There’s a pretty big overlap between the “love sports” and “love alcohol” crowds. There’s just something about loosened inhibitions that enhances the vicarious feeling of cheering for — or bemoaning — your team. But unless you’re bowling or golfing (two decidedly low-impact sports), if you’re actually engaging in anything approaching aerobic activity, you usually save the suds for the after party.
However, the Capital City Bike-N-Brew, coming May 5 to East Lansing and Lansing downtowns, introduces rigorous exercise to the bar crawl concept. Consider it the night (or afternoon) of vice that allows you to work off your guilt as you go along.
“I came across the pedal pub idea in other cities, and I wondered why Lansing didn’t have one yet,” said owner Josh Sherry. “I started doing research, and I reached out to someone at (the Lansing Economic Area Partnership), and I said, ‘What do I have to do to make this happen?’”
LEAP put Sherry in touch with the City of Lansing, which connected him with the Greater Lansing Taxi Authority. Sherry broke down how much money a pedal pub could bring to the city — he estimates up to $500,000 per bike per year, including the tour fees and money spent at area businesses — and a special license was granted for the business.
“I had to jump through a couple of hoops, but fortunately they saw the (potential),” Sherry said. “It combines entertainment and socializing. It’s something cool to do, so I decided to run with it.”
Pedal pubs are 15-seat, pedal-powered vehicles that usually double as a mobile bar. There are only 10 pedal seats, though, allowing up to five members of a tour to sit back and let the others get a workout. Each bike weighs about 1,500 pounds and costs about $50,000. Sherry is starting with two of them, and he is customizing both with a special canopy and logo. Neither bike has a permit that would allow drinking on the actual vehicle, so Sherry partnered up with local establishments to turn an aimless booze cruise into a tour of local watering holes.
“This is great exposure for some of the newer bars, especially the ones that are off the beaten path,” Sherry said. “It’s important for me to support local mom-and-pop-owned establishments.”
Each downtown will have a dedicated pedal pub. The East Lansing base of operations will be Ellison Brewery and Spirits; the Lansing base is still being decided. A tour will consist of no fewer than eight people —the minimum number needed to actually power the pedal pub — who will spend two hours visiting up to four locations. Participating bars will offer food and drink specials.
“My goal is to eventually allow alcohol on bike, but we’re taking baby steps,” Sherry said. “Right now, I’m just happy to be doing this. But no matter what, we’ll always start and stop at brewery or bar. That’s a central component.”
Sherry said each bike can accommodate up to six tours per day. Once Capital City Bike-N-Brew launches next month, tours will be offered Wednesday through Saturday, from May to October. The weekday rate will be $325 per tour, and on weekends it will be $350. To start with, only pre-booked private tours will be scheduled, but eventually Sherry said he would consider doing a couples or singles night.
“I’ve been here for four years, coming in from working in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, and it’s great to see Lansing moving in the direction of having more entertainment options,” Sherry said. “My big thing is helping to grow the city, to help out with exposure and bring new people downtown.”
Sherry is also the founder of the Greater Lansing Sport & Social Club, a local group that engages in a variety of organized sports before heading out to the bar together. The club launched four years ago.
“I started the club as a way to get young professionals to meet other cool people and have a real social experience afterward,” Sherry said. “We get a good mix of different types of people, and it’s been a success on all fronts.”
Sherry says the Sport & Social Club and the Bike-N- Brew business won’t necessarily overlap, but they do have a lot in common.
“Lansing is on the rise, and I feel like now is a perfect time to start something unique and engaging like this,” Sherry said. “MSU has 45,000 students, and they’re just running away from the city looking for things to do. It shouldn’t be that way. Between the club and the pedal pubs, I’m doing my part to get people to stay downtown and give them something fun to do.”
Capital City Bike-N-Brew (at Ellison Brewery and Spirits) 4903 Dawn Ave., East Lansing Wednesday-Saturday by appointment only, starting May 5 (616) 299-7487, ccbikenbrew.com