Highlights of 2018 - Gear and Trips

This time of year you see 10 best, 12 best gifts for every person or thing you can think of. I very much enjoy reading about peoples favorite beers, cycling gear places to holiday and adventures they have had. I started thinking that potentially a Beer & Bike highlight list would be fun to put together.

Beer & Bike Gear and Trips Highlights - 2018


Favorite piece of cycling kit - Lake MX 145 boots

I picked up this pair of Lake shoes to protect my feet from the elements while cycling in the winter. They have turned into my favorite piece of kit. They keep my feet dry and for the most part warm even when cycling in freezing temps and solid downpours.

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Favorite cycling tour from 2018 - Portugal

In 2018 we launched our first Portugal trips. It was my first experience cycling there. I instantly fell in love with the country and the cycling. Cycling along the ocean and to the edge of Europe was amazing and the food is so good. I am looking forward to doing this ride again in the spring.

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Most used piece of Emergency kit - Super Glue

Super glue is one of the newer items I always carry while guiding and touring. It is great for everything from emergency first aid for cuts to repairing tubeless tires and other broken bike bits. Just make sure you put the cap on all the way. I also prefer the gel type when available.

Brewery I am most excited to visit again - Hof Ten Dormaal

Visiting with Dries and his family at Hof Ten Dormaal is one of the highlights of my season of cycling in Belgium. The lovely sour beer brewed here is wonderful and the farm setting compliments so well. With hops grown on site and even a pet goat this place is special.

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Favorite Tour moment - World Cup in Belgium

I love sports and especially the fun of watching iconic events with the locals. This July we had a group cycling in Belgium. We were able to watch the matches in town squares and small cafes. It was amazing. A special thanks to Jose from the Huyghe Brewery for the ride to town when the bus was late.

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Best Board of Directors ride - Swiss Climb

The toughest climb of the year for Suzy and Leopold was at the end of our third day cycling around Lake Constance in Switzerland. The climb reached points of 13% gradient and was about 2.5 miles long. Suzy rocked her way up and I hooked up a rope Between Leo and I to give him a little extra help.


Beer I am most excited to have again in 2019

Could not name just one so here are a couple. Picnic Rock Pale Ale from Horse & Dragon Brewing and St Lupulin from the Odell Brewing company. Spending the winter in Germany has made me miss a good American style pale ale.


Best new piece of bikepacking gear - GSI Ultralight Java Drip

Camp coffee is normally something that takes up a fair bit of space to get right. While the GSI filter does not a perfect espresso it is small lightweight and simple and makes a nice cup of drip coffee. The whole thing folds down and fits in the bottom of a fuel can.

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Best sportive/charity ride in 2018 - Ronde Van Vlaanderen Cyclo

Riding the same route as the pros the Tour of Flanders cyclo is an amazing ride. A close second was the MS 150 in Minnesota.


Best gift to give your cycling friends and family…Beer & Bike Gift Card

Ok this is a shameless plug. Give yourself, family and friends the gift of adventure with a Beer & Bike Tour or gift certificate.

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Board of Directors Cycling Holiday

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Over the past couple weeks the Board of Directors was on a two week school holiday. Katy, The crew and I hopped on our bikes and wandered. Our travels took us on a camping, visiting new friends and cities.

Our first stop along the way was the city of Bamberg for a taste of quality German Rauchbier. A short train ride and cycle to our campsite we picked up a couple beers to enjoy while setting camp and watching the sunset. Few things are as calm as a simple camp meal and pint of beer with family.

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Bamberg is a beautiful. It is home to the the largest maltster in the world. Weyermann Malt. Some of you have visited our good friends at Troubadour in Fort Collins so you understand our love and respect for Malt. It was interesting to see on such a grand scale. One of the similarities I found that made me happy was that Weyermann is in a local barley growing area and supplies a huge local craft beer scene. The local beers and breweries were welcoming and full of fun.

After a couple cold nights of camping with ice on the tents we hopped on a trail to Lindau for our main objective for the holiday, Lake Constance/Bodensee. At the end of October in Bavaria it starts to get cold in the evening and the tourism around the lake. we opted to stay at a mix of campgrounds, warm shower hosts and a hotel. Upon arrival and viewing of the lake Suzy suddenly looked very nervous. I do not think she thought the lake would be as big as it was. After a short ride to our campsite and a mix of hot chocolate for the Board and beers for Katy and I we set to sleep to rest for the start of our ride in the morning.

