Rules and ethics of Mountain Biking (cycle-hiking in Italian language)

Behavior of the “cycle-hiker”

To describe a trip with MTB, it is necessary to explain what “cycle-hiking” means, the rules to be respected and the good practices to be adopted.
For the rules, the self-regulation codes for MTB are valid; the comments are from CAI MTB-guide of Parma and Reggio E.

The SD-MTB and SD-GRAVEL routes go mainly on trails and dirty roads. They have all been previously tracked and geolocalized with the use of a manual gps system, which makes the gpx tracks and the road books highly reliable. The SD-MTB and SD-GRAVEL routes mainly follow marked roads and paths but they are not tabulated and marked on specific way for cycling.
The paths are kept clean by CAI volunteers, but they can always present sudden changes and security and visibility issues due to small landslides, growth of vegetation, trees and fallen branches. If you decide to start this amazing journey, please be equipped with cutting tools and prepare to improvise alternative routes if necessary.
Our team of volunteers are doing their best to keep the walking and cycling paths clean and accessible, but that is unfortunately not enough. Thats why your help will be fully appreciated.
We strongly advise to keep the path as clean and accessible as possible, everyone’s little help will make a huge difference: picking up a paper, cutting a branch, lifting a fallen table, or even just reporting the problem to us:

Cycle-hiker” CAI self-regulation code

The CAI considers the MTB cycle a suitable “tool” for cycle-hiking. CAI expects the cycle-hikers that overtake this trail to follow commonly accepted safety practices and respectful behaviours:
“Do not harm yourself, others and the environment”.

Environmental rules
  • The routes should be traced on adequate paths and should be cycled only on adequate environmental conditions to prevent the MTB from damaging the natural heritage. Please avoid going off the track.
  • Applied cycling techniques must be “eco-friendly”, therefore please avoid harmful techniques such as skidding (wheel locking).
    CAI philosophy does not agree with the use of lift to carry bicycles uphill, downhill-only cycling is not contemplated in CAI activities.
Technical rules
  • The mtb must be in good condition and efficient..
  • Clothing, repairing tools and equipment must be suitable for the route to be tackled.
  • The helmet must always be worn and fastened.
Safety rules
  • cycling speed should be adjusted based on the biker’s technical skills, route visibility and environmental conditions.
  • Give priority to hikers, who must be notified of our arrival, either by voice or with an acoustic device.
  • The choice of routes must consider the physical, technical and athletic abilities of the cyclists.

The nine articles of the CAI Self-Regulatory Code summarize CAI ethical and environmental principles by following international rcodes, likewise the Italian Road Code and the Courmayeur Tables. article II states “we must not adapt the environment to the needs of athletes, instead the athletes need to constantly adapt to the environmental conditions”.
Where it says: “avoid leaving the track”, it implies that MTB must cycle only on existing paths and tracks, limiting the damage and erosion of the terrain, in order to reduce their impact on flora and fauna. This concept is further extrapolated: “choose to undertake a trial only under environmental conditions that minimize the damage to the natural heritage”. This involves cycling, or hiking, in areas, or in specific timeframes of particular fragility for fauna and flora.
The impact of the MTBs should be limited to roads and paths, which are already the work of man.However, it is necessary that the passage of bikes does not alter these paths. The rolling of the bicycle wheel tends to compact the ground, while a wheel that crawls can create a groove. On hard or rocky surfaces the effect is practically irrelevant, but the rolling impact can highly damage the paths on soft ground and wet environmental conditions. the above, must be taken into account at any time while cycling. The “cycle-excursion” driving style is “eco-friendly”, as it is based on the principle of low-impact action.
Compatibility with other users is resolved by applying the Italian Road Code. The concept of “speed commensurate” to specific situations, is described in Article 141 of the CdS. The obligation to give priority to pedestrians derives from art. 182 of the CdS. The respect that we owe, beyond the universal principles of good education and civil coexistence, is not limited to other hikers. We need to think about those who live off the resources of the territory: farmers, shepherds, breeders. We respect private properties and remember to be guests in someone else’s house.
CAI self-regulation does not replace the NORBA and IMBA Codes, them with more specific rules to apply on italian routes.

N.O.R.B.A. self-regulation code

United States of America, the place where the mountain biking phenomenon originated, is the country that first raised the problem of the behavior to be kept when driving a mountain bicycle, the effects of its use on the environment, with the authorities and public opinion.
The N.O.R.B.A. (National Off Road Bicycle Association, now merged into the US cycling federation), which drew up a real code of conduct, later adopted also in Italy.

1. Always give priority to non-motorized hikers (both downhill as up)
2. Decrease your speed and use caution when you meet other tourists (manhole)
3. Always check your speed in order not to endanger others and themselves
4. Never leave the marked trails
5. Do not harass and frighten wild or domestic animals
6. Do not leave or bury the waste
7. Respect the public and private property
8. Always try to be self-sufficient and appropriate to your level
9. Avoid traveling alone especially in remote areas
10. To minimize the impact on the environment that surrounds us
11. Helmet always worn



I.M.B.A. Rules of the Trail

I.M.B.A. (International Mountain Bicycling Association) has developed “the Rules of the Trail” to promote the responsible and polite use of the paths shared with other hikers.
Keep in mind that the precedence and overrun agreements may vary, depending on the traffic and the predominant use of the path.

1. Only travel on accessible trails
Respect the closure of roads and paths, if you have doubts about the state of the path ask the manager for information. Do not access private properties. Obtain permissions or other permissions where required.
2. Leave no traces
Be sensitive to the ground below you. Paths in wet or muddy areas are more vulnerable than dry paths. When the path is loose consider alternative destinations. This also implies staying on the marked paths and not creating new ones. Don’t cut the hairpin bends. Take your waste home.
3. Stay in control of your vehicle
Even a single moment of inattention can expose you and others to risk. Respect speed limits and recommendations and do not exceed your abilities.
4. Give way
Do what you can to make yourself visible to other users of the route – a friendly greeting or a bell are good methods. Be careful when approaching blind curves. Cyclists must give priority to all other users of the trails unless it is a cycle reserved trail. Downhill cyclists must give way to those who go up, unless it is a clearly signposted route for downhill only. Make every effort to make overtaking safe and courteous.
5.Don’t frighten animals
Animals are easily frightened by an unannounced approach, sudden movement or loud noise. Give the animals the right space and time to adapt to your presence. In case of overtaking horses, pay particular attention and follow the rider’s instructions (ask in case of uncertainty). Running away livestock and disturbing wildlife are serious crimes.
6. Plan ahead
Be aware of the state of your equipment, your skills and the place where the excursion will take place and prepare accordingly. Plan to be self-sufficient: keep your gear sheltered and bring what you need to change in case of changing weather or other occasions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety accessories (e.g. gloves, goggles, etc.).


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