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“I like to imagine it tastes like a first-place trophy would if that trophy were a beer!”

Biking and Beers

While the weather this week might make you believe that spring came and went last week, we actually have a few weeks of rather nice weather coming up, once spring rolls around. The celestial gods have scheduled the vernal equinox for this Saturday, March 20th — the moment we begin tipping from night outlasting day and begin to see the longer, beautiful days of springtime and summer — and warmer temps and bluer skies are sure to follow.

If you’re anything like us, the prospect of beautiful days at the Jersey Shore means that you’ll be getting your bike out of storage and on the road, so we caught up with our good friend at Bikes & Beers, Sam Accardi, to find out what steps you should take as you get ready to hit the open road.

After pulling his bike out of storage and before hitting the road, Sam suggests that folks do four things: clean, lubricate, tighten, and check — and, let’s face it, these are things that you can accomplish with a cold Cape May Brew Co. beer within reach.

For cleaning, Sam recommends a grease-cutting cleaner or a simple solution of warm water and Dawn soap.

“You don’t have to go crazy here taking apart the whole bike,” he says, “but I do suggest taking the wheels off to make things a bit easier. Just use a rag and wipe down any areas that look like dirt, dust, or grease has built up — we will worry about re-greasing later. Also, make sure to completely dry the rims and brake pads and check for any rust or major damage that would compromise the strength of the bike.”

Sam says that there are some great cleaning tools out there — he recommends this one by Park Tool –, but they’re not completely necessary unless you have several bikes or are a serious cyclist. Then, he says, it’s definitely worth the investment.

Your next step is to get your bike well lubricated to kick off the biking season. Sam says that there are plenty of good bicycle lubricants available, but he uses T-9.

“Areas that should be lubricated are the chain, and you’ll want to make sure that you get the inside of the chain that touches the chainrings or cogs,” Sam says. “Also check your brake arm pivot spots by holding your brakes and adding lubricant to any of the moving parts, just be sure to avoid the brake pads, and, if you have derailleurs, be sure to hit those, as well.”

Once you’ve cleaned and lubricated your bike, you’ll want to check to ensure that all of your bolts and cables are tightened.

“A quick trick is to pick up your bike an inch and drop it on its wheels,” Sam suggests. “If you hear a rattle, you can usually hear where things need to be tightened. If you have a quick-release on your tires, make sure that is tightened.”

Your final step is to check your bike, giving the entire bike a good once-over. 

“Check your tires to make sure they are properly inflated and have tread needed for your desired riding,” Sam says. “Check your lights and reflectors to make sure they are all in place and properly working; replace the batteries if needed. Check your gears by riding around the block a few times shifting gears and ensuring that everything is functioning properly.”

Once you’ve given your bike a good check, you might find that you need to replace some parts. In that case, Sam suggests that most riders might want to contact a professional.

“Depending on how knowledgeable you are, you can certainly make replacements yourself,” he says. “However, if you own a complex bicycle and are doing lots of riding, I recommend letting a professional help you. When you’re riding at 25 mph, you don’t want anything to go wrong with your bike.”

In such a case, Sam suggests that you contact a local bike shop. There are more than a few at the shore, but they seem to drop off in concentration as you go inland.

“Local bike shops are an amazing resource!” Sam says. “A few in the area I would recommend are Zippy’s Bikes in Wildwood, Village Bicycle Shop in Cape May, and Harbor Bike & Beach Shop in Stone Harbor.”

Once you’ve gotten your bike all gussied up for the season, Sam suggests a few other must-haves that you may want to consider.

“I highly recommend getting a cycling jersey,” he says. “It makes all the difference and cuts down on drag, making you faster! Also, make sure that your shorts are comfortable and have a good bit of padding. Nothing is worse than being uncomfortable on a long ride knowing you still have a ways to go. I also recommend a lighter water bottle — 12-16oz — and knowing places on your ride to fill it. If you’re riding longer, bring a small snack or energy gels.”

Luckily, Bikes & Beers has a few branded jerseys on their website, including a long-sleeved jersey, which Sam says is awesome for brisk morning rides.

Then, Sam suggests checking out a few cycling events and planning out an event schedule for the season.

“I’m biased here, but it makes such a difference when you ride in an organized event for multiple reasons,” he says. “You’ll have planned and guided courses, support during the ride, rest stops with food, etc., etc., and you’ll have the chance to meet other local cyclists!”

As you might imagine, being the head honcho at Bikes & Beers means that Sam’s got the in on any organized events in the area, including a new one from his organization.

“We just teamed up with USA Cycling to develop a Spring Training Program,” he explains. “It’s a 10-week event that’s catered to all levels and abilities of riding.”

Beginning March 29th, the event has three different difficulties for those looking to do an eventual ride of 30 miles, 60 miles, or 100 miles. The event comes with a t-shirt and an online raffle, as well as other perks.

“Every entry donates to USA Cycling,” Sam tells us, “plus you’ll receive a discounted membership to USA Cycling.”

We’ve got a few cyclists working right here at Cape May Brewing Company! We hit up a few to find out what they love about our favorite combination of beverage and activity.

Brewtique Associate Kara Kowalski — also Sam’s girlfriend and helper with all things Bikes & Beers — says that there’s nothing more refreshing than a cold beer after a long bike ride.

“I like to imagine it tastes like a first-place trophy would if that trophy were a beer,” she laughs. “My favorite Cape May Brewing Company beer after a ride would have to be Tan Limes! Having something so refreshing and delicious is perfect after an exhausting ride or even a leisure ride with your cycling brew crew!”

CFO Frank Stempin is a big cyclist, as well. He says that, since the beers we make are so refreshing and easy-drinking, they’re all great after a ride.

“So after a ride, sometimes halfway through, I prefer to sit back and enjoy the surroundings with a cold can of The Bog,” he says. 

In fact, it was release day for The Bog when we contacted Frank with our questions, and he happened to be stopped on the Ocean City beach, enjoying a mid-ride can of The Bog.

“I find The Bog light and refreshing,” he says, “not too strong or needing to be paired with food, though I do enjoy it while eating out with family and hopefully soon with friends.  It is a great beer while on the golf course or just after at the 18th hole.”

Our very own Packaging Manager Mark Graves actually used to work at a bike shop in his younger days.

“Riding for me, whether it’s a short workout or a long haul endurance ride, is a rewarding experience,” he says. “So, after a good ride, I’m usually looking for something light that enlivens the senses, without sitting in my belly like a hammer. This year, Key Lime Corrosion is that beer for me. Crisp, dry, and refreshing for a very well-earned pint of Cape May beer.”

Though, Mark is considering switching things up this year.

“To be honest, I may try one of our new Cape May Hard Seltzers post-ride this year,” he says. “They came out really good.”

We posed Sam the same question, and he had some trouble making a choice.

“Oh man, probably the toughest question yet! There are so many!” he says “I’d say for me it depends on the temperature outside. If it’s a scorcher, I’m always going for a Tan Limes or Crushin’ It and probably sitting on the beach. If I just finished up a colder weather ride, expect me to be sipping on a Coastal Evacuation!”

Whichever Cape May Brewing Company brew you love, you’ll want to pick up a six-pack to enjoy after your ride. Check our Beer Finder — you can probably find a retailer along your ride!

It should be mentioned that the links to non-CMBC or -Bikes & Beers products in this blog are not affiliate links. Neither Cape May Brewing Company nor Bikes & Beers will receive any payment or commission if you purchase through these links: they’re being suggested by Sam because they’re products he believes in and uses on a regular basis.