Designated Driver: Bob Williams thinks every ride should end with a cold one. Photo: Courtesy Beer and Bike
Colorado produces more beer than any place in the world (there are more breweries per capita here than any other state in America). But our incredible road cycling scene—ideal weather and endless miles of scenic canyon roads, fast flats though bucolic farms and epic alpine climbs—remains largely uncelebrated. Fort Collins resident Bob Williams, 38, hopes to change that with the launch of his new company, Beer and Bike Tours. “There’s such great biking here, and every one of my rides ends with a beer,” he says. “So the idea is to lead group tours and end every ride at a brewery.”
It’s a simple theory, but Williams and his wife Katy, a middle school teacher, have coordinated a sophisticated offering of nearly a dozen tours, from Rocky Mountain National Park to Durango, and all of the must-rides in between like Aspen, Steamboat and Winter Park. Their smallest offering is a six-hour day trip in Fort Collins for $75, including lunch and bike rental. Tours range from four days (like Fort Collins to Boulder) to eight days (like following the Pro Cycling Challenge course). Williams is also offering the “granddaddy of all bike trips,” the Tour de Colorado—550 miles over the course of 16 days from Fort Collins to Durango for $5,500. All Beer and Bike’s tours include hotel accommodations, luggage transfer, bike rental (or assembly), most meals and tastings at select breweries.
Williams got his start in the bike industry in 1996 working at Recycled Cycles in Fort Collins. He would become store manager before leaving on a stint overseas to accompany Katy on a teacher exchange program. The pair raised their first child in Berlin, and their second in Japan. It was in Germany that Williams first began thinking about leading bike tours once the family returned home to Fort Collins. “There’s hundreds of miles of non-car lanes for bikes in Europe,” he says, “whether you’re riding inn to inn, or beer garden to beer garden.”
While Colorado doesn’t have that type of infrastructure, Williams still thinks the road biking is stellar enough to draw tourists, especially when combined with beer. He launched beerandbiketours.com in February and shortly after had his first client—a couple from Phoenix looking to do some riding (and imbibing) in the Rocky Mountains. “I can’t think of a better way to spend a vacation,” he says.