Tag Archives: beer

San Francisco – An Alternative Touristy Ride

There are at least a half dozen bike rental and bike tour outlets along the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.  All of them offer guided and/or self-guided trips along the bay, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down into Sausalito, with a ferry ride back to the city.  If you’ve never been to San Francisco, it’s not a bad choice.  Except that Sausalito is pretty touristy.

Maritime Park

I was in San Francisco recently, primarily to check out the East Bay Punk History Rock Bike Tour.  I’ve always wanted to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge.  But, having been to Sausalito ONCE, I didn’t really want to do that again,  Plus, there are other ways to ferry around the bay (tip, check out downtown Oakland or Alameda).

So, do ride the touristy San Francisco side (especially if it’s your first time in the city).  And do ride across the Golden Gate bridge. But, then, come back and take in another side of San Francisco.

Fort Mason

Here’s how this ride breaks down:

  • Embarcadero to the Golden Gate Bridge, passing through all of the most touristed areas, including  the Exploratorium, Pier 39 (don’t miss the sea lions!), Fisherman’s Wharf, the USS Pampanito and SS Jeremiah O’Brien, the Maritime National Historic Park,  views of Alcatraz, Fort Mason, and Crissy Fields.  Finally climb up to and on the Golden Gate Bridge.  Approx. 6.5 miles.  Consider which side of the bridge to ride.
West Sidewalk – Golden Gate Bridge

 

The Presidio

 

  • SOMA back to the Ferry Building.  The mapped route is pretty direct back to the Ferry Building, but this area is dead flat and pretty bike friendly.  If you’re interested in craft beer, there are several brewpubs noted on the map.  Approx. 3.5 to 5 miles depending on detours.

Need a bike?  You can’t walk 50 feet along the bay without running into bike rentals.  But consider treating yourself to an upgrade from Golden Gate Rides, Bike Hut, or Dandyhorse.  Tell ’em BeenThereBikeTours sent you.

Have fun!

Bike to Beers in San Antonio

Blue Star Bicycling
Blue Star Bicycling

We spent an afternoon in San Antonio earlier this year, riding the Mission Reach Trail.  Looks like it’s time to return to check out SA Current‘s suggested bike tour of local brews.  It’s a DIY ride visiting six breweries in about six miles.  That’s a brewery PER mile, so take your time and enjoy some food at the outset and maybe again at Blue Star.  The author also suggests taking a short detour to enjoy the view of downtown SA from the nearby Hays Street Bridge.

Since this is a DIY ride, you’ll need a bike.  If you don’t have one, we suggest B-Cycle’s bike share.  Better yet, why not rent a bike at Blue Star Bicycling Company, conveniently located next to the third stop at Blue Star?  Start the tour in the middle and cycle both ways — that’ll add a few more miles to the beer/mile ratio!

You’ll also need a map.  For now, here’s a Google Map to try.  We’ll get busy on getting back to the Alamo City and riding this in person.

The Grand Strand in Dallas Land (Part 2)

Old 97s County Fair - Photo: BackAmp Research
Old 97s County Fair

(Part 1)

In the afternoon, we took a little break from the show and I set out again to explore a bit beyond the Trinity Strand Trail.  First stop, though, was the now open Noble Rey Brewing. After a quick pint of bike fuel, I rode a short distance on the trail to Sylvan Avenue.  One block south is the new Sylvan Avenue Bridge featuring an elevated, six lane bridge with two six foot sidewalks on either shoulder. The ramp from the roadway down to the floodway, will allow both vehicular and pedestrian access to Trammell Crow Park and its soccer fields and pond.”

Each side of the massive bridge has both a dedicated sidewalk as well as a bike lane.

Sylvan Ave Bridge

And, most notably, very few cars.  I continued on down the “Floodway Access Ramp” to the aptly named Trinity Skyline Trail:

In spite of the view, however, the trail runs along the Trinity River basin.  I was planning to ride to the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.  However, once I arrived and was looking up at the bridge, I discovered that there is no connection between them.  This, in spite of the bridge’s webpage that encourages: “We hope you will walk or bike by using the City trail system including the Trinity Skyline Trail!.”  In fact, there’s no way out of the river basin here.  It appears that the next street access is at W. Commerce.  However, time was short and I portaged my bike up and over a giant flood berm and through an already trodden down chainlink fence to reach the bridge.

