Some trails for mountain-biking are directional. This designation typically applies where the single track -- picture a narrow dirt ribbon unspooling across the landscape -- has numerous twists and turns, ups and downs, creating blind spots that could prove problematic if riders were going both ways simultaneously. A directional trail is intended to be a one-way street.
Some trails are multi-use, meaning cyclists might share them with hikers, horse riders, and in some cases motorbikes.
Today, my wife and I pedaled on a multi-use trail that wasn't directional, and therein lies the slice.
On our mountain bikes, we had already negotiated a bumpy stretch of trail that appeared to be under construction for future use by all-terrain vehicles. That led us to several segments of sandy double-track; picture a jeep road, except with a surface more like your favorite beach. (For the record, this is not ideal for riding bicycles, but the wind puts the sand where the wind wants.) These efforts brought us to our actual objective: a dramatic trail meandering along a desert rim, looking down on a placid river at the canyon's bottom and across to snow-dusted peaks in the distance. This bit, we enjoyed thoroughly. We zipped along, taking in the majestic views.
The clattering and huffing of our own machinery were soon superseded by the drone of approaching motor bikes. In big, echoing landscapes, it can take a moment to pinpoint a sound's location. Is it behind us? In front of us? In a moment, we picked out the riders ahead, coming our way from afar. We kept pedaling since it would take time for our paths to converge. Less time than we expected, it turns out, because motor bikes, well, they motor.
Approaching a curve around which a boulder made seeing impossible, my wife at the front of our two-pack, stepped off her bike and scooted to the trail's edge. I did as she did. The whining motors were close. In fact, they were right there, as the first rider darted around the boulder and stopped suddenly. Surprised to see two bike riders, he nearly fell over. He righted himself and started waving his hand up and down behind him, the universal signal for "Slow down." I wondered whether an accordion crash from the Keystone Kops playbook might be imminent, but the rival bike gang of five reassembled in uneventful fashion. They motored away from whence we came while we continued our (slower) forward progress in the opposite direction.