Loops and Routes!

Hello Friends! Here are some routes for you to check out. Since these are times for solo rides I thought I would share some of the rides that I have enjoyed on my own. I have personally ridden/verified each of these routes and have added a little description of what you should generally expect out there. Each of these routes are posted on my personal Strava, which is not private in any manner, so feel free to head over there and see other routes that I have created in the past or see where I’m riding today! These routes all have the potential to be edited for more or less gravel roads, some off road adventure as the trails dry up, and for adding/subtracting miles. Feel free to reach out to me anytime to ask questions about these or other potential routes or route finding. I would love to chat about it and help you find rides that you can get excited about!

Since we can’t have group pride rides right now, I am putting up these routes as good spring options for getting you out there on two wheels. I hope that you will share your rides with the rest of us! Please post pictures on the Facebook page or tag us on Instagram for a feature on our story, join the pride rides Strava club , and maybe all of the above! Let’s connect virtually about our adventures on bikes while we can’t physically get together.

Trail Etiquette

Mountain biking is a sport of shared venue. Whether we are riding alone or in a group, we are all riding bikes on trails that are built by a trail crew, maintained by a crew or club, owned by a person, town, tribe or business, and enjoyed by many other users. It is important to keep all of these things in mind when we are out there riding. Respect the land that you are on, the other users that are there, and the people that make being there possible. One of the very first things we should learn about a trail system is who is using the trails. What activities are other people using the trails we are riding on for? Many trails are multi-recreational, giving access to many types of activities. This could include: Hiking, biking, dog walking, horse back riding, skiing, snowshoeing, snow machining, etc. Since we are all using the trail differently and at different speeds, it is important to acknowledge each other and give each other space. Here are some “rules” or trail etiquette suggestions to be the best and conscientious trail user you can be.

Yield when appropriate. Some trails have right of way rules. Uphill users are asked to yield to downhill users and sometimes it is the other way around. Usually bikers are asked to yield most other users. This is usually due to the idea that cyclists are the least vulnerable user in most circumstances. Snow machines are asked to yield to all other users and to drive slowly through shared access areas. While these are common, it is not all encompassing and some trails deny access to certain activities, including biking. It is important to research a new to you trail to find out the rules for that particular trail. Often times trail access for certain activities can be contingent on users following specific rules.

Stay in control at all times. Or do your absolute best to do so. It is important for your safety and the safety of others to maintain control of your bike. This is not to say you shouldn’t try new things for fear of crashing, etc. but when attempting new maneuvers, be sure the coast is clear, communicate your plan, and then send it! Know that there may be other users down trail, perhaps only really let loose if you know that a trail is bike only and is directional(one way trail). Similarly if you need to stop on a trail, it is best practice to step out of the way to let other users pass or wait to stop where there is space for you to be off of the trail.

Practice leave no trace. There are seven principles of leave no trace. For another post or for when you feel like googling, they come with fun hand symbols and illustrations. Basically the are: don’t litter(this includes things you deem biodegradable like food scraps), don’t disturb the peace of nature, don’t cut new trails without permission, stay on designated trails, don’t have fires outside of designated fire areas, bury or carry your poop and carry out your canines poop, leash or really truly have your pets under voice command. Leash rules are a highly contested rule, but dogs and pets are nuisances to wildlife and can be a bother to other trail users and diminish their enjoyment of the trails. Plus if they poop in the trail and you don’t see it, it’s not a tree falling, the poop is still in the trail. No one wants to step in or run over dog poop. 🙁

Respect trail closures. Many, many hours go into building and maintaining the trails. When a chapter or trail network is closed, don’t ride on it. It could be closed for weather, trail work, clearing, forestry work, pest control, logging, events, hunting, etc. Whatever the reason, it is up to the land managers whether or not the trails will be open on any given day. Additionally, with time and if you ask other experienced riders, you will find there are days that you should avoid riding trails even if the land manager doesn’t post a closure. Extremely wet and rainy days tend to lead to rutted and muddy trails that dry and harden with ruts that will have to be repaired by trail crews, most of which are volunteer crews with limited resources and time for trail work. Similarly on groomed snowy fat bike trails, when the weather is warm and things are getting melty and/or if you are leaving a ruts in the groomed trail, do not ride. In any of those trail closed situations, pump up those trail tires or switch yourself to your skinny tired bike and hit the grav grav aka gravel roads. Have yourself a scenic ride where you’re sure to spot a barn, sugar shack, cow, townies, brooks, a good view, and random art installations. That’s Vermont for ya.

