“PEDAL, PEDAL, PEDAL!” The light just turned green and Justin Day needs to get his vehicle moving. But the only way anyone in the vehicle moves is if they all start frantically pushing the pedals at their feet.
Day is piloting the ten person Patio Ride, an odd looking vehicle powered entirely by its passengers. You’ve probably seen a few of those crawling through the streets of downtown Denver or into the Rino area. In few other circumstances will you see a group of people so ecstatic to move so slowly. The vehicle seldom tops eight mph. But fun music pounds out of it. Passengers scream, pedal, laugh, sing, pedal, dance, and make sure everyone sees them. And then they pedal some more.
The Denver Patio Ride is locally owned by Chuck Henry and Casey Bobay. The business partners also own the downtown Pedicab business. They run 72 of the bicycle rickshaws and have become quite familiar with the business of pedaling around Denver. With all of the maintenance equipment, storage space, and licensed drivers, it was a natural progression to start a bicycle bar.
“At first I thought it was the dumbest thing I ever saw,” Bobay said about his first encounter with the Patio Ride. But he and Henry quickly warmed up to the idea and began Denver Bike Bar with two sleds. Last year they bought out Denver Patio Ride, and adopted that name for what has become a fleet of four bikes.
Since their first ride in 2011, the Denver Patio Ride has welcomed over 1,000 people onto its inward facing saddles. That’s a huge group of people who have had a great time at six mph.
The Patio Ride is available any day or time of the week. They’ll set you up with a driver and a bike for $320 on weekends or $295 during the week. Ten people pedal, with an additional five spots for the pampered set. The middle area is open for dancing and all other sorts of activity. If you are occupying the center, the expectation is that you will be damn entertaining!
Justin Day and the other drivers recognize that their job is to do more than steer the ride. They are your party facilitators. They will get a feel for the group, then pull up an appropriate Spotify or playlist to energize everyone. Riders can request specific bars for stops, or they can leave it up to the very knowledgeable party facilitator. He’ll know which spots are offering patio riders specials on drinks.
No alcohol is allowed on the bike in compliance with open container laws, but there is plenty of time for consumption at each stop. Flaming up a little marijuana is also not allowed. It would be considered public consumption, which is still illegal.
Most bar breaks last 20-30 minutes, allowing time for a quick couple of drinks before Day dives into the crowd to gather people back onto the bike. Then the music begins blasting again, feet start pushing, and the patio rolls into the night traffic with its now buzzed power source.
Each ride launches from the Blake Street Tavern. Riders are encouraged to arrive early to grab a beverage or meal from the bar. Decorating the bike to mark it as your own is welcome, but allow yourself enough time to make it pretty before it begins to roll. They do adhere to the schedule as closely as possible.
The Denver Patio Ride, as one would expect, is popular with the young party crowd. But its riders have been very diverse. Costumed people of various themes have jumped on. Corporations have sponsored their office workers on it as team building events. Birthday girls, bachelorettes, scavenger hunts, reuniting families, shoppers, suburban visitors, tourists, and others have taken their party on the road with the Patio Ride.
There are no age restrictions for the ride. Even grandmother Pam Deppiese was enthusiastically bouncing to Sir Mix-a-Lot while pushing the pedals. At the same time, Laura King—at about half Pam’s age, was hopping down the center aisle shaking what Mix-a-Lot was talking about.
The bars are very happy to see the laughing groups spill off the ride and into their establishment. Rhiannon Hase, the bar manager of Blake Street Tavern, speaks for many of the bars when she says, “They bring the best type of customers. They come, drink, then leave.”
The customers are just as happy with the arrangement. There seems to be little interest in camping at one location when the ride can bring them elsewhere. After knocking back a drink, they are anxious to get back to what Day describes as “…a drinking spin class.” That’s an accurate description. Loud energetic, music, a need for constant motion, and an instructor who is often yelling “PEDAL! PEDAL! PEDAL!”
Denver is great spot for a drinking spin class. Henry and Bobay also run Patio Rides in Oklahoma City. But the Denver market has been a lot better to them. Some of that is due to several months of pleasant mountain climate. Probably even more influential is the culture of a city that encourages its citizens to do something active every weekend. Working in some of great local brews into that activity makes for a very Denver evening.
Book your group’s excursion at Denverpatioride.com. They will accommodate your schedule as long as a bike is available during your desired hours. Make sure you get in before November, when they close for the winter. No training is necessary, but strong calves and a healthy alcohol tolerance will benefit most riders.