~ Bike culture meets beverage culture ~
In honor of National Bike Month (and to kick off National Bike Week!), we checked in with 5 beverage loving bikers around the country and got the scoop on the bikes-meet-bevs lifestyle.
Growing up and living in Nebraska after college I had ample opportunity to ride bikes in and out of city streets as well as traversing single track paths throughout state parks across the Midwest. I purchased my first “real” bike in 1995, and have never rode anything but my Trek 850 since then! I know every inch of the frame, and it feels like an extension of my body each time I take it out. Some 15K to 20K miles of riding later I find myself getting to combine two great passions: biking and drinking (coffee) via Caffeine Crawls across the Midwest! Leading a group of ‘Crawlers’ throughout my city, or a new city has been such a thrill, and an amazing way to experience drink cultures of other communities. It really is the best way to see a city and sample the best it has to offer.
Each city gives me a chance to meet new people: some are bike people (most are just recreationalists); some are happy to be outdoors; some are locals and some have traveled to be involved with the Crawls in a different city. No matter the reason bike routes are always one of the most fun (unless it rains). Exercise, conversation, seeing the sights and sampling the wares of what each city has to offer. There’s no better way … hopefully you’ll join us on a crawl near you!
~ Michael Levine, LAB Teammate
The beverage-lovin' bikers . . .
~ Denver, Colorado ~ Boxcar Coffee Roasters ~
What's your favorite way to carry bevs via bike? Honestly, I'm not much of a coffee for the road type of fella. I don't have one of those neato thermally-sound travel cups with a lid and trying to transport a to-go cup in one hand while I'm cruising on my bike is both difficult and precarious. If I'm at a cafe and in a time crunch, I'll opt for an espresso instead of brewed coffee.
What's the biggest weather challenge you face while biking in Colorado? All the damn warm weather and sunshine we get. With over 300 days of sun a year, bike rides in Colorado can heat up quickly. Nothing is worse than a bad case of swamp ass after a long and sun-kissed commute to work. A soggy, sticky pair of undies is a coffee professional's worst nightmare.
What's the farthest you've ever biked for coffee? Once, on a track bike, I cruised from my house in Denver, CO to the Boxcar shop in Boulder (about 35 miles). After three and a half hours, beer, not coffee, was just what the doctor ordered.
What's your favorite piece of bike gear? Probably a good backpack. Does that count? Having the peace of mind that comes with securing safe passage for a bevy of goods is important when biking. A good backpack should be water resistant, durable, lightweight, and comfortable.
Favorite coffee gear or swag? Mahlkönig's EK43 grinder. One, because it's sexy as hell. Two, it kicks ass at delivering uniform particle size distribution which allows us coffee dweebs to extract more delicious bean juice from the coffee! Wow!
What things has Colorado done to support bike culture, and what things could continue to be improved? One of many ways Colorado has supported bike culture is by fitting bike racks to all public transportation vehicles. Whether you travel by bus, train, or light rail, you and your bike are always welcomed aboard. In doing so, Colorado encourages people to use more efficient, environmentally-friendly methods for getting around this colorful state. Totally cool!
~ Minneapolis, Minnesota ~ Caffeine Crawl Twin Cities Bike Route Tour Guide ~
What's your favorite way to carry bevs via bike?
Brewed Coffee - Wide Mouth Hydro Flask. It is simple and fits right into a water bottle cage. It doesn't have a sip hole, but I figure I never want to be both in a rush and drinking a hot liquid at the same time. The lack of a sip hole forces me to stop and enjoy my coffee. Beer goes right into my water proof roll top backpack from Road Runner bags out of LA. Beans - Detours Coffee Bag, Minnesota version. Or, I re-use the paper bag from the store and put it in my backpack.
What do you wish drivers were more aware of when it comes to bikers? How can drivers improve sharing the road? While we have it pretty good in Minnesota, things can always improve - whether you live in Portland, OR or Portland, ME. I think car drivers need to understand better that when bikers "take the lane," it is actually for their own safety. That usually happens in a situation with lots of traffic and an upcoming change in the road - a forced turn lane, freeway exit/entrance ramps, a curve in the road (which a car might take too tightly and run into the bike lane/zone), etc - so patience is a must. Also, not speeding past a bicycle just to slam on the brakes at the red light in 100 feet. On the flip side, it's in a biker's (and everyone's) best interest for them to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles. If you want your bicycle to be respected as a vehicle, you have to act like one.
What's the farthest you've ever biked for coffee? One time I biked 13 miles (one way) to a state park in the winter. I wanted to try out my new MSR Pocket Rocket stove above the Willow River waterfall. But now that I live above a bakery cafe, I literally just walk downstairs.
What's your favorite piece of bike gear? Favorite coffee gear or swag? Bike gear: MonkeyLectric wheel lights are fun toys. The tool I find my hands most often is a simple 15 millimeter wrench. Coffee gear: I love my Sowden Softbrew. It might be taken as heresy by some, but I view the soft brew as an improvement on the French Press. Coffee swag: I have a Dimension Coffee Cup Bell on the handle of my tea kettle (because that steaming whistle noise just wasn't enough noise to celebrate the brewing of coffee).
