2012 Tour de Brew

I rode in the 2012 Tour de Brew last Sunday morning. As it has in the past, the ride begins and ends in a cool industrial area near the river in Kansas City. The start/finish line is at Knuckleheads Saloon, a location replete with warehouses and train tracks, and adjacent to a small greenway where Electric Park was once located.

Built at the end of the nineteenth century, it’s long since closed, as has the Heim Brewery which was right next door. I’ve read that Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland was this park, which makes me all the more sad to have never had an opportunity to experience the place.

I didn’t make many photographs at this year’s Tour de Brew. I spotted this guy at the start line about fifty feet in front of me, wearing a vintage Molteni wool jersey and astride a Molteni Orange Eddie Merckx. Clearly, this was a photo op worth plunging into the crowd of bikes to pursue. I asked him to pose; he obliged and this cool portrait is the result. I probably should’ve gotten the guys name, but the ride was nearly about to begin.

The ride zig zags through industrial areas at first, allowing riders the chance to pass by the locations of numerous local breweries from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In most cases, there’s very little left to see, breweries being somewhat prone to blowing up and subsequently burning down. Prohibition, too, killed off much of Germany’s golden product line in the city.

The pathway is moderately rough and the ride organizers recommend wide tires, lots of extra tubes and patches, and a pump! I noticed several skinny tire riders with flats early in the ride, but my 700 x 28 Marathons held up well, with nary a problem.

I, of course, was on the lookout for cool vintage bikes. Sadly, there were few in evidence at this event. This nice old Paramount was leaning against a wall and I sort of wish I’d hung around to find the owner to see if he/she was interested in selling. (Then again, maybe that was a bad idea… my wife wouldn’t believe the story that another bike had followed me home.)

A lonely Jeunet stood in a rack at one of the rest stops.

And a Rambouillet. I’ve always been puzzled by Rivendell’s decision to stop making the Rambouillet randonneuse… everything I’ve read seems to be a universal endorsement for the bike.

Top of mind for most riders at the end of the ride was food.


Food and beer. It was, after all, the Tour de Brew.

Boulevard Beer was there in abundance and Boulevard Wheat tasted pretty fine after a moderately warm ride. Not as good as, perhaps, a Guinness might have tasted. But mind you, it definitely hit the spot.


4 thoughts on “2012 Tour de Brew

  1. Nice touch on the Electric Avenue postcard, Mark. Also, don’t be shy, which bike of yours did you run the Tour with? Inquiring minds want to know!

    • I rode this event on the Boulder Brevet, which has become my de facto “go to” bike for just about everything these days. Despite loads of stop signs and red lights (and I do mean LOADS!), I felt like the route was run relatively quickly for city riding – I averaged right at 15 mph. For the upcoming Tour de Cure it looks like I’ll be on my 1973 Peugeot PX10. It’s a much lighter bike and I’ve got a big cog in back for tackling the rollers with ease; big 45/53 chainring combo in front for the flats. Of course, I’ll probably run a whole lot faster on that for the first part of the ride and then drop down to a leisurely pace for the latter half. I used to ride the PX10 a lot, but it’s not seen a lot of road time the past year so I’m planning to take her south with me over the holiday weekend to Arkansas and see how she handles the long, draggy-assed climbs of the Ozarks.

  2. Thanks for the story and the photos. I too, love vintage bikes and would like to see more of them there. It is a historic tour after all and that is part of the fun. I may have to think about how to encourage costumes and the appropriate hardware.

    • Laurie, I’d love to see more cycling events emphasize vintage lightweight steel racers, perhaps a Grand Fondo in the l’Eroica model. I believe San Diego has a monthly vintage steel ride. Not to cast aspersions their way, but I’m thinking KC has a whole lot more history as a starting point!

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