This page describes how to prepare for Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance social group rides, etiquette on rides, and helping ensure you and your fellow riders all have a good experience.
Ride leaders are volunteers
First off, ride leaders are just fellow riders like you who enjoy social rides and have volunteered to organize a ride. They're not employees of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and are not trained in any way--but most of them are experienced riders and know the trails they ride well.
Rides and ride leaders vary a lot
Many aspects of a EMBA ride, from the scenery, to the speed, to the weather, to the attitudes of fellow riders, can vary a lot. The EMBA has very few rules/guidelines for what a ride leader is supposed to do or not do. See the Ride Leader Guidelines page for more information on what you can expect from your ride leader. And when in doubt, don't hesitate to contact the ride leader before the ride, if you have any questions about location, length, difficulty of the ride, logistics, etc. The ride leader's name above each ride on the calendar is a link to their email address.
Be on time! Unless otherwise stated in the ride post, assume that the ride will in fact be leaving from the trail head parking lot at the stated time. Some leaders/riders will wait up for people who show up late, but don't count on it. Don't forget that you'll need time to change, get the bike ready, etc.
Signing up for rides
Don't sign up for a ride unless you're fairly confident you will in fact make it. Ride leaders have expressed frustration with people who remove themselves from a ride at the last moment. This is especially true if the ride has a size limit on it, and is full or close to being full. It's only fair to others who might want to take your spot. A couple days before the ride, please consider whether you think you'll really be able to make it and take your name off if you think you might not. If you cancel within a few days of the ride and the ride was full, you get brownie points for posting a message and letting people know your slot opened up.
What to bring on the ride
First of all, bring a helmet. All riders must wear a helmet on a Evergreen ride.
We strongly recommend protective eye wear; on overcast days or in low light conditions many riders will wear plain un-tinted lenses.
Bring enough food and water--in fact, bring a little more than you think you'll need. Stick an extra candy bar, energy bar, and/or energy gel in your pack. Some people bring a sandwich, others trail mix or nuts. For water, some people can get by with a water bottle or two, but most use a hydration backpack for longer rides. On longer rides and hot days, it's good to make sure you replenish electrolytes (essential salts) with a sports drink or an energ products that contains them. (Some gels do.)
Plan your clothes for variable weather conditions, at all times of year. Even in summer, high elevation rides can potentially turn wet and cold quickly even if the forecast looks good. For anything above 5000 feet, bring a long-sleeve top of some sort, any time of year.
A common set of items in a rider pack might include:
- A wind breaker, rain jacket, backup long sleeve jersey, or vest;
- Spare tube, tire levers, and pump
- Food and water
- Backup snacks
- Multi-tool; for some also chain tool, spoke wrench, backup disc brake pads
- Zip ties or duct tape for MacGyver repairs
- Very basic first-aid, e.g. an ace bandage, some ibuprofen, antihistamines.
- Map of the trails if available; might be in the Evergreen Trail Guide; for back country rides a Green Trails map
- A whistle to signal distress
In general, be more conservative and plan for more unexpected conditions if the ride is more remote. (Tiger Mountain counts as somewhat remote--it can be a long walk back to the car!)
Make sure your bike is in good working order, and bring basic bring tools and supplies for your bike, e.g. a multi-tool for minor adjustments, tire levers, a spare tube, and a pump or air cartridge. Ride leaders are not expected to be prepared or willing to make repairs on riders' bikes. Experienced riders will often carry some additional bits like spare disc brake pads, a few zip ties, and some duct tape (carried wrapper around a pump).
The pace of the ride
The pace rating for EMBA rides (Social, Moderate, etc.) can be very subjective at times. "Social" for one rider or ride-leader can be "Fast" for another. So, if you're new to the club, remember that you may find yourself on a ride that's much faster, or much slower, than you'd hoped. That's usually OK--don't worry too much about being the slowest rider on a ride. Everyone gets a turn at that role. However, if you feel you cannot complete the ride and want to leave, it's very important that you let the ride leader know. Don't just split up from the group--when people notice you are missing, they may spend considerable effort looking for you to make sure you're OK. You may want to pick your first few rides at trail systems that are less isolated and have easy bail out options, like St Edwards State Park, Soaring Eagle, Tapeworm, South SeaTac, or Tolt MacDonald.
Good group riding habits
This all may seem a bit obsessive at first, but after a few group rides you'll probably appreciate most of these.
- When you come to an intersection, yell out "left" or "right" to the person behind you, and make sure they hear you and know which way to go. If there's any uncertainty as to whether they heard you, WAIT.
- When the person in front of you yells out "left" or "right", repeat it so they know you heard, unless you're close enough to them that it's obvious which way to go.
- If you're the second-to-last person in the group, make sure to wait up now and then for the last person. If they have to stop, due to an injury or mechanical problem... then the closer you are to them, the less time, hassle, and logistics will be involved in going back to find them.
- Don't follow too closely behind another rider. Leave some space between you and them. This is in your own interest: if they flub a move and stop or dismount, it'll give them time to get out of your way so you don't hit them and don't have to stop as well.
- Conversely, if you stall yourself, please get out of the way of any rider coming behind you so they can continue on without stopping. Nothing breaks up a group ride like little "pile ups" of people stopping because the first person goofed on their bike handling.
- Ride On Open Trails Only.
- Leave No Trace.
- Control Your Bicycle!
- Always Yield Trail.
- Never Scare Animals.
- Plan Ahead.
Carpooling to rides
Basic rule: If you are in somebody else's car, always offer gas money. If you are the driver, always accept it. Be respectful of the vehicle you are traveling in. Treat it better than your own.