The northeast half of the bridge was actively being set up for some event, with tents, tables/chairs, and people actively stocking bars.  I rode slowly through the commotion expecting to be ejected at any point.  Once I reached the temporary fence, I encountered a security guy:

Me: “You aren’t going to let me through this gate, are you?”

                   S.G: “Sure I will.  But I won’t let you back.  Those guys should never have let you get this far.”

Me: “OK”

And on I rode to discover:

And not just one Quinceañera, but at least a half dozen.  The lesson here is that the bridge is pretty much about pedestrians and lots of activities (their webpage has tons of activities…Yoga on a bridge, sure, why not?)  Anyhow, it’s a nice bridge with a great view, but I wouldn’t always count on being able to cycle across it.

Climbing berms, crashing parties, and Quinceañeras all tend to make me thirsty.  Happily, I was only two blocks from Four Corners Brewing Company.

After a quick stop for an IPA and a couple of handfuls of peanuts, I started the return ride.  In spite of the somewhat circuitous route so far, the Sylvan Avenue Bridge was only a few blocks to the north.

It was a quick ride over the largely deserted bridge to the Trinity Strand Trail and back to the hotel.

As a postscript, it turns out that this area, just west of downtown, is also home to two more breweries, Peticolas Brewing Company and the aforementioned Community Beer Company.  Stay tuned for an upcoming post about a DIY bike/brewery tour and why some clever entrepreneur should jump on this idea.

 

The Grand Strand in Dallas Land (Part 1)

A couple of weekends ago, we loaded the BTBT staff car and decamped for a couple of days in Big D.  The Old 97’s County Fair was the primary destination, but I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to explore a bit of Dallas bike infrastructure.

We stayed in the Market Center area, right on I-35 west of downtown and just a couple of blocks from the Trinity Strand Trail.  Other than having mapped a possible ride to the show in downtown Dallas, I hadn’t done any research about the area.  Taking a quick exploratory ride on Saturday morning, I stumbled into Noble Rey Brewing at the west end of the trail (seen at the right side of the photo):

Hmm, that was unexpected, although I was aware that Community Beer Company is not far away.  I continued onto the trail and quickly discovered murals:

Beyond the murals, some funky eateries, and a few bridges and access points, the trail cuts through the up and coming Dallas Design District area.  I continued on to the eastern trail head at Stemmons and Oak Lawn.  A connection here to the Katy Trail is under development.

Eastern Trailhead

This initial 2.5 miles of the Trinity Strand Trail opened last fall with another 5+ miles planned.  There is already a viable cycling connection to the Trinity Skyline Trail (more on this in Part 2).

For a beautiful Saturday morning, the trail was remarkably empty.  For a ride lasting about 40 minutes, I didn’t see more than a couple of bicycles and a half dozen walkers/runners.  That’s a shame, it’s a wonderful piece of bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, with wide concrete swathes, bridges, and even emergency signage.  The trail is relatively new, and will be expanded to at least 7.5 miles

Next — Check out Part 2 of The Grand Strand in Dallas Land.

On A Mission

San Antonio has recently completed major upgrades and extensions to the original downtown Riverwalk which is very much focused on food and fun.  The Eagleland segment extends the pedestrian portion of the Riverwalk to the Blue Star Complex.  The Mission Reach Trail starts here and provides cyclists and walkers access to four historic missions, recreational facilities, picnic tables, and views of river wildlife in a semi-urban setting.  North of downtown, the Museum Reach Trail is nearing completion for access to several museums and the zoo.

I rode from the Blue Star Complex to the southern end of the Mission Trail and back on a perfect February afternoon in Texas.  In addition to visiting all of the well cared for missions, I spotted a pair of golden eagles, numerous turtles, ducks and other water fowl as well as a large snake.

 

Blue Star Bicycling
Blue Star Bicycling

Although I brought my bike from Austin, there are B-Cycle stations located at all of the missions as well as many of the road intersections.  B-Cycle would be ideal for short rides between two or three missions.  But the bikes are fairly heavy and the trail was hillier than expected.  If you intend on riding the full length, consider renting a bike from Blue Star Bicycling Company located in the Blue Star Complex at the north end of the trail.  From there, if you visit all four missions, plan on riding about 22 miles.

Of course, you don’t have to ride the entire length.  The trail is well marked and has frequent picnic tables, shelters, and water fountains, as well as easy access to local businesses.  Lingering at the missions and parks, you could easily make a day of it or just spend a couple of hours riding out and back.  Or just ride a few miles and enjoy this treasure that San Antonio has provided us.

