The freedom of cruising around on two wheels is such a good feeling. Yes, sometimes cars or public transportation are necessary for long distance travel or in horrible weather. But the rest of the time, watching the pavement disappear under your wheels as you fly, block by block, to your destination, is the way to go. If there's one thing Philadelphians seemed to take away from the recent Pope Francis visit, it's a rediscovery of the wonder of bicycles, and the epic fun of group rides (see here for a great video of a multi-thousand person bike ride through downtown Philly).
Bikes & Beers is an organization that believes in bicycles, bike safety and awareness, and building communities through human interaction. They organize group rides which incorporate stops at local breweries and pubs for refreshments, and donate 20% of proceeds to bike advocacy programs. They've held rides in a number of places including San Diego, Denver, Baltimore, and Salt Lake City. On Sunday, October 18th, they'll hold their second annual ride here in Philadelphia.
The approximately 14-mile ride will start and end at Yard's Brewery on Delaware Avenue, with three stops for brews and snacks along the way: first at Rembrandt's Bar in Fairmount, then Dock Street Brewery in West Philly, and finally McGillan's Ale House in Center City, before heading back to Yard's. The riders will meet up pretty early in the morning to sign in, and guess what? We'll be there with coffee for sale to perk every one up for the morning ahead. To purchase tickets, click on over here. If you use the promo code HUBBUB, you'll get $5 off the registration fee! The fee includes free beer samples at every stop, a pint glass, a beer at Yard's, as well as a super fun party after the ride. And 20% of the proceeds go to the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, which does such great work for cyclist safety and legislation in our city.
Bikes & Beers was founded by Sam Accardi, a total biking enthusiast. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sam to learn more about his story:
HubBub: Have you always been into biking?
Sam: I live in a small town (Stone Harbor, NJ), so yes, I have been biking my whole life. I rarely use a car when I'm in a city or my hometown. I love riding to the beach to go surfing, to go out with friends, or anywhere really.
HubBub: What sparked the idea for the Bikes & Beers rides?
Sam: I was in San Diego for an internship at the VA Medical Center and taking classes at UCSD. I was into cycling out there, and the craft beer scene is amazing in San Diego. A group of friends started riding around from brewery to brewery sampling beers, and we thought it would be a great idea to hold an event with that format. Our first event in San Diego in 2014 had over 700 riders! The ride featured some huge breweries including Stone Brewing, so that was cool to have instant exposure to the area.
HubBub: How did it start in Philly?
Sam: We had originally planned Bikes & Beers to be an annual ride in San Diego, but when I informed the guys that I would be moving back East, we thought it might be a good idea to try it here. I held the first East Coast event in Philadelphia last Fall and it was a huge success with 400 riders. The reception from Philly was awesome. It was cool to see, considering I graduated from La Salle University and a bunch of my friends came out for the ride. I've always had an entrepreneurial side, and thought this would be a cool business venture as well.
HubBub: Do you live in Philly now...or where are you based?
Sam: Upon coming back to the East Coast I landed a job in Washington DC, so I decided to hold and event in Baltimore - another big success. I recently decided to leave that position and take a new position in Philadelphia. So, I will be in Philadelphia full time for this upcoming event, which should be awesome.
HubBub: So, what's the best part about a big group of people riding together (versus riding solo or in a small group?)
Sam: The best part is the atmosphere. It feels so cool being a part of something big. It's like asking the question: Would you rather dance alone in your room, or go to a club and dance with hundreds of other people? Even though the action is the same, the excitement is on an entirely different level. At the post-ride party, we have live music, prizes, food trucks, etc. that make for a fun environment on a Sunday afternoon.
HubBub: How do you pick the bars where the rides stop? Personal preference or other factors?
Sam: Both. I obviously love going to all of the places that we work with, but it also has to make sense location-wise. We try to space out the stops so they are roughly 3-4 miles apart from one another. We don't want people stopping for a drink, then stopping again five minutes later. We try to make the ride a cycling event with beer tastings along the way. But I do love the food and beer at all the locations we're working with in Philly!
HubBub: What makes Philly a fun bike riding city? Are there any particular ride routes you like best?
Sam: I think Philly is one of the best cycling cities in the country. The streets are very wide with ample bike lanes. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is doing a great job making this an amazing cycling city. We donate a portion of the proceeds from the event to a local cycling advocacy group for that exact reason. My favorite ride is the new Schuylkill river trail or Kelly Drive - it's pretty cool to be riding right along side the river!
HubBub: Any tips for people thinking about going on upcoming Beers & Bikes ride?
Sam: I would say to be ready to have a great time. Be sure to bring a helmet (safety first!) and a valid form of ID to insure that you will be served. Our events are not a "bar crawl" so we ask that people do not pre-game the event or anything like that. We want to make sure everyone is safe, but also has a great time. Also, feel free to dress up in your favorite Philadelphia pride attire, or something crazy, like a superhero costume. It's close to Halloween, so I'm sure people will be dressing up! We will have a photographer on hand as well!
HubBub: Great! One more thing: why do cyclists seem to love coffee (and beer) so much?
Sam: Only cyclists? Don't all people love coffee? Haha. I think that cyclists love coffee because of the delicious taste, as well as the caffeine jolt that it offers before or after a long ride. Being a Registered Dietitian, I have read many studies on human performance and how caffeine is proven to improve physical performance during physical activity. They love beer because, again, its a great way to relax after a long ride. Cycling is often done in a community setting, so it only makes sense to gather with friends after a ride and enjoy a nice cold brew.
Thanks Sam! We're really excited to be part of this great event, which combines so many things that we love. And we hope to see some of you there, too!