The Town Bike isn’t what you think it is.
Inspired by businesses that provide bike fleets for free staff use, Ben and Maria Kraus from Bridge Road Brewers decided to take the concept a spin further. Their Town Bikes hang near the entrance of this immensely popular microbrewery (snuggled down a Beechworth laneway) and they’re absolutely free for public use.
For many, the idea seems too good to be true, and Bridge Rd Brewers staff are often approached by tourists double-checking they’ve understood correctly.
Take your bike around town…? At no cost at all…? You don’t even need us to leave a refundable deposit…? We can bring it back whenever we want…? Are you for real…?
It’s yet another way the business seamlessly mixes its owners’ passion for cycling with innovative tourism-friendly ideas.
Indeed – Beechworth is all about tourism, and for good reason. Visitors flock to the charming North-east Victorian town near the foothills of the Alps to revel in the incredible local produce, rich history, boutique shopping and spectacular scenery. It’s the undulating hills, nearby serious climbs, revived Rail Trail and myriad mountain bike paths that make Beechworth especially popular with riders of all types, abilities and fitness levels.
For eight years Ben (born and bred in ‘Beechy’) and Maria (originally from Tirol, Austria) have kept locals and visitors alike quenched on boutique brews inspired by fresh seasonal and regional produce. The two met whilst Ben was working in wineries around Europe (but increasingly developing more interest in after-hour beers). Upon returning to Australia, Ben recognised an opportunity to introduce new beers to our southern palates.
These days, the brewery is a hive of activity selling not only beers, but cider (made on-site and by local providores) as well as an impressive menu of predominately great pizzas, salads and Maria’s signature pretzels. The brewery has established some fairly exciting collaborations with overseas counterparts, and it’s not unusual for whisky or cognac barrels full of overseas beer to arrive at Bridge Rd’s doorstep.
But why all this talk of beer? Because at Bridge Rd Brewers, Beechworth, beer and bikes seem like the ultimate triad. Both Maria and Ben enjoy road cycling and mountain bike riding around the region’s various paths and networks, and they’re not the only locals to do so – more and more of the region’s orchardists, farmers, business owners and young guns are taking to Lycra, with bunch rides organised at least weekly.
A member of the local Chain Gang MTB club, Ben tries to find time to ride at least a couple of times a week. The area is unquestionably a MTB mecca and certainly the local MTB park and Flame Trees Trail are just a few of the established MTB destination for riders around the state and further afield. Members from the club try to get away once a year on a cycling adventure, the most recent being Rotorua, New Zealand. The quality of the paths, the impressive MTB culture and the incredible scenery inspired club members to come home and motivate local bodies and groups to make the most of enhancing MTB in their own back yard.
In addition to MTB riding, the brewery also gets behind riding initiatives such as the Beechworth Gran Fondo. A recent and exciting new event to the (fairly chockers) calendar is the Tour de Beechworth, an organised ride of around 70 – 100km that coincides with the Tour de France, and finishes with a French inspired dinner at the brewery and live cross for diners to Mike Tomalaris (in France for SBS’s Cycling Central).
Road riding, mountain biking, rail trailing or borrowing the Town Bike – the Bridge Road Brewers are doing their bit to raise the profile and enjoyment of cycling – and the good life in general – in Victoria’s North-east.