I don't mind one bit people going backwards on the trail or going slowly as long as they follow etiquette. It exists for safety not for propriety's sake. I'm not talking about using the correct fork for your farkin salad, I'm talking about NOT spearing my kneecap with your QR skewer.
RIDER BACK - If you're being overtaken this call is to the people in front of you. If you're overtaking someone, this is notice they'll need to break off trail
RIDER UP - This call is back to your group notifying them about an oncoming rider. If you see oncoming that doesn't see you, this is your call
ON YOUR LEFT/RIGHT - The faster rider's call, so those you are overtaking know which side you're gonna pass on.
# BACK or CLEAR BACK - Call to oncoming riders informing them if you're solo or if not, how many are behind you. Don't count yourself, dork, he knows you're there...
- When your riding a backwards lap or you're new - scan ahead as far as you can. If you can't see around a sweeper or something, call out "RIDER!"
- When you pass someone going the opposite direction:
*Break RIGHT, just like a car
*Call back to the other riders in your group "RIDER UP!"
*Tell the oncoming rider how many you have back. E.G. - "3 back or clear back"
- When you're being overtaken by a faster rider break right UNLESS he calls "ON YOUR RIGHT", then break left.
- When you're overtaking someone, first and foremost, don't be a douchebag. Overtaking riders tend to be viewed as dicks anyway, so be extra-cognizant of this fact and be super-cool. Call out "RIDER BACK!" early enough so the slower rider has time to break. If you want the right side call it. If you can tell the person is a novice (plastic pedals, shiny new bike, helmet tipped back, seat too low, white knuckles on the flats, no bike shorts) be extra-super-duper-cool. They are probably a bit scared so you MUST call your side - "RIDER BACK, ON YOUR LEFT". As you pass, thank them and tell them to have a great ride.
- If you pass someone who is broken down (flat,etc.) ask them "You have what you need?". 99% of the time, they'll say yes and you've just earned 1 karma point. If they say no, and you end up fixing a flat for some dude, you'll earn like 50 karma points. I always ask, and I've yet to have to fix someone's flat.
- At some point, if you're overtaking and the guy won't move (stubborn, iPod turned up to eleven, jerk) you'll have to pounce. You'll be annoyed but keep that to yourself. He obviously has enough social problems as it is, and your righteous indignation isn't gonna do anything but f'up your heart rate.