There are no flyers or websites dedicated to the Tall Boy Ride, but the event is an institution in Bellingham, Washington. Every Wednesday evening at around 6:30, riders begin to trickle into a clearing just off the Pollo Elastico trail on Galbraith Mountain.
They sit on logs and stones around a fire pit. They recline lazily on their bikes, and invariably pull jumbo cans of beer from their hydration packs. Beer is a big component of the weekly ritual. It's the only real rule of the ride: everyone must bring a tall boy and drink it. Once consumed, the empties are strung festively from the branches of trees around the clearing. Every couple of weeks someone tidies the clearing up, but in the meantime it looks like the site of an ongoing gypsy Christmas party.
There's usually some shit-talking: Some "I heard you slipped a pedal and stopped riding. Crap, you got fat!" type of patter. And then, slowly, the rotating cast of riders climb back on their bikes—singlespeed 29ers, swank all-mountain machines, a smattering of big, brutish rigs—and head out on their respective journeys. Jump trails and stunts await some riders. Grueling, cross-country death marches are in store for others. The one constant? Next Wednesday, the riders will be back. And the Wednesday after that, and the one after that…until the snow begins to fall.
This content was originally published in Bike’s November 2009 issue.