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The best thing about a bike adventure for me is always the ride. As a guide and also a parent it was a blast to share each day with the kids and exploring as we rode. Each day around the lake had a variety of cool experiences from small cafes, apple orchards and vineyards to stunning views of mountains and water. Unlike a supported adventure the we opted self support and carry our own gear and equipment. The kids were each responsible for carrying their own sleeping kit and clothing with occasional food and a ten for them to share. Katy and I carried everything else.

While the goal was to circumnavigate the lake we also wanted to visit Liechtenstein as it was a country none of us had been to yet, and one that as a crew we could cycle across in an afternoon.

After our second day on the lake we turned south to ride up the the alpine country. This night we stayed with a host from Warm showers at their home on the top of the biggest hill the kids have ever climbed. Leopold, 9 years old, struggled a bit at the bottom so we tied a rope to the front of his bike to mine and I helped him a bit with a pull. This was something I have honestly always wanted to try. Wow was it hard. Suzy’s normal happy go lucky style turned into a bit of anger but she used it to ride the whole climb on her own. Super proud of both of them. From Briggetta and Mark’s home we could se more, but not all of the lake and that was awesome.

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The following day we entered Liechtenstein and had lunch and a pint of beer to celebrate a new country visited. The same hill the kids rode up the day before in about 50 minutes took 11 fun minutes to ride down. After another evening of great hosts we cycled back from Switzerland through Liechtenstein and Austria back to Switzerland to camp for the evening after the kids longest day on a bicycle. 55 miles and over 1,000 feet in elevation later we camped and laughed for the evening.

Waking up to rain the kids showed great resolve and embraced rule # 9 and rode to Konstanz for a nice break for the night. On theme we opted to stay at the budget hotel chain B&B Hotels. The rooms were great and they had a simple nice breakfast which fueled us for the next days rainy ride around the lake. Crossing back through Switzerland we finished with another Warm Shower host in Germany and celebrated with our new friends and slept warm and cozy inside.

The final push was oddly the day with the most elevation gain. Just as we rolled in to Friedrichshafen we were welcomed with a bit of rain but our ride was finished so we smiled and celebrated of Pizza and a beer before taking the train toward home.

All and all the most important thing we learned from the trip was that flexibility and the calm speed of traveling a bike really is the best way to connect and explore new places. If you are interested in cycling Lake Constance I would definitely recommend the off season as a time to go. Everyone we talked to described the peak season as so busy it was hard to cycle. Other than camping options being limited the off season was wonderful and everyone was really nice and helpful. Where was your last adventure? Cheers, Bob

Lessons for Americans about biking in Europe

Katy and the Board of Directors

Katy and the Board of Directors

We do not own a car. We are American. We have 2 kids age 9 and 12. How do we get from place to place? What is the weather is bad? What if there is not a train or a bus going to our destination?

My family and I have been bicycling in Berlin for 15 months. We bike in the sun, the rain, the snow, the daylight and the nighttime. We bike to school, to the lake, in the forest, to the train station, to playgrounds and to the store. I actually feel so liberated not owning a car as it forces me to look around, simplify what I really need and what is worth carrying in my panniers or backpack and be creative with my own locomotion.

I actually really prefer to walk but I do not always have the time to walk from place to place so my bicycle is the next best option. After bicycling Berlin for 15 months I am also aware of so many areas of Berlin which are not accessible by car and I love exploring these short-cuts and beautiful parks and forests and bicycle trails. In many ways I often feel like a little kid out and exploring my neighborhood but then I realize I am 42 and I smile because I realize that I don’t have to give up that “exploring feeling” that I loved as a kid. The other benefit of bicycling everywhere is that I feel like I am actually doing something to improve the air quality of our planet.

I am taking one less car off the road, sometimes 2 because in the States sometimes we have to drive 2 cars depending on our plans. It is empowering to feel that you are really doing something, as opposed to just wanting to do something. Riding a bike is really quite simple and in Berlin you see every color, shape and size of bicycles and people riding bicycles. I personally love to see the German man in his fashionable suit and fancy panniers riding along because you would never see that in Colorado. I love seeing the very old woman moving so slowly on her bike with her groceries or flowers in her basket as she can still appreciate the value of getting around on a bicycle. I love seeing the tiny toddlers on their new “push bikes” and little helmets and all their rain gear. They are so cute and it makes me smile to see this future cyclist in training.

The best thing about bicycling around Berlin is that our kids are seeing you can live a rich, full life full of adventures without owning a car. This is really hard for an American child to see in America because our infrastructure and transportation is not set up this way at all. My kids will always know that they do not need a car and that their 2 wheels and 2 feet can power them wherever they want to go no matter how long it takes to get there.

Katy Williams