Rist signOn any given day you will see dozens if not hundreds of cyclists riding Rist Canyon. This is all well and good unless you live in the canyon. The constant stream of riders on the narrow mountain roads is aggravating to many residents. A lack of understanding of the law or poor riding habits can drive people that already hate us over the edge and it can change the minds of people that don’t really mind us.


I get it, some people hate cyclists and there’s nothing any of us can do to change that. They’re always going to hate us riding on ‘their roads’. Generally speaking though, most people that live in the canyon don’t mind us. The goal of this article is to keep as many of those people on our side as possible.


Keep in mind many of these tips require you to grin and bear it. Unfortunately, to keep confrontations to a minimum and to maintain our image, we just have to smile and wave.


Speaking of waving…wave to oncoming cars, wave to cars that have passed safely, wave to property owners getting their mail, wave to property owners mowing their lawns, wave to law enforcement, wave to the mail lady. Wave. If they’re looking at you thinking you’re just another jerk in their canyon and you smile and wave it may just remind them that you’re human.


Don’t leave any trash in the canyon. Even if nobody sees you drop that energy bar wrapper, they know where it came from. Also, remember, banana peels attract bears to the roadside and to homes. Just because it’s biodegradable, doesn’t mean it belongs there. Pack it all out.


When you pull over for a break, move completely out of the roadway. Like, completely out of the roadway, so far off that drivers don’t need to move over to get around you.


If nature calls please be discrete. Don’t pee near mailboxes, in view of homes or approaching cars.


Single up and/or move as far to the right as safe whenever a vehicle approaches from behind. On these roads, you’ll probably hear them before you see them so keep an ear out. If I do get caught in a blind curve hold the lane until it is clear it. If you’ve got gas in the tank, get out of the saddle to give the driver the cue that you’re not dawdling.


If you’re riding in a bigger group, be sure to exercise extra caution. The “never more than two abreast” rule is especially important in the canyon. To a driver approaching from behind, riders who are three abreast look disorganized and unaware.


This is a tough one for me. Be the bigger man or woman and keep all your fingers on the bar. If a car harrasses you, get a description (of driver and car) and the license plate number and report them to the Larimer County Sheriff. Flipping them off and yelling only aggravates the situation.


If a confrontation is imminent, stay calm and start rolling video. Keep in mind, you probably won’t be able to contact the LCSO from inside the canyon.


When I’m rounding a curve or cresting a hill and have a clear view of the roadway for hundreds of yards, I’ll flag approaching vehicles around me so they can continue on without even having to slow down. Most drivers really appreciate this.


Be conscious of the conditions up Rist. If they’ve recently experienced forest fires, mudslides or flooding, perhaps a different route is a good idea.


When descending Rist it is almost always best to take the lane. If you’re a slow descender be aware of the vehicles behind you and pull over as necessary to keep traffic from backing up. If you’re a fast descender don’t overtake vehicles on a double yellow. Even if there’s room to get through, it reinforces the impression that cyclists are reckless scofflaws.


Chat ‘em up. If you encounter one of the residents while resting at the top or pulling off layers at the mailboxes, talk to them, make a connection. Most of the people who live up there are really nice and have stories to tell.