Go to trail work days. Tied into the rule above, it is best etiquette to spend some of your ride time helping to build or maintain trails. Even if you can only make one trail day at one location all summer long, get out there and try to participate. Most trail crews are 100% volunteer based and do amazing work to bring us such sweet sweet single track and the least we can do as riders is offer to carry some lumber, rake some trail, clear some trees or help repair a bridge a few times a season. We will post some trail work day options on our social medias and special pride ride trail work opportunities on our calendar. Join us to chip in and have a good time diggin’ some dirt!

Above all it is best to etiquette to be friendly and welcoming of each other and other users. Pride Rides is all about inclusion on the trails and we wish to exemplify that value at every ride be it with a group or on our own. Acknowledge each other and give a greeting as you pass or while stopped at a view. We are all out here to enjoy nature, the great outdoors, sweet trails, active movement, fresh air, and good company.

Why Pride Rides?

Why Pride Rides? For diversity, inclusion, and representation of LGBTQIA+ folks on bikes, because barriers to inclusion for LGBTQIA+ folks still exist.

It is good to belong! Building a community of queer folks inside the community of cyclists in VT creates a space for folks to ride without having to hide/closet or be quiet about their queerness, which for many of us is a big and important part of our identity. While I, and many of my friends, have had mostly positive experiences regarding acceptance and inclusion in Vermont, there have still been instances of discrimination, exclusion, ignorance, phobias, etc. These can be the dangers of being “out” among a group of mostly heteronormative people that may not accept or have an awareness of LGBTQIA+ people. Things have changed for the better in a lot of ways since over the years, but society still has a ways to go in the realm of LGBTQIA+ rights, awareness, and acceptance. Having a LGBTQIA+ specific group gives us that freedom to express ourselves fully and without the fear of judgment or worse. It is a safe and welcoming space to be ourselves on bikes. This can be especially important for folks who are new to biking. To be a beginner and be learning a new skill is intimidating all on its own. We can have an easier time learning when we feel safe and like we belong in this new space.

It is also for representation. To show the broader community that we are out here! My favorite little saying with a twist of my own, “we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re riding bikes.” This can be an obvious statement of existence or a resistance to the image that mountain biking is an activity of straight white men. Part of who I am is my transness, my queerness, also I am a cyclist. We all have multiple aspects of our identities, but often LGBTQIA+ are not shown to exist in certain spaces, leading to the idea that we don’t. Cycling and sport is one of those spaces. Though, because of brave athletes and allies and better representation, that is changing! When we come together and create this community we are also showing LGBTQIA+ youth that they too can exist in this space. Another of my favorites “you have to see it to be it!”

Other than just acceptance there are some statistical barriers. Bikes can be expensive to get into. Once we get into biking we joke about the magic bike formula: N+1. Where N is the number of bikes you currently have and +1 is how many you should have. Therefore it is an infinite number of bikes. All bike banter aside the first bike is a major investment, especially for mountain biking. To get a mountain bike that is mechanically safe and up to the task of taking you to the woods can cost you anywhere from $300-$3000(even more if you want to get really wild and extravagant). In addition to these numbers, statistically LGBTQIA+ people are more likely than their cisgender heterosexual counterparts to have lower incomes, experience economic shortages, live below the poverty line, be unemployed, etc. I have personally fallen into one or more of these categories for my whole life. Fortunately, I have had some really great opportunities and some seriously wonderful friends who have made that economic barrier surmountable for me. One of the major goals of Pride Rides is to address those barriers and provide the same access that was given to me to other queer identified folks. What that has looked like so far is working with allies, local shops and trail networks to: provide demos and rental donations for folks to ride at the Pride Rides, wave trail fees for riding on the day of events, and designing the rides to be beginner friendly. Looking to the future we have hopes to provide access to bikes for every ride and any rider who needs one.

After almost a full year of Pride Rides, I am so happy to say that it has been more of a success than I expected. So many wonderful people came out to ride each and every event. They have been some of the most well attended group rides I’ve ever organized or attended. I’m stoked to keep this ride rolling and see how we can grow and develop in the future. Thanks for coming out and riding!