By Joe Ross
Photos courtesy of Avery Brewing Co.
Anyone who has sampled Adam Avery’s extensive lineup of big beers knows he’s not one to take the easy way out – but riding a bike 435 miles over three of Colorado’s steep mountain passes seems a little crazy.
The owner of Avery Brewing Co. admits the yearly ride with fellow brewers is challenging but he looks forward to it like a six-day vacation.
Dubbed the Bouldurango Ride, Avery started the ride in 2009 when he needed some time away from the Boulder brewery.
He then pitched the idea to Dave Thibodeau, one of the owners at Ska Brewing Co. in Durango. Avery told him he’d like to end the ride at Ska and asked if that was ok. Thibodeau said he’d be glad to welcome the fellow brewer, but only if he was invited to participate.
The ride was born and a group of brewery owners and other staff have participated over the years. The ride also is a fundraiser and this year’s primary recipient will be Cyclists 4 Community, which supports Boulder area philanthropic groups.
“I thought it would be so cool to get some brewery owners together,” Avery said. “I didn’t want to go the easy way so … I chose the highest possible passes and decided to end it in Durango.”
He said some people consider the ride daunting but for Avery it’s a way to stay in shape and escape the grind – yes, the business of beer has its share of tough moments too.
“I want to do it,” Avery said. “It’s challenging. But I’ve ridden every single mile, every year.”
He said it’s just a cool thing to do: “I’m riding to Dave’s brewery in Durango!”
Participants rode from Boulder to Durango for several years. They reversed the route last year and will run it again beginning July 17.
Not for the faint of heart, the ride takes a lot of training and quite a few carbs to complete. Sometimes brewers get a bad rap for being heavy beer drinkers, but staying healthy is important, Avery said. “It’s got to be in a sustainable manner. It’s kind of the yin and yang of our lives,” he said. “You’ve got to maintain your health … so you can keep creating and crushing.”
Mental health is important, too. He said the group is essentially living together for six days, and they enjoy being out of the office and discussing work in the outdoors. Ideas are shared and everyone walks away with a tip or two that might make life easier in the brewery. “Sometimes we commiserate,” he said.
And when you get a bunch of wild brewers into the mountains, working their butts off to pedal over mountain passes for nearly a week, some comic relief can help ease the pain.
During last year’s Bouldurango, with the mountain temperatures peaking on a sunny afternoon, much of the group had crested Kebler Pass on the way into Crested Butte, Avery explained. Exhausted after roughly 100 miles of pedaling and thankful that the last few miles of the day would be downhill into the small ski town, some of the group waited for the stragglers. “It was hot as hell,” Avery said. “Just a brutalizing day.”
Alas, Ska Brewing’s Arlo Grammatica was spotted cresting the hill. Known as the barroom hero, as well as national sales manager, he rode toward the awaiting group wearing one black sock to cover his genitals, a sunburn and nothing else. “We (frickin’) lost our minds when we saw him coming up the hill,” Avery said.
It’s all in a day’s work for Colorado’s creative crushers who take a serious approach to producing great beer and having fun.
To follow the escapades of some of the state’s iconic brewers and characters during the 2017 Bouldurango, check out the social media sites for Avery and Ska.
At press time, the following breweries and staff members were considering participating in this year’s ride: Adam Avery, Dustin LeMoine, Joe Osbourne, Leigh Audin and Bernardo Alatorre at Avery Brewing; Ryan Sandlin at Dark Sky Brewing; Dave Thibodeau and Arlo Grammatica at Ska Brewing; Brian Dunn, Bryan Slekes and Bill Bertsch at Great Divide Brewing; Jeff Brown and David Zuckerman at Boulder Beer; David Cole at Epic Brewing; and Josh Breckel at Left Hand Brewing.