|Our touring partners|
The short ride to the designated meeting location for the Grain and Grape Bike Tour gave Rachael and I a much needed opportunity to warm up our legs before we set to work on a yet unspecified route around the city. When we arrived, we speculated as to where the bike tour would take us as more bikers slowly gathered in the parking lot serving as our meeting point. As we waited, our group grew to around 10 people, which included a familiar face, Andres, who had helped me find the best beers on site during my previous "I have never..." event at the Great Taste of the Midwest. Happy to know the event was drawing some connoisseurs of beer, I asked the growing group about our possible routes through the city. While many were fast to say they had never experienced the event before, the few riders that had provided some insight regarding our likely path as we ping-ponged from one location to the next.
Fortunately, our speculation didn't last long given the tour organizer, George arrived shortly after the group had reached its peak. After introductions with each of the newcomers to the event, George laid out his tour route for the group, which had us completing a little over 20 miles with four distinct stops throughout town. As the group worked through the finer details of the fastest avenues from one location to the next, I excitedly geared up and prepared myself for the forthcoming ride. While I knew self-regulation throughout the day would be critical to making the "I have never..." experience a success, a part of me knew to gain the full experience I would have to try a variety of new drinks at our chosen locations. Luckily, our first stop, the Next Door Brewery, provided a second "I have never..." experience with ample opportunity to do just that.
|The first drink with the crew|
With only a few blocks from our meeting point to the Next Door Brewery, our group arrived at the location mere minutes after starting the tour. As someone that had never visited the Next Door Brewery before, I found the building's spacious interior, onsite brewing facility, and expansive food menu rather surprising. Doing our best to balance our intake of alcohol with the forthcoming long stretch of riding, it took Rachael and I little time to decide we were try the brewery's beer and cheese flight, which gave us the opportunity to sample several of the brewery's offerings with some unique, top-notch cheeses from around the world. Although it took some time to receive our order, it quickly became clear the wait was worth it. The beers were full of flavor and expansive in their range, and the cheeses with which they were paired provided a near perfect complement to the varied elements of each brew. Needless to say, we quickly worked through our flight as the rest of our party sipped away at the last drops of their beers. With that, we took to the road once more to tackle the longest leg of our journey, the Lake Loop bike trail that would take us to Lake Monona's south shore.
|On the road|
|The South Bay Lounge|
|Getting back to town|