Business

Big Grove Brewery reaches out to winter cyclists

Audrey Weidemeier, RadTour director, with her bicycle at Big Grove Brewery and Taproom in Iowa City on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Audrey Weidemeier, RadTour director, with her bicycle at Big Grove Brewery and Taproom in Iowa City on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — A snowy winter bicycle ride is just what Eastern Iowans need to fight cabin fever and blow off a little steam. At least, that’s the theory of staff at Big Grove Brewery.

Big Grove, which has locations in Iowa City and Solon, is branching out from its craft beer and scratch food niche and trying something a little different — hosting a bike ride on Sunday. The chillier and snowier it is, the bigger the badge of honor will be for completing it, they say.

“It’s an excuse to go outdoors in February,” said Audrey Wiedemeier, a Big Grove staffer who organized the ride and has created other rides, such as the Culinary Ride, under her business, Radtour.

They are calling it the Big Grove Brrrewery Ride. It will go from Big Grove in Iowa City to Solon and back to Iowa City, starting at around 9 a.m. on Sunday. The free event is about 30 miles round trip, with a 43-mile scenic option.

The schedule includes free breakfast burritos and coffee during registration at the Iowa City tap room, 1225 S. Gilbert St., during check-in between 9 and 9:45 a.m.; a pit stop at St. Mary’s on Newport Road between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.; a special brunch menu and half-priced beers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Big Grove Solon, 101 W. Main St.; and a free beer upon return to the Iowa City Big Grove.

Organizers have created online maps of the route, and more information is available online at facebook.com/events/388442944938505.

If all goes well, Danny Standley, co-owner of the Iowa City location, said additional bike rides should follow.

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“I am not sure it would be weekly but maybe a few bigger ones,” Standley said. “We want to be active with our outdoor space and engage the community. We want to be part of the bike culture, and not just another stop on people’s rides.

“This fits right in.”

Part of Big Grove’s charitable mission is Big Grove for Good, which includes supporting local sustainability and conservation efforts, the city’s parks and recreation department, and outdoor events such as bike rides and road races, according to its website.

‘A good ride’

Certain bars and restaurants have capitalized on the growing cycling market either through proximity to busy bike routes or by embracing the spandex crowd as a welcoming place to stop.

The Solon venue, which opened in 2013, already has become a stop for cyclists. The newer Iowa City brewery is located directly on the Iowa River bike trail thanks to a newly installed bridge to Riverfront Crossing Park.

By organizing the ride, Big Grove is taking a new step to engage the cycling community.

The idea to organized a brewery ride had been percolating since the Iowa City location opened last year.

“I love the idea,” said Ryan Baker, owner of World of Bikes, a bicycle shop. “I’ve been talking to everybody I can about doing a ride like this since Big Grove down here opened. I thought it would be a good ride.”

Baker noted his shop and Big Grove Iowa City area planning other bike-related partnerships, such as series of bike clinics focused on basic repairs, RAGBRAI and other topics, are slated to be held at the brewery this spring.

Despite the chilly outlook — a high of 17 on Sunday — a market exists for daunting winter weather rides.

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The BRR ride, or Bike Ride to Rippey, is a 24-mile round trip ride from Perry to Rippey the first Saturday of February. The annual ride that draws more than 1,000 participants from around the state and beyond hit 41 years last Saturday.

“Known as the ‘original winter bike ride,’ BRR riders have experienced frigid temperatures and wind chills while plowing through a foot of snow and have also enjoyed spring like temperatures of 60 degrees,” according to the Perry Chamber of Commerce, which helps put on the event.

Fat tire winter endurance bike races, such as GO CR Fat in Cedar Rapids and I Am Fat in Iowa City, also have gained followings.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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