Until I moved to upstate New York, where the cold, dark winter totally decimated my physical activity level, most of my exercise was not jumping on a treadmill and getting the miles done. When I lived in Baton Rouge, exercise was riding my bike to work, jogging around the lakes, or going for a bike ride to various places to eat or drink. In Durango, exercise was a normal part of my life. All my activities involved physical exertion. The only reason I’d go to the gym was to be better at, and more thoroughly enjoy, the physical activities I was already doing.
When I lived in Portland, Oregon, I became very fond of the bar ride – that is, riding my bike to bars that are normally not in my neck of the woods. Because my friends and I were on bikes, we could cheaply visit bars all over town and drink a lot more booze than we normally would had we driven, and we could stay out later than if we relied on public transit.
This activity was closely related to the booze cruise, where we would pack large-format beers, ride to destinations, and drink in public/along the way. In Baton Rouge, the booze cruise was taken to another level with the daiquiri to-go shops. Nothing better than getting a 32-ounce daiquiri on your way home from work when it’s 95 degrees, and 95 percent humidity.
Durango didn’t have quite the same drinking and biking culture as Portland when I first moved there, but I found plenty of enjoyable rides with great drinking destinations. My favorite was riding from downtown to Machos North on Florida Road. The slightly uphill ride is short, has a nice bike lane all the way, and is a casual 3 miles from College and Main, making it a 6-mile round trip. Machos North also has a rad outdoor patio, with TVs and a cool water feature. On the way back, make sure and stop at J-Bo’s. Play some ping pong on the back patio, and you can stay late, as the bar is open til 2 a.m.
Another drinking ride I did a lot in Durango was to Ska Brewing. Partly because it was where I worked, but also because it was easy to find people to tag along with on the chill little 3-mile ride (it is one of those weird rides that somehow ends up being uphill both ways). The beer is also super cold, the beer garden is always filled with rad people when the weather is nice, and Ska has awesome pizza and sandwiches at The Container. This ride is also cool because you can easily make it a long ride by going down 160 (toward Hesperus), turning left on 141, then 210, which will connect you to the frontage road for Highway 550. This turns it into a 12.5-mile ride with almost 1,000 feet of elevation. I promise the beer is even colder after this ride.
Unfortunately, I never got into mountain biking in Durango (what a loser, right?), but that opens up the possibility for cold brewskis at the end of some great rides. It makes me beyond jealous seeing friends posting beers at the top of Telegraph. I’ve done the hike and it’s cool and all, but I bet doing a beer at the top, catching your breath, then tearing down the trail all the way back into town is better than just walking back.
I love riding my bike and love doing beers, and putting them together is my favorite thing, but you still have to be a responsible cyclist: Always have your lights, helmet, and always follow the traffic laws!
Robbie Wendeborn is the head brewer at Svendæle Brewing in Millerton, New York. He is also a former beer plumber at Ska Brewing.