The Cycling Cicerone Rides Out
I figure before I get too deep into this, someone ought to explain to y'all just what a Cycling Cicerone is. The Cycling Cicerone, that's me, seeks out the best bike paths for drinking beer all around the Pacific Northwest. I've found that drinking beer and riding your bike in the sun make a great combo, so that's what I've set out to share by reviewing breweries and bike paths together. What's a Cicerone, who are you, why would you ride a bike when cars exist, you sound like a crazy person and so forth. Let's get it all out there: let's go back to the beginning....
The Cycling Cicerone owes it's origin to the city of Seattle. Why? Is it because they have a ton of bike paths that provide easy access to breweries? No. It's because they have borderline criminally lax laws about riding your bike while drunk. RCW 46.61.790 - the good stuff. The law basically says that the Seattle Police can impound your bike, which you can pick up later for free, and give you a free ride home if you are being a menace to society as a result of intoxicated bike riding. Basically it's the cyclists equivalent of cops handing out free Doritos at Hemp Fest. With laws like this, who needs freedom?
Before I go any further, let me clarify: I am not condoning the riding of bicycles while intoxicated. Pacing yourself is important while riding, even more important while drinking, and doubly important while doing both in quick succession. Nor am I a lawyer. I read that rule and see "oh man the law is pretty chill up here" and not "well if you check this other thing, penal code HA 80.08.135, you'll find that the penalties for blah blah blah." Don't play it fast and loose with the law. Don't ride drunk! Pace yourself, use lights, learn the rules of the road, wear a helmet, and if you get in trouble, you don't know me. The good news here is that if you don't listen to me and decide to ride while you should be using the training wheels known as sobriety, the stakes are a lot lower than driving a car. Mostly likely you'll just end up colliding with a lousy pedestrian***, and I trust you won't have to get the Cycling Cicerone involved in that one. The other possible consequences of sharing a road with cars while intoxicated need not be mentioned.
Why ride a bike, though? Seattle is a city where it is very easy to not own a car, even for someone like me who lives nowhere near downtown. There are bike paths everywhere and where there aren't bike paths, there are bike lanes. As one of those people who does not own a car. it only took me a few three mile and ten dollar Uber rides to the Ballard Brewery district before I realized that I could ride my bike all the way there from the safety of the no-cars-allowed Burke Gilman trail faster and freer than calling a ride. I'm not one for meditation, but there is something to be said for the zen-like state that arises from the rhythm of the pedals when you have the perfect buzz. You start riding and next thing you know you are somewhere twenty miles away as a better person with a clear mind and quads of granite. I highly recommend it. If you are one of those people who don't own a bike, go on craigslist right now and buy one for $100. I'll wait, Taylor.
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to rent a bike and see the sights. For me, that means breweries. It's a great way to get a feel for local flavor without ever stepping out of sight of alcohol. Breweries are everywhere and they all uniquely represent their region and have fascinating origins. However, finding a brewery that fits your style isn't as easy as looking it up on Yelp. How can you tell the difference between the brewpub you'd suggest to your boss so you can score some sweet, free corporate lunch and the one you'd take your new boyfriend out on a date to because Mumford and Sons lights are romantic AF? I swear, Yelp, if you tell me Gordon Biersch is a brewery one more time, I am going to throw my iPhone into a ravine.
All that difficulty doesn’t even account for getting there. Bike rides are real joy so long as you know where you are going and have reasonable faith in your directions, but Google Maps is super racist against bikes. I can't tell you how many times I've ridden halfway to somewhere on a crowded road only to find that my map had neglected to mention a parallel bike path two streets over just because it was two minutes slower. Finding a good bike route means knowing when you can ride around a hill rather than over it. I swear, Google, if you tell me I have to go up that hill just to come back down it again on the other side one more time, I am going to throw my iPhone into a ravine.
That’s where the Cycling Cicerone comes in. Do you like leisurely rides between big brunch-y brewpubs, or do you like harrowing mountain roads connecting cinder block tasting rooms? I'm on the lookout for every bike and brew route and I won't stop until I've found them all!
But what is a Cicerone, you find yourself wondering yet again. A Cicerone is a Sommelier but for beer. It takes months of drinking (a real chore), studying, brewing, and more drinking all followed up with an extensive exam. Not to brag, but I am indeed one of those guys. A Certified Beer Nerd. That doesn’t actually make me qualified to tell you what beer to like or even what is good, but that combined with my obsession with finding new breweries, I think, does qualify me to write about it. I promise I won't bludgeon you over the head with beer jargon. This is a brewery blog, not a beer blog, so I won't be reviewing individual beers. That's what Untappd is for (btw, follow me on Untappd). I hope you enjoy discovering beer with me while ride out in search of new routes and brews! Let's hit the trail!
Please follow @intriguebrewing on Instagram, Twitter and on Facebook! I sometimes give away free swag. Keep an eye out for my bike with the flag on it if you are in Seattle, and follow it to beer! Thanks for reading. Like if you do! What are your favorite bike and brew routes that I need to see? Comment below!
***Yeah pedestrians, I'm coming after you. How do you live life going so slowly? I insist you buy a bike, Taylor.