Finally, after your ride, you might like to enjoy one of San Antonio’s oldest brewpubs, Blue Star Brewing Company:

The Blue Star Brewing Company was one of the first brewpubs in San Antonio that has been serving their uniquely brewed beer and food since 1996. Shortly after opening The Blue Star Brewing Company, owner Joey Villarreal and his wife Magdalena opened the Blue Star Bike Shop within the walls of the amazing brewery, and later moved to its very own location right next door. The Blue Star Brewing Company offers organic brew and a selection of locally sourced food, The Blue Star Brewing Company is the place to relax and enjoy a well crafted meal before or after an adventurous bike ride on the trails.

Tell them Been There Bike Tours sent you!

e place to relax and enjoy a well crafted meal before or after an adventures bike ride on the trails.

Miami Art Crawl: Street Art by Bike

Photo by Phillip Pessar
Photo by Phillip Pessar

This Saturday (Jan 30, 2016), Miami’s Pérez Art Museum is sponsoring a guided bike tour of murals in the Wynwood arts district, led by two of the artists.  Post ride drinks are planned at the Concrete Beach Brewery.  While many city bike tour providers cater to visitors, one-off city bike tours are a wonderful way to engage the local community.  I’d love to participate in this upcoming ride except for three little problems:

  1. I’m cheap.  The ride itself is only $30, but it’s only for PAMM Contemporaries.   ($200 annual single membership)
  2. I’m old.  PAMM Contemporaries must be between ages 21 to 41
  3. I’m too far away

But hey, if you’re young and can afford to be a PAMM Contemporary, I hope you can make what looks like a great ride.  Drop us a line if you go!  Otherwise, here’s a peak at some of the murals: http://www.brian-curtis.com/um_webpage/ART%20202-301/mfa_wynwood.html, courtesy of the University of Miami.

Photo by EL Gringo
Photo by EL Gringo

 

About Bikabout

We’ve been noticing Bikabout for a few months now and really like what they’re doing.  In a nutshell, they provide suggested city rides (many provided by local “Ambassadors”), lodging, bike rental directories, and transport information (with and without bikes).

Bikabout thinks:

…the best way to see any city is on a bike…Seeing a city by bike combines all of the freedom of walking with the range and speed of mass transit. Seeing a city by bike stacks the cosmic deck of unintended happy consequences in your favor by letting you interact with your environment instead of watching it go by out a window. You meet people. You discover…

and BeenThereBikeTours couldn’t agree more!

Our database listings include both commercial city bike tour operators as well as self-guided tours.  We’ve updated our North America database to include links to several of the Bikabout self-guided tours, focusing on single day tours within a particular city.  We wish Bikabout the best of luck and look forward to more cities coming online!

Oh, and many of their tours involve beer and breweries!  We like that too.

orange_hair

 

Munich Solo Ride

Who would have guessed that I’d return to Munich for Oktoberfest for the second year in a row?  Last year, we took and enjoyed Mike’s Bike Tour (review).  Lenny’s was a possible option for this year but the route looked pretty similar to Mikes.  My one free day was forecast for showers and rain all day.  After being turned away from Mike’s new rental office (the weather forecast was not good, happily it was also wrong), I quickly rented a bike from the original location and set off on my own tour.  Munich has an emerging craft beer scene that could warrant a tour of its own and I wanted to visit at least a couple of small breweries.

Giesinger GlassRiding south out of the Altstadt, the first stop was to be Brauerei im Eiswerk. It was easy to find but sadly not open until 17:00.  Next up was Giesinger Bräu.  Armed with both a printed map and GPS, the brewery was tough to find.  A friendly Frau sensed my uncertainty.  After a mishmash of English, German, finger pointing, and head nodding, I set off up the only hill for miles around.  And found Giesinger at the top, next to the all important “kirche” (church) landmark.

Following a couple of beers and a very tasty smoked fish salad, I headed back downhill and rode  towards the Oktoberfest “Wiesen” grounds.   The map showed the most direct route was via the busy Humboldtstraße.  As I looked for a suitable side street to avoid traffic, I crossed Humboldtstraße and discovered generous bike lanes and no need for taking the back roads.  Munich’s reputation as a bike friendly city is well deserved.

