Pedal your way to the pubs

Have you ever seen 15 people ride a bike at the same time?

Neither have we.

But, you and 14 of your closest friends can now hop on a 15-seat cycle and pedal your way along the shores of Lake Superior or Lake Michigan, and all over Traverse City and Marquette in a pub crawl like no other.

UP Pedal Cruisers in Marquette opened for business in July.

"It's a lot of fun to see peoples' reactions as we ride through town," says owner Jesse Schramm. "The bike literally stops traffic, because people are trying to figure out what the hell it is."

It's today's big version of "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top"--that's what the hell it is--sort of. Except that riders hop off every 15 minutes to hit every hot spot in town--mostly the microbreweries and eateries.

There is plenty of excellent beer to sample in Marquette, and a pub crawl can be a ton of raucous fun, but (sigh) there ARE rules in place to preserve decorum, decency and all things moral. So, future riders, leave the six-pack at home--alcohol is prohibited. No, ladies, you may not pull off your tops. No, guys, you cannot stand and pee off the side between breweries. In other words, no public intoxication.

This is, after all, a family-friendly experience no matter what it's called.

But you can do a whole lot of other fun stuff while you soak in the culture and pedal (yup, everyone really does need to pedal) all over town. Some private tour groups tailor rides with food and servers or even musicians to lead sing-alongs and karaoke.

"We had a class reunion on the bike once, and a couple of birthday parties, "says Schramm "One guy brought his family and his girlfriend's family, and when we stopped along shore, he took her out on the rocks and asked her to marry him in front of everyone."

Cycle pub crawlers are springing up all over the place. They're doing it in Vegas, they're doing it in Marquette, and they are doing it in Traverse City, too.

The TC Cycle Pub seats 14 passengers that start and end their trip at The Filling Station Microbrewery in downtown Traverse City.  The TC Cycle Pub has been open since May.

"It's been a blast," says owner Kevin Farron. "We ride through residential areas, and when kids hear us coming--passengers are always laughing--they run outside and wave. One even set up a lemonade stand in the yard for us."

Clinch Park Marina is among the Cycle Pub's five or six stops [during each two-hour excursion] and Farron makes it clear that the bike is available for all kinds of private tours. Young people are welcome, with parents, and a recommendation that riders be at least 14 years old. No alcohol permitted, according to Farron. Yet.

"We're working on that. But we do more than bar-hop," he says. "We have done wine-tastings, birthday parties and company outings. One group of 14 friends booked a ride to see the sights and enjoy Traverse City on the bike."

"All of them were more than 70 years old. Anyone can do this."

Taking a bike ride in a scenic Lower Peninsula city or up north, across the big bridge, has never been more exciting. Oh, and about that proposal on the rocky edge of Lake Superior?

She said yes.

Kelle Barr is a Second Wave reporter and self-proclaimed expert pub-crawler. Reach her at Kellebarr@gmail.com


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