There are people in this world who like to ride bicycles on scenic Maine roads and then drink beer and eat pizza after.
You might be one of them.
To help those beer-minded cyclists find an outlet for their interests, Maine Beer Company and L.L.Bean have partnered up for Thursday night bike rides all summer.
The 22-mile ride starts at 5:15 p.m. at Maine Beer Company, on Route 1 in Freeport, and they end there, too – where every rider is treated to a free beer. Nice.
Cyclists gather in the upper lot of the brewery, just outside the original entrance. (Related: If you haven’t been inside MBC since their expansion, then prepare to be wowed. It’s big and bright and beautiful in there.) You’ll want to pop inside to sign waivers – two of them – and in exchange get a token for your later beer.
When I rolled up on a recent Thursday for the first time, there looked to be a whole lotta pretty serious riders there (the sharp-looking bikes, the kits, the distinctive cycling sun glasses). I was in gym shoes on an old road bike suddenly very aware that I’d only been on my bike for more-than-a-commute-ride once this year – I think it was early May.
But I asked around and was assured this ride isn’t meant to be a hardcore cycling assault of the back roads. That said – it is described as a “moderate skill group ride.” (Meaning: my legs and lungs got a run for their money.)
There are four group options to choose from with varying paces (I didn’t catch what each group’s pace was, I was too focused on IDing which group is the slowest one. That’s group D, for the record. Riders self-select which group they wish to ride in, and around 5:15 p.m. the first (fastest) group takes off from the parking lot. A few minutes later, the next group goes. You get the idea.
The 22-mile route is a particularly pretty one, which takes cyclists on the rural and mostly quiet roads of Freeport, Yarmouth, North Yarmouth, and Pownal.
There are hills and long stretches past farms and trees whose branches stretch out over the road to touch their tree pals across the street, like nature’s version of London Bridge is Falling Down. There are cows and horses and turkey and deer.
There are a few rest stops along the way (as in, the group stops to rest and let everyone catch up. There are no water stops or fluffernutters on this ride), and short-cut options for those who might want them. (Admission: A couple of friends and I seriously considered taking a short cut, but we missed it and rode all 22 miles, which I’m ultimately glad about.)
And eventually, everyone finds themselves back at Maine Beer Company, where a free beer and not-free-but-worth-the-money pizza awaits. And socializing, if you’re into that, too.
Bike & Brew Ride
5:15 p.m. Thursdays though September
Maine Beer Company, 525 US Route 1, Freeport
Free, includes one beer (get token when you sign the waivers)