Universal Laws of trailriding

  1. If you are doing a route you’ve never ridden before, you’ll do it the wrong way round… down all the smooth, gentle fire roads and up the swoopy, bumpy singletrack.

  2. If you are riding doubletrack it’s always the other track which is smoother. If you try to swap over you’ll either crash going over the middle or the smooth side will swap over too…

The rules seem pretty consistent at my recently discovered new Red Bull training spot; I’ve been doing a few rides in the woodland around Alfred’s Tower, in Wiltshire, here. It’s a fairly small patch at the south end of a long ridge but offers loads of tracks perfect for zooming around on the 29er. The car park is on the top of the hill by the tower; a number of smaller ridges split off southwards so you can cruise along the flat tops or set your legs on fire descending into or climbing out of the valleys. It’s a compact kind of a place that you can explore for ages, get utterly lost and disorientated, but never be more than half an hour or so from the car park. There was a chap on a bike zooming around the last time I was there; we passed each other about four times in the two hours or so…

It’s great on an evening; the sound of the tyre crunching over the ground and even me noisily grunting up a hill doesn’t seem to put off the local wildlife so there’s a regular assortment of badgers, foxes, deer, rabbits and birds of prey around. Magical stuff.

Next weekend calls for a return for some night riding, methinks…


I would add this item to the universal laws.

The first time you make it all the way to the top of a very difficult hill, one you’ve tried to climb unsuccessfully dozens of times, if you throw your arms in the air and shout “YES!” when you finally make it to the top, you will hit a tiny pebble and UPD.

How true

been ther done that got the scars.

Re: Universal Laws of trailriding

I think our friend ‘phil’ here is actually George Bush in disguise!!! :astonished:

Quick ‘phil’ how do you say nuclear? (hint: New-Q-Ler)

Seriously though heres Universal Law number 4…

  1. Theres always someone coming around the bend just as you do a spectacularly spastic UPD.

Now off to the woods for me…

  1. When you stop for a breather, clearing a space on a nearby tree stump to sit down for a second and getting your arse nice and damp, just after you set off there’s a clean dry bench just around the corner/over the next hill.

Wow, this is a great collection building up! I would call it Murphy’s Laws of Trail Riding. Most applies to bikes as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find a much longer bike version of these laws somewhere…

  1. If your cycle is going to break, it usually manages to do it just after your turnaround point, when you’re as far from the car as possible.

With everyone’s permission, I would like to submit this list for the next issue of On One Wheel. Keep adding though; there’s time for plenty more!

  1. The minute you take off to catch up with the ride leader, the slow group finds some fantastic stunts and you miss watching the best line of the day.

  2. The chances of screwing up on a stunt or line is directly proportional to the number of cameras present.

LOL @ 8, its so true…

  1. The more painful the potential UPD is, the more likely it is to happen. (The “You never fall on the soft stuff” Principle)


The reason you cant make it up a particularly hard line,and everyone else can,is their uni is better than yours in some way.

  1. You will always make the most difficult climbs / drops / stunts when no witnesses are present.

Item 11 is possibly a corollary of #s 4 & 8 (or vice versa).

  1. You can do a stunt successfully and flawlessly 100 times, but you will fall when you show it to somebody new.

  2. Every really difficult stunt is preceded by a tiny hidden root or rock, approximately 1/2 to 1.5 revolutions away, too small to see but which will trip you every other attempt.

Item 13 is a specific example of what I call muscle memory cross-circuitry. This occurs when your muscles are focused on their memory of something hard you are trying to do (jumping over that log), and as a result fail to navigate something very easy on the approach (you UPD as a result of a tiny rock).

I call B.S. on this one. I’ve always had the cheapest uni in the bunch and have never been held back… if anything the inverse may be true.

Instead I propose to replace this law with the following:

  1. You will run out of food / water just as you are starting to get really hungry / thirsty. If you brought enough food / water for the trip it is certain your trailmates didn’t and they will make sure to help enforce this law.

And a proposed new law:

  1. Regardless of the amount of armor you wear, you are most likely to be injured in places where you’re not covered… especially at the places right where your armor stops (i.e. just above elbow guard, just below shin guard)

Or, you can keep the “fun” in this one with a possible slight mod:

The reason you cant make it up a particularly hard line,and everyone else can,is their uni is better than yours in some way. Even if it isn’t.

The probability that your new shoes will lose traction, slip off of the pedals and result in a UPD during a stunt is directly proportional to:
a) the size of the audience,
b) the proportion of that audience of the opposite sex, and
c) the number of times you successfully completed it before.

It is orthogonal to the difficulty of the stunt.

This may be but a slight refinement of an earlier law. I think we’re at about 16; I think the numbers are off a bit now.

Also, I like the name “Universal Laws” better than “Murphy’s Laws.” Just my zwei Pfennig.

I can understand it being inversly proportional to the difficulty of the stunt, but orthogonal? I understand there are several definitions of orthogonal but genreally i believe it means roughly ‘at right angles to’, which would suggest that the likelyhood is not affected by the difficulty of the stunt as it has no component in the ‘likeliehood’ direction (think of it like an argand diagram). Unless that’s what you meant of course…


It is unrelated / not correlated to the difficulty of the stunt. Easy stunts are not exempt from this universal law.

Sorry. I should have been clearer.

The Failure Rate of a stunt increases at 33 times the number of seconds over 2 one hesitates (usually in a still stand, or hopping adjacent to an obstacle) before attempting. That is, if you hesitate for 4 seconds (2 seconds more than the 2 allowed) you’ll have a 66% chance of failure. If you hesitate for 5 seconds (3 seconds more than the 2 allowed) you’ll have a 99% chance of failure.

In layman’s term: don’t think, just go.