OktoberfestI rode around the exterior of the Oktoberfest grounds to get a better sense for the scope of the festival and took some photos from the Bavariapark hill on the west side.  I continued a short distance west through Bavariapark, the mostly empty Wirtshaus am Bavariapark beer garden, and the Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum  and stopped at at the Endless Staircase in front of the KPMG building to get a shot of this stairway to nowhere….or is it art?

Endless Staircase
Endless Staircase

Front entranceFrom here, I rode north and east to the main pedestrian entrance to Oktoberfest.  Many visitors, including my group, arrive via the U-Bahn and miss the photo opportunity at the walking entrance.

Continuing east, I rode past the Hauptbahnhof, numerous Trachten (Germanwear) shops, and a constant flow of Lederhosen and Dirndl clad revelers headed to the festival.

Finally, I rode into the Altstadt, stopped for an obligatory selfie with the wild boar in front of the German Hunting and Fishing Museum and worked my way back to Mikes.

Rub His Nose for Good Luck!
Rub His Nose for Good Luck!

Here’s the map:


The route is about 10 miles; it took me about four hours, with frequent stops for photos and lunch.

A couple of notes if you decide to take a similar ride:

  • The Thereisenwiese grounds are home to Oktoberfest as well as a few other festivals.  Depending on the time of your visit, there may be nothing there to see.
  • If I rode this again, I’d continue up the hill past Brauerei im Eiswerk and look for the bike paths that appear to connect more directly to the Giesinger area.  But do ride down using the route shown through the woods.
  • Another fun alternative would be to ride from Mike’s across either the Maxilimilian or Ludwigsbrücke bridge and visit one of the beer gardens shown on the east bank of the Isar River.  Or go the other way around and end your ride there.
  • There’s nothing magic about the route I took through the Altstadt and there are places on the pedestrian malls where bikes must be walked.
  • Finally…..if you haven’t taken one of other Munich bike tours…do that BEFORE you venture out on your own.
  • Have fun!

Confederacy of Cruisers – Cocktails in New Orleans Bike Tour

A few months after our Creole Tour we returned to New Orleans for a staff birthday party featuring (among other merriment), Confederacy of Cruisers’ Cocktails in New Orleans Tour.  Our group of six was led by the inestimable Lara, who arrived a few moments late, pedaling fast, fresh from being released from jury duty.  A relieved Jeff had been prepared to lead us and we ended up with the good fortune of having not one, but two, tour leaders.  Lara also tends bar at the Marigny’s R Bar and knows her stuff.

This tour rides spends much of its time riding in the French Quarter and CofC suggests “This tour is recommended to advanced riders.  Through much of this tour we will be sharing old, narrow city streets with motor vehicles and high volume pedestrian traffic, so an appropriate skill level is important to your ability to comfortably enjoy this tour.”   Definitely good advice, but our group was mostly anything but advanced and we had no problems, other than perhaps a spilt cocktail or two.

The ride kicked off with a fresh, classic Daiquiri (non-frozen) supplied by CofC.  Public drinking is, of course, completely legal in New Orleans.  Our Daiquiris went into our bike mounted drink holders and we pedaled off for the Napoleon House for their famous Pimm’s Cup. We’d incidentally just visited the night before, but that didn’t deter our enjoyment and Lara and Jeff added historical tidbits.

We next pedaled through the Quarter to the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel, located just at the edge of the CBD.  Our cocktail choices at the Roosevelt was the Sazerac itself, or a Ramos Gin FizzPro tip: Split your orders up and try them both.  The Sazerac Bar itself is plush, elegant, and historic.  You can only imagine the politics, intrigue, and tête-à-têtes here over the years.

The Erin Rose Bar on Conti was next.  The Erin Rose is somewhat of a local’s bar, although only a half block from Bourbon Street.  They’re only open 21 hours per day, so if you visit on your own, plan accordingly.  Drinks of choice here were Bloody Marys (secret recipe), traditional hot Irish coffees, and their famous Frozen Irish Coffee.  After our grueling ride (not) from the Roosevelt, our group mostly went with the Frozen Irish coffee.

The final bar stop was at Finnegan’s Easy for mostly beers, mostly Abita, and mostly to go.  The group rode on with beers in hand/drink holder past the French Market and checked out the Mississippi River from atop the levee before returning to the shop:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lara and Jeff certainly regaled us with more history and perhaps stories of how rum was once transported up the river to the city of New Orleans.  This review is being written three years after our tour and details may be a bit fuzzy.  But the memories are nothing but fun and a good time had by all.  Highly recommended!   rate4bikes