General questions Ordering & Shipping


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 a cool athletic graphic. 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

Do I have to be a rower to buy RB products?

Nope. Do you have to play soccer to buy shorts? All are welcome. Great gear and cool designs are for everybody.

Can I use your artwork?

No. You cannot use or reproduce any Ride Backwards designs, slogans or images without express legal consent. Unauthorized use or reproduction is theft, straight up. All of our graphics are copyrighted and any unauthorized use will be fully prosecuted. Please don't do it. If you want permission to use one of our designs or slogans for a non-commercial reason (i.e. you are not selling it), please contact us first. We're pretty cool and are always more than willing to entertain any reasonable request.

How do I figure out my t-shirt size?

I get asked a lot, "How do I know what size tee to order?" People look at the size charts, and they are often not helpful if you don't know your magic numbers for "Body Width" and "Body Length." Here's some info that can help make online t-shirt shopping easier:

T-shirt manufacturers tend to play fast and loose with sizing. It's brutal. The size charts we include are the ones vendors give us, so we try to stay true to what they report, and they are all different. One brand's adult size medium is another brand's junior size XS. There are no standards in this industry.

I think the reason "chest" measurements aren't often given for t-shirts is that it's more subjective as to what size to wear for tees. Wear an incorrectly sized business shirt and you look like you can't dress yourself, but for t-shirts, anything from skin-tight to a full size over is generally considered fine. It all depends on what fit you prefer. And the terms "slim," "fitted," and "trim or lean fit," also all mean something different depending on the vendor. The best you can determine from those words are, "it's tighter and smaller."

All this being true about the difficulties of t-shirt sizing, the best suggestion I have when shopping online is this:

Take your fave tee, the one you love the fit of the best, lay it flat on your bed and measure it. Then you will have your t-shirt size for as long as you like the fit of that tee.

Here's how to do it:

BODY LENGTH: Lay garment flat (face down). Measure from center back neckline seam straight down to the bottom of the hem.

BODY WIDTH: Lay garment flat. Measure 1" below the armhole of the garment across the chest to the other armhole. Basically, pit to pit.

SLEEVE LENGTH: Lay garment flat (face down). Measure from the shoulder seam to the bottom edge of the sleeve opening. (Some charts have you measure from the collar of the tee.) Try both on the tee you like and see which is closest to the brand's listed number on the one you are interested in buying.

t-shirt size diagram


Is this site secure?

The Ride Backwards shop utilizes a variety of payment options with encrypted websites for your utmost safety at checkout, depending on which checkout method you choose. Pick the one you feel most comfortable with. 

What is your privacy policy?

Your privacy is very important to us. Any personal data we receive is used solely for Ride Backwards business transactions and communication with our customers, and is never shared or sold. Because we use only securely encrypted shopping carts, we do not have access to your credit card information.

Do I have to pay sales tax?

Only if you live in the state of Illinois or if you are receiving an international package.  International customers are responsible for all duties and taxes on their imports. (See below.)

How much do you charge for shipping?

Shipping is $6.00 on domestic orders under $60, and $10.00 on orders from $60-$99.99. We're pleased to offer free Priority shipping on all domestic orders over $250.

Our Priority shipping rates are based on total amount purchased:

Priority Domestic Rates
From(USD) To(USD) Rate(USD)
0.01 29.99 8.00
30.00 99.99 12.00
100.00 249.99 16.00
250.00 and up FREE

International customers have the option of choosing from a variety of USPS and UPS shipping methods, depending on desired speed of delivery.  Rates are carrier-based, and calculated at checkout.

How will you ship my order?

We typically ship your items using USPS with Delivery Confirmation, or UPS if you have a really heavy large order. 

* We always post on the RB website and on our RB Facebook page & Instagram account any shipping delays or issues we are facing.  And we will let you know if we are at a conference or trade show or just taking a break.  Any reason that packages will not ship within the week stated on the product page will be posted in multiple spots to keep you informed.

