The Poker Ride has become an annual tradition in Fernie. This year

Poker Ride enjoys another year

The Poker Ride has become an annual tradition around Fernie in the fall as biking season begins to wind down.

On Sept. 26, bikers of all calibers gathered at The Royal around 9 a.m. to embark on the Poker Ride. The event is not a race, as it is not timed, but more of a fun day for bikers. The emphasis is on rounding out the mountain bike season with a big ride that takes most of the day, said event organizer Angela Etheridge.

“Basically we want people to spend the whole day biking and having fun,” she said.

The ride includes many of Fernie’s most renowned trails, and riders have the option of opting out if they don’t want to complete all of them.

“There were lots of trails included in the ride, some people rode all of them and some people only rode some of them.  There is no requirement to do the whole route, but this year if you did the whole route it was 48 kilometers and over 1900 meters of elevation gain – all on Fernie’s first class trails.  Trails included in the route were Hyperventilation, Southern Comfort Montane Roots Uprooted, Splitting Bears, Sidewinder, Dem Bones, Hedonism, Old Goat and Happy Gilmar,” Etheridge said. “The poker part works like this – we set the route as mentioned above and throughout that route we put out ‘sticker stations’.  The riders gather the stickers throughout the ride and put those stickers on their High Roller poker card.  At the after-party, which is held at the Royal and Infinitea, each sticker that the rider has gathered gets them a card in their poker hand.  They are dealt their poker hand as they arrive at the after-party, which includes food deliciously prepared by Infinitea.”

This year’s event had more participants than last year, thanks to the inclusion of the “Low Roller” division, allowing riders to complete a shorter distance while still obtaining enough stickers for a full poker hand. Etheridge also noted that they organize at least one game or silly task along the route, and this year they had to ride children’s bikes through an obstacle course.

The Poker Ride has been around for over a decade, and Etheridge credited the help of many people to ensure that it runs smoothly. “These events can’t happen with just one person, it takes a lot of people to come together and volunteer their time.  The Fernie Mountain Bike Club [FMBC] is the organization that funds and backs the event and it wouldn’t happen at all without the FMBC,” she said.