You may say you fear the wild animals of the woods. I have been a woodland hiker for many years and the animals I truly fear are those who sit astride their mountain bikes and careen down the trails at breakneck speeds.
Each year I find there are more and more of these weekend warriors tearing up the trails. I am certainly not saying every one, but I have found that probably 50 per cent of the riders who I encounter have an attitude of entitlement when it comes to the trails.
Recently, I was hiking with my dog when we came upon a cyclist standing by his bike and talking on his phone, close to where Spur 7 joins up with the Mud Lake trail near Squirrel Crossing. As he was about to ride on, he said it was a good thing he had to stop as that particular stretch of trail was where he and other riders would be riding really fast. In other words, he was telling me we were at risk of being hit by a speeding bike rider while hiking this trail, a trail that will see hundreds of hikers every year, a trail with families walking, with dogs and with small children.
A few days later, we were at Spaghetti Bowl junction. I could hear a loud rumbling sound from behind and turned to see a man bearing down on us at a speed I have never been exposed to by a mountain bike.
I was in the middle of the trail and called for him to slow down; I felt we were in real danger. Luckily my little dog was near and I managed to get down on one knee and grab hold of him.
The cyclist ignored me and yelled that there were three more coming as he sped past, an arm’s length from where I knelt. And sure enough, they came. I didn’t have time to get off the trail.
Again I called out for them to please slow down and was again ignored. These were not some young kids showing off; I estimate their ages to be between 40 and 60. In fact, I have found younger riders to be the most courteous and caring of the bunch.
These are just two examples of many encounters I have had out there. I am a 75 years old with two old dogs and not one of us would fare well if in a collision with a speeding bike. And no, I won’t give up hiking these trails.
These trails are hiker and biker friendly, we are told, and this message needs to be delivered to the bike riders out there. If there is a real need to race, go develop trails for this purpose and don’t put us trail walkers in danger with your irresponsible behaviour.
Jerry Eskes is a Powell River resident.