If you happen to be in Portland, Oregon and wandering the streets around the Pearl District, chances are you’ve probably seen this pass by and laughed in amusement wondering: What is that? Where it’s going? How do I go along for a ride?
This is the Brewcycle, a 15-person bicycle operated and owned by Brewcycleportland. The brain child behind this operation is Andrea(pronounced Andre-yeah). I ran into her when her brewcycle was parked outside a brewery along her route. When you see this odd, cool looking contraption, you can’t help but to take a closer look and so I did.
After conversing for sometime about the details of her business and Brewcycle, I knew I had to go for a ride and share my thoughts, unfortunately, she was all booked up for the day and evening. However, she mentioned she might have some cancellation for her 6 pm slot. I took her business card and sent her text confirming any availability. Luck held out and she had an opening.
The basic operation of the bicycle is simple: the cumulative effort of each individual pedaling propels the cycle into motion. There’s a driver sitting in the middle who enthusiastically steers the cycle to different breweries in the Pearl District.
At each brewery, we were given about a half hour to sample some of the brews. I have to admit this was a novel approach to transporting people in one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the nation.
GETTING STARTED IN THE BREWCYCLE
- Playing the Name game – Since there were several different groups on this Brewcycle party, she started the show off by having everyone say their name and place of birth. This is a great way of opening up conversation with other groups on the Brewcycle during the brewery stops.
- Rules – She explained her rules, well actually, she only has one rule and that’s don’t jump off. If something falls off, she can stop the cycle cruising along at an average speed of 4.5 miles. She told me, once she got it up to 8.7 mph, downhill, tail wind.
- Stereo System – If you have an Ipod or a CD bring it. This baby comes complete with a built in stereo to rock out while you’re cycling along the streets of Portland.
I think it was the “holy shit this contraption is moving” that smacked a laughter and smile on my face. Even when were cruising down the streets, everyone passing by had a little chuckle on their face seeing this in motion. I’d probably honk and wave too if I saw this thing cruise past me.
The effect is even more so when we were making the turn into the parking lot at the first brewery. Nearly everyone turned their heads in amusement, it kind of says, “hey man, the cool kids have just arrived.”
There were some slight up hills parts along the routes, nothing terribly difficult. I just had to put it out there for anyone wondering how strenuous the route is. The pedaling between the brewery stops isn’t terribly long. Besides, it’s a great way to burn some calories between beers.
Like with seats on an airplane, there are some preferred seats on this 15-person cycle. They’re 6 bicycle seats on each side of the Brewcyle and a 3-person bench seat in the rear. The bicycle seats located over the axle on each side don’t have any pedals neither does the bench seat in the back. So, if you want to be the free loader, these are the seats you want.
Fishing and beer, bowling and beer, they all go hand-in-hand, you can’t have one without the other. Brewcycleportland does a fantastic job of taking two seemingly unrelated items, beer and cycling to create one fun experience.
Andrea’s been in business for just about a year and her story is inspirational: she quit her corporate job and the structure that came with it, relocated to Portland because it was the intersection of the most bike friendly city and breweries per capita, making it a prime place to start her business. Based on her enthusiasm, I’m venturing to guess, she’s enjoying this a wee bit more than her old job.
If you’re looking for an amusing way to tour some breweries in Portland style or want to hear her story yourself, definitely book a ride. I’m not getting paid to write this, it was just pure coincidence that I ran into Andrea and was given a chance to ride along.
They plan on getting a smaller 8-10 person Brewcycle, making it more manageable on the up hills. This will allow them to visit other breweries that they’re unable to pedal to with the 15-person Brewcycle. When I’m back in town, I definitely plan on trying out the new wheels.