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Leave No One Behind

A couple of recent rides have reminded me of an important mountain biking rule: Leave No One Behind. Neither of these rides resulted in a problem, but it is wise to take a moment to reflect on the importance of this rule. This doesn't mean everyone has to cluster around the slowest rider, but the safety of the group is important to all members.

On the first ride, a good but relatively new rider followed some "advice" from one of the wags in the group a little too literally.  When it was jokingly suggested that someone should "go see what's behind that rock" he did.  Of course, he didn't mention to anyone he was checking out the rock and he performed a detailed and thorough check of the rock and everything around it. The group, not realizing what was awaiting the new guy (remember the start of the Star Trek episodes where they would always send the extra to see what was behind that rock, where he met a horrible fate?), continued down the trail thinking he was still with the group.  About half way down the mountain we discovered he was missing. A cell call confirmed that he was OK and retracing his steps to the starting point (since he didn't really know where he was), but it could just as easily been a Star Trek moment.

On another ride, a group member suffered from a case of sudden-onset vertigo just as we arrived at the trailhead. This was not a case of "I just had four too many Hurricanes in New Orleans" vertigo but the real inner ear issue.  We waited a while to see if it would clear, but when it didn't we re-packed all of the gear and headed home. It was better the hold the group together than to get separated and then have an accident on the trail.

A final long ago story involved a group of friends that included several new riders. We rode to a nearby park that is mostly fire roads with good lines of site.  The downside is that there are several hills which make it tough for beginners. We re-grouped at major junctions and were doing pretty well. One guy, riding at the back, decided he had had enough and turned around and went home without telling anyone.  At the next re-group, we waited...and waited...and waited. We rode back to pick him up and he wasn't there! The group organized and sent different riders on every trail he could have hit since the previous re-group, looking in all the ravines, gullies and trees. We couldn't find him and it was getting dark. After he got home and took a shower, we were finally able to reach him by phone at his house. The group was not pleased.

While nothing bad happened in any of these situations, the point is that something could have easily happened. Keep this in mind when leading a group or riding sweep in the group.

Lecture over...back to having fun.

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