finally become aware of you, some may go left, some right, one may pull another one to the side, or they may all just stand there like idiots. Idiot walkers seem to prefer earbud music, talking on phones, and texting. I met a man walking the wrong way in a curve who was texting. I came to a complete stop and he almost walked into my stopped front wheel before noticing me.
  • Idiot runners. Idiot runners may suddenly stop, start cutting corners and going the wrong way when they get tired, or suddenly change directions. Since they are running, direction changes happen quickly, so make sure you give them a wide berth when passing.
  • Idiot bikers. The ones who ride two or three abreast and don’t shift to single file when meeting or being passed by a bike. Also included are bikers who yell “on your left!” or “bike on left,” not as a warning, but as a command for you to get out of the way or else because they are coming through and are not about to slow down. This also includes bikers who do not have or use a mirror. If they did use one, they would see overtaking bikes and give them room to pass, and they would see there was a bike behind them and wait before doing the one nostril nose blow or water spit over their shoulder.
  • Idiot equestrians. Riders who ride abreast, take up the entire trail width, and think they own the trail.

No comments:

Post a Comment