My site name does say “pedals,” doesn’t it? I suppose I should write about some of the pedalling activity I do. Believe it or not, I do like to pedal.
I’ve always considered myself a hard-core rail trail rider. I would like to ride a rail trail, or at least a multi-use bike trail, in every state. Is it possible? I’ve always felt that rail trail riding is safer, meditative, easier, and sometimes, depending on the location, more beautiful. My partner, Al, really likes road riding. He likes joining bicycle clubs and going to club rides and signing up for events for supported rides. I can see why he likes it, and I’ll occasionally go along.
In April 2017, we signed up for “Bikes and Beers Frederick.” The event was hosted and sponsored by Flying Dog Brewery and Bike Maryland. This ride was of particular interest to me, because once I looked at the route, I saw that it would be going directly through the neighborhood I grew up in, but have nary visited in 21 years. My parents moved away from it as soon as I left for college, and post-leaving, Frederick grew and changed in nearly unrecognizable ways. So I was up for this adventure, mostly because I wanted to ride through my old hood.
The ride was about 31 miles through the outskirts of Frederick, leaving from the Flying Dog Brewery and meandering through fields and crossroads. The day was slightly overcast, which made for nice riding conditions.
I would estimate there were maybe 300 other cyclists doing the event. Old and young, hard-core cyclists and recreational cyclists, there were riders from every walk of life. Parking at the brewery was sufficient, as it was in a large office park with plenty of weekend spaces. The ride was well-supported with a snack and water stop at the midpoint. While the route wasn’t marked, cue sheets were distributed with precise directions to follow.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), events like this tend to draw a novice biker, one with really no sense of etiquette for road riding or riding around other people, and I definitely noted some bad behavior. Cyclists have every right to take the whole lane for safety reasons, but not on principle just because. There were a few cyclists who refused to yield to other cyclists, instead riding on the left near the road’s yellow line, making passing nearly impossible and also dangerous. On a steep hill, this meant that a lot of riders had to dismount their bikes because they couldn’t maintain momentum because of riders making it difficult to pass. Of course, this also pissed off a few drivers. Something else that bothers me on large group rides like this is when some riders choose to (correctly) obey traffic signals and stop signs, and some riders disregard them completely, riding up behind the people who have stopped at a stop sign and blowing through the intersection. Obeying of traffic rules only works when it’s collective. For example, if the rider in front of you has chosen to stop at a stop sign and let a car go, you are also obligated to stop. You should not make a different decision in this scenario because it’s not safe and it’s also confusing to the car driver. It just boggles my mind. I can see why drivers hate us, sometimes. It’s my hope that events like this can serve to educate riders about safety, not just around cars, but around other riders as well. A little mutual consideration and respect would go a long way.
Coming to the end of the ride, back at the brewery, every rider was entitled to two cans of delicious beer. There were several food trucks to choose from, and lots of places to sit on the brewery grounds. Overall, this event was very well planned and executed.
I see that there will be another Bikes and Beers event on June 24, this time in Baltimore with Union Craft Brewing. It makes me happy that this kind of riding seems to have become more appealing to all kinds of riders. I’m sure the “free” beer helps. Why is it, I wonder, that bikes, beer, and coffee all seem to go hand-in-hand? Well, it’s alright by me.