~ Kansas City, Missouri ~ Crows Coffee ~
What's your favorite way to carry bevs via bike? Beers fit perfectly in the bottle cages! But the one handed coffee ride works too. Just get creative!
What's the biggest weather challenge you face while biking in your city? Can winter be a weather challenge? Yes, winter!
What do you wish drivers were more aware of when it comes to bikers? How can drivers improve sharing the road? I wish drivers would understand more the importance of giving us our space, at least 3 feet, and slowing down while riding next to cyclist on the road. It can be really startling when cars pay no mind passing just feet from you when they're going 35 miles an hour. Just pay some respect to the person's life vs. being passive aggressive toward cyclist on the road.
What's the farthest you've ever biked for coffee or beer? 108 miles, there are always beers after a ride like that!
What's your favorite piece of bike gear? My best bike gear is hands down my bike itself. It's the most efficient form of transportation on the planet. Keeps you healthy, it's social and just plain fun!
~ San Diego, California ~ Caffeine Crawl San Diego Bike Route Tour Guide ~
What's your favorite way to carry bevs via bike? I'm a sucker for beverage containers but try to stick to only a couple since I've been more and more interested in zero waste principles. I got a really great travel mug from The Filling Station on the Kansas City Caffeine Crawl last year, and love taking it everywhere I go because it fits in pretty much every cup holder and is small enough to fit in my purse when I'm done. Plus, it says "Your Mom Drinks Decaf" and I love it.
What's the biggest weather challenge you face while biking in San Diego? San Diego is the best place to ride a bike, weather wise. Other than the occasional rain, we have near perfect weather most of the year. The biggest challenge here is traffic/street safety, terrain and distance to where you are going.
What do you wish drivers were more aware of when it comes to bikers? How can drivers improve sharing the road? I wish drivers were more patient. Many drivers are aware enough to give cyclists space when passing. But sometimes drivers take risks in order to do it and that puts us all at jeopardy!
What's the farthest you've ever biked for coffee? I did a bike route in Denver for the Denver Caffeine Crawl...that's pretty far! It was wonderful. I highly recommend biking for coffee because it's fun, you get a mini workout and the coffee fuels you!
What's your favorite piece of bike gear? Favorite coffee gear or swag? Bike gear: my bike. I wanted a bike I could use pretty much anywhere in San Diego but couldn't afford a nice one. A few years ago, I found a police auction in Balboa Park and scored a rad bike for under $100. Coffee gear: too many to count. I just bought a Cowboy Bepop mug on etsy and I am pumped.
What things has San Diego done to support bike culture, and what things could continue to be improved? I love what some of our local bike advocacy groups are doing to promote bike riding and help make it better for SD cyclists. Many downtown roads are being repaved with better bike lanes and more bike lock areas are popping up everywhere. For programs, they are creating group ride opportunities and helping educate on proper riding. There is still a lot to be improved. I know bike theft is a big problem in downtown San Diego. I hope our bike share stations improve over time. I don't think they are priced unreasonably for their year memberships, but their day pass rates are very unreasonable. More locals would use them if they were priced better (I know I would!).
~ Columbia, Missouri ~ Caffeine Enthusiast ~
What's your favorite way to carry bevs via bike? I have a 16 ounce Zojirushi travel mug that is with me almost everywhere I go. Coffee or tea will stay hot or cold for hours, and it's leak-proof, so it's just tossed into one of my bags.
What do you wish drivers were more aware of when it comes to bikers? How can drivers improve sharing the road? I think being aware of the size of our relative bubbles as we're occupying the roadways. I know the rules say 3 feet, and even I know that's hard to really judge in a lot of circumstances. The urban cycling classes I've been to have suggested cyclists leave that much between them and the edge of the road as well. Most of the time cyclists seem to stay more inside than that, making the space to our left deceptively large. And if we swing out further into the road to take the whole lane, it's usually because we want to communicate our intentions clearly as vehicles, or because we are avoiding road debris. My best thoughts for improving sharing the road is just to practice alert, patient driving.
What's the farthest you've ever biked for coffee, beer, or wine? A little over a year ago I did a day trip to KC inspired by Caffeine Crawl and other KC favorites. I parked my car in a lot in the center of town and started off my day with You Say Tomato and Parisi Coffee, a Boulevard Brewery tour and The Roasterie, Oddly Correct, One More Cup and The Filling Station. All totaled it was a 26 mile route and a great way to spend the day!
A few bikes + coffee companies to check out . . .
Angry Catfish Bicycle + Coffee Bar
The Denver Bicycle Cafe
Heritage Bicycles Bikes & Coffee
Omaha Bicycle Co.
The Coffee Ride
VeloPlus + Maps Coffee Roasters