What does "Ride Backwards" mean?

What does "Ride Backwards" mean?

There's often more to a name than meets the eye. In our case, that is certainly true. I began this design journey back when I was a firefighter for the City of Madison, WI. My Lieutenant would turn around from his front seat in Engine 8 and jokingly say,

     "Don't get me in trouble or I'll get demoted and have to ride backwards with you guys."

Riding backwards is a term that firefighters use on the job to refer to their position on the crew. To say you ride backwards or are riding backwards means that you are functioning as a firefighter on the crew that shift. 

Next time you see a fire truck go by, take a look in the back windows of the rig and you will see that the firefighters are seated facing backwards in the jump seats. The driver/chauffer obviously faces forward as does the Lt. or Captain, whoever is seated next to them in front.

When I started doing apparel design it was focused on gear for my crew at Station 8. A number of us were competing in stair climbs, played hockey, and competed in other sports. We needed gear that that was good for working out, super durable, and repped the job we loved with cool athletic graphics. Lightweight, Dri-Fit "Truck Shorts" were one of the first pieces I did for my crew with an athletically styled axe graphic on the leg.

I was an athlete myself, and so are most on the job. Firefighting is a team sport when done correctly. And teams have pride. The Truck Shorts were a hit, and soon the energy and excitement around high-quality performance gear and the mystical properties of moisture-wicking fabric with iconic fire-related designs caught on and spread. Taking apparel orders on a paper napkin was no longer an option. I needed a website. When I went to register a domain for this endeavor there were no good names left available related to firefighting. Not a one. It was time to think outside the box.

What do firefighters know and can easily spell? A crazy complex website name is not a good choice if you want people to find you. Then it came to me, Ride Backwards. Easy done. Every firefighter knew what it meant. It was insider lingo that referred to the job, and most of us could spell it. And that is how Ride Backwards – Quality Firefighter Athletic Wear was born back in 2007.

Fast forward ten years and I am no longer working as a firefighter but am now doing full-time design work and am seated in a racing shell on the Chicago River. The crew in an eight or any rowing shell also rides backward. By this time I had done more than a few apparel designs for our rowing club, and I realized that once again I was riding backwards. It seemed to be my destiny. So I shifted my focus onto the rowing world, and here we are today. Still designing, still riding backwards, but now in boats. 

Not all of RB gear is rowing themed, just like it wasn't all fire themed. I can say that all of it is original in concept, performance based, and on the best quality apparel for the purpose and the price. That will never change. I'm not in this to turn and burn sales and crank out merch. I'm here to make cool designs on gear I want to wear for specific purposes. 

What I design is done with purpose and intent. Hope you dig it.

Design Forward, Ride Backwards.

Mia Zierk

In the image pictured you see our original logo, the flaming head of a pike pole encircled by the shape of an oar. (A pike pole is a tool used in the fire service. I chose it because it was shaped like the letter 'r,' and because the axe had gotten more than its fair share of attention... Interestingly, you also find pike poles on boats.) I will always keep that flaming pike pole around as it is our roots, and if you are smart, you never forget your roots. Cheers.

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