You will receive an email confirmation when we ship your package. If for any reason we are not able to ship your purchase within the stated time frame, we will contact you by email. If you need faster delivery for a special occasion or have a deadline, please select Priority shipping.

IMPORTANT:  Standard shipping can take over a week, depending on your distance from Chicago, weather, and any service interruptions our carriers are having. Once we get your package to the carrier, USPS, or UPS, it is in their hands. At this point we are both in the same boat watching the order's tracking numbers and checking on its status. 

Sometimes the USPS misses scanning in a package, and it is totally safe and on its way to you, you just can't track it. If any order inside the domestic U.S. does not arrive within a week's time (in business days) in normal weather, then something may be up and it could have gone to New York via Dallas.  (Every once and a while that happens -- they put it on the wrong truck.  That is very rare though.) 

If you think something is funky with your shipment, and it has gone missing, contact us at sales@ridebackwards.com, and we will watch it with you and do everything we can to locate it and get it to your door ASAP.  

Do you ship to APO/FPO military addresses?

Yes! We ship our products by USPS, so military shipping is no problem. Our shopping cart will allow you to enter APO or FPO in the 'City' field, and AA, AE, or AP in the 'State' pull-down menu. Not only that, but we ship to military addresses for free - a small way to say thanks and serve those serving us.

What is your return policy?

We want to make your experience at Ride Backwards a great one. At Ride Backwards, 100% SATISFACTION IS REQUIRED.

Our policy lasts 30 days. If 30 days have gone by since your purchase, unfortunately, we can’t offer you a refund or exchange. 

Original shipping costs are non-refundable. The cost of shipping is not deducted from your refund, but we will send you a free return label upon request.

To be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it.

RB gift cards are non-refundable.

There are certain situations where only partial refunds may be granted:

• Any item not in its original condition, is damaged or missing parts for reasons not due to our error
• Any item that is returned more than 30 days after delivery


Once your return is received and inspected, we will send you an email to notify you that we have received your returned item. We will also notify you of the approval or rejection of your refund.
If you are approved, then your refund will be processed, and a credit will automatically be applied to your credit card or original method of payment.

Late or missing refunds

If you haven’t received a refund, first check your bank account.
Then contact your credit card company, it may take some time before your refund is officially posted. Next, contact your bank. There is often some processing time before a refund is posted. If you’ve done all of this and you still have not received your refund yet, please contact us at info@ridebackwards.com.

Sale items

Only regular priced items may be refunded, unfortunately, sale items cannot be refunded.


Exchanges are based on inventory levels. If we have the size you need in stock we will gladly make an exchange for a better fit. Some of our gear is printed on-demand and we may not have any extras. If we don’t have an exchange available in the size you need we will offer you a full refund on the item if returned in its original condition.


To return your product, mail it to:

1355 W Rosemont Ave # 3
Chicago, IL 60660

Original shipping costs are non-refundable. The cost of shipping is not deducted from your refund, but we will send you a free return label upon request.

Depending on where you live, the time it may take for your exchanged product to reach you may vary.

If you are shipping an item over $75, you should consider using a trackable shipping service or purchasing shipping insurance. We don’t guarantee that we will receive your returned item.

Is there a phone number I can call for assistance?

We don't list a phone number on the RB website, because we do not keep regular "business hours" in the office. We do, however, check our email practically 24/7, so if you'd like to talk to someone on the phone, SEND US AN EMAIL WITH YOUR PHONE NUMBER and an RB Crew member will call you back as soon as possible: sales@ridebackwards.com. Thanks.

return to top

Close (esc)

Join the RB Design Club

Stay connected. Sign up for the RB Design Club. We're in it for quality, not quantity. Most of our apparel is available only during set order windows. Don't miss out because you've been offline or away. Members will be alerted when our newest available design is going live in the shop. This is not that often so emails are few and far between.

*Add us to your contacts so we don't get caught in your spam filters! 

I'm in

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now