It happened again. The mid-November shitshow that is the Beer Century. If you are not familiar with this spectacle, the gist of it goes like this. Tempe to Tucson. 120 miles. Beer every 10 miles. Simple enough. Here’s some memories of number III.
Now in its fourth edition we’re starting to learn some things. 1) There’s never a schedule, but getting off the roadway and on to the bike path before sunset is nice. 2) That arrival time is aided by leaving the origin bar with all deliberate speed. Beer. Shot. Ride. 3) Riding through Coolidge instead of Casa Grande is fucking luxurious by comparison. 4) If her first pickup line has anything to do with her bleached asshole, beware.
Myself, Nebraska Scott, Desert Yeti, and Krazy Karl of BPR rendezvoused at the Yucca Tap Room at about 5:57am. Our goal is always to slide in right at 6am, quick beer and a shot, and get the fuck out. In order to allow time for proper roadside shenanigans and still make it to Tucson at a reasonable hour we need to make haste. This was the first year we made it out before 7am…
Cruising down the canal path before sunrise had us confident we’d have a shot at getting to Tucson before dark. At least we hadn’t killed our chances before we’d even left.
Turning south towards the edge of the Valley we were swallowed up by a massive peloton of roadies. Like more than 100. Granted yes, we were on road bikes too. But not one of them took my flask as I offered our wares. This makes them roadies. Nice folk I’m sure they were, turns out they were headed to Tucson too. Just not in the same fashion as ourselves.
Before leaving south out of Chandler we scooped up the Spanniard and our team of five was complete. It’s worth mentioning here that both Karl and the Spanniard both have recovered from broken hips over the last year. And Karl healed a broken shoulder to boot. I’d almost done serious damage to my back while crashing in Japan the month before at SSWC. But compared to these two gentlemen, who the hell am I to complain.
We rolled up to the Gallopin’ Goose about 10:30. Some locals has told us it would be open, so we were crushed when the door was locked. However Yeti thought he’d give a knock. Sure enough a lovely barmaid answered the call, and told us to slide around back where she’d help us out. Nebraska pulled out some salami and cheese right as a tray of tallboys and whiskey arrived.
From there it’s about 15 miles and a beer to the halfway point in the pecan groves where we were to meet a couple pals from Tucson. They couldn’t shuttle up to Tempe so they did an out-and-back to meet us. They brought new energy and a mini growler of some fancy beer. A saison maybe? We took this opportunity for a long rest considering there’s shade and we were light years ahead of where we are normally.
Someone brought a bag of crazy ass jerky.
Leaving the pecan grove sends you towards one of the most anticipated stops of the ride. The travel center at Picacho Peak. There’s a Dairy Queen, a fireworks store, and even an adult boutique on the far side of the freeway. The crew acquired several blizzards, one unsafe looking hamburger, a pink sword, numerous boxes of industrial sized pop-its, and some beers. One of the boys from Tucson was very interested in the adult boutique mind you. I’d been there before to purchase the occasional inflatable animal for SSAZ, but it’s nothing to write home about. However when we rode away from the DQ we were down a man. Apparently he had trouble with his wheel and had insisted us to ride on. Breaking the cardinal rule of the group ride. I was skeptical.
From there the ride is a long stretch of frontage road that slowly leads you into metro Tucson. Only afterwards was I told of a mobile home bar in Red Rock just off route. Maybe next year.
Plenty of places to stop and drink. Occasionally the Burlington Northern Santa Fe pays us a visit.
After a last restocking of booze and supplies we finally hit the Tucson Loop bike path. And it was still daylight. Mission accomplished if there was one.
This was cause for a mini celebration, because last year in this spot it was pitch black and Desert Yeti was shivering. About 15 miles from town, we drank all but our last beers and turned up some music for the sunset cruise to the finish.
And Princess Stephanie broke out his victory stick.
Upon reaching town it was time to shine. Cleaned up and hit streets looking for food and a good party. We discovered a colorful turnout for tranny karaoke while eating sandwiches at Bumsted’s. Then hooked up with the crew freshly beat down by Dejay’s annual SandBox Showdown fatbike party. We bounced around town harassing bartenders before finally ending up at The Buffet. Proper dive for sure. Nebraska and I were sitting at the bar. One of the Tucson boys tells us that the two goth ladies over there in the corner fancy our style. Both of us are taken and not much in the mood for the game, but he persists. In passing one of the ladies mentions that “we both just got our assholes bleached“. I wanted to ask what her other favorite pickup lines were. “Want to play Yahtzee?” Tucson is a hell of a town.
Sunday morning brought us headaches, rain, and the the bi-annual Tucson Bike Swap. Always a good time to browse parts and drink on the street. While waiting for our ride back to Tempe, Nebraska, Dejay, and I had ourselves a time at the Surly Wench Pub. We met some enthusiastic ladies from British Columbia. They’d been cycling all over Arizona and had found themselves in Tucson among all these bike people. I love it when someone stumbles into your community and you get a chance to share some secrets. Shots were had, emails swapped, and maybe I’ll see them in BC someday.
It was a banner year for the Beer Century. A high water mark if you will. I see no reason why we won’t shoot for five next year. And I suggest you do the same. Grab some wheels. Grab some beers. Ride real far. Cause a scene. Bring the party.by