FOR MOST OF US, FRIDAYS ARE SPENT WATCHING THE CLOCK, waiting anxiously for the workweek to end. At Chromag Bikes, however, the weekend starts a day early. On Friday-every Friday-staff and friends of the Whistler-based frame and components company spend the day riding.
Chromag's founder Ian Ritz didn't plan it this way, but now it's an inviolable rule that Fridays are devoted to the trails. "It started when Darcy Burke and I had a day off work and decided to go riding. We got together for breakfast and it just so happened other friends were there, so we all rode together. It happened three or four times in a row and so we just kept doing it. Now it's become a sacred gathering dedicated to friendship and riding."
Friday rides have always been an all-day affair. Someone cooks breakfast (everyone is expected to hose at some point) and brews copious pots of coffee to wash down the plates of fuel. Nobody is in a rush. As riders drift in, lighthearted banter fills the room with the latest gossip. You don't have to be a Chromag employee or ride a Chromag bike to take part. Anyone is welcome, but usually newcomers are brought into the fold by a senior Friday rider.
The cast of characters couldn't be more diverse, but one thing is certain: Everyone is up for anything and most rides become an epic affair in some way. The breakfast host is more often than not assigned the title of 'ride captain' and selects the day's route. Some days, it might involve lots of hike-a-bikes to access rarely ridden trails, while other days it's a youthful rally with everyone good-naturedly jostling one another on the most technical parts of the trail. The stories from the rides have become local folklore and are occasionally fodder for a good ribbing.
While many mountain-bike companies organize regular lunch or evening rides, few commit to expending an entire day of the work week riding. Friday rides are seen as being vital to maintaining a connection with friends, the riding community and the trails that inspire Chromag's products. Riding came before the business of mountain biking, and that's how it should always be.
This story originally appeared in the May issue of Bike. To subscribe to the digital or print edition, or purchase a back issue of the magazine, click here.