We love nothing more than a beautiful (and only slightly challenging) bike ride followed by a refreshing beer or two. This very informal guide is for others who are like us or who want to join us. Cheers!
I bought my first bike, a light blue Schwinn LaTour 10-speed, when I was 12 years old for $200. (That was pretty expensive for a bike back in the Stone Age.) My family lived at the end of a series of winding country roads in Loudoun County, VA so riding 10-15 miles along them was my entertainment and escape. I briefly took up unicycling, but that was more about showing off than actually riding anywhere.
It took me an entire year to develop a taste for beer before heading to college, but I was determined. And I’m pleased to say that my diligence paid off!
Many years later, I met Jim and thus began our 36-year odyssey of biking whenever and wherever the spirit moved us. Some years we barely got out on the local trails at all – especially when our boys were young. We bought a two-seater trailer for them that affixed to Jim’s bike but invariably, we’d get about two blocks from home and they’d start fidgeting, then biting and hitting each other. (This lasted until they were in their teens.) The Alley Cats — little tandem-like bikes we hooked to the back of ours — weren’t much better. Our then 7-year-old would eventually stop pedaling and start to nod off, which obviously, was very dangerous. (Always have someone ride behind your kids, folks!)
Other years, we got out regularly, renting bikes in the cities we visited (domestic and foreign) and loading up ours for road trips to trails around the Mid-Atlantic.
Our favorite trip to this day was our 10th anniversary vacation in Italy where we took a 6-day, 237-mile ExperiencePlus! bike excursion from Venice to Florence. We biked along the water, through vineyards and olive groves, over a mountain range – and ate so much pasta that we actually gained weight!
I’ve only had two other bikes since that LaTour – the most recent of which was stolen, along with Jim’s bike, THE DAY we decided to start this blog. I only hope the thief gave them to a starving homeless couple who needed transportation to their jobs so they could feed their six malnourished children – thus escaping the special hell that bike thieves everywhere richly deserve.
I grew up in Oak Park, Michigan where my first bike was a red Stingray with a banana seat and my first beer was a fliptop can of Stroh’s Lager. (Obviously, several years passed between the former and latter.)
When I got my first 10-speed, I logged some serious miles on the flat roads of suburban Detroit going to baseball practice, mostly. In my senior year of high school, while biking on a freshly oiled road, I wiped out and was taken to an emergency room. Nevertheless, I showed up for prom that evening with a sling on my arm and a bandage on my forehead (much to the chagrin of my blind date).
I took my bike to college but biking wasn’t really a thing on campus then. So, while living in a fraternity house, I began focusing more on my beer game. Old Style was the local Chicago favorite at the time.
Over the years, Kellie and I have developed distinct styles of biking: she’s an impatient biker who doesn’t like to ride behind anyone else and who doesn’t mind hills (unless they’re unrelenting like the Apennine and Bitterroot Mountains, where her expletives could be heard echoing through the valleys). My style is more languid; I’m good with a leisurely two-hour ride on a flat, paved trail that combines urban and rural scenery. We both love to explore and some of our favorite rides have been in and around cities ranging from our hometown of Washington, DC to ancient roadways outside of Rome and Edinburgh. Wherever and whenever we ride, we try to remember to thank God for enabling us to do what we love, together.
But do we train in the off-season or in advance of a long ride? Nah. Do we stock up on electrolyte replenishing beverages and goopy gel snacks for each ride? Nah. Do we GPS our route and wear heart monitors? Nah. We just have fun. (Although Kellie does check her odometer for mileage and how many calories she’s burned so she can feel guilt-free at the brewery afterwards!)
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with being a serious biker or with being knowledgeable and prepared (in fact, these may actually be good things). That’s just not how we roll. But wherever you fall on the recreational-to-serious biker/beer drinker, we hope you’ll find our posts to be helpful. Cheers!
WANT TO BE A GUEST BLOGGER? We can’t cover the country ourselves, so if you’re interested in sharing a few paragraphs and pictures of your favorite ride and brewery, we’d love it! Please contact Kellie at firstname.lastname@example.org.