Bike tour: politics and beer
A ride teams craft brews and crafty politicians.
GUIDE Bobby’s Bike Hike
LENGTH 20 miles, 4.5 hours
STARTS AT Bobby’s Bike Hike (465 N McClurg Ct)
TOC EXCLUSIVE TOUR June 18 at 2:30pm; $29, with bicycle and helmet rental $49. Must be 21 or older. Future tours TBD. (312-915-0995)
As I zoom up to Bobby’s Bike Hike’s Streeterville HQ, Evan Kuchar, a 31-year-old avid cyclist and tour guide for Bobby’s, reveals his amiable charm right away: He’s at the ready with his tool set to tighten my bike’s jankety front brake. Now we’re ready to roll on a quirky spirits tour with the tagline “everything in moderation,” pairing the obvious moderation angle—we’re touring two brewpubs—with a glimpse of the homes of two local politicians who may not know what the word means.
GET YOUR GOOSE After a quick bonus stop to check out the Lincoln Park digs of philanthropist and Obama fund-raiser Penny Pritzker—whose low-lying home certainly seems like an exercise in moderation for the millionaire family—we pedal to Goose Island Clybourn (1800 N Clybourn Ave, 312-915-0071). Kuchar taps his local-history databank, explaining that the brewery, opened in 1988, was the first in the city since Prohibition. Today and on every tour, visitors get to taste new beers not available in stores. (On the June 18 ride, sample a brew from a new Green City Market series, most likely featuring Michigan strawberries.)
RAHM COM Our longest ride of the tour takes us all the way northwest to notoriously hot-headed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood home (4228 N Hermitage Ave). The handsome two-story structure, set on about a quarter-acre of land, is well-kept with baby blue shutters and a separate two-car garage.
FOR THE LOVE OF ROD Next up: a whole different stripe of politician. At the Ravenswood Manor home of Rod Blagojevich (2934 W Sunnyside Ave), I spy possible affirmation of the reports that the family has spent most of the money they’ve earned from reality shows on legal fees: The roof of their house—a stately brick affair that seems to take up three regular-sized city lots—needs some major TLC. Kuchar explains the events leading up to Blago’s impeachment to a tour participant from Virginia; she asks if anything sets him apart besides corruption. Kuchar naturally pegs “that bike helmet of a hairdo. For Blagojevich, moderation is visiting the hairdresser only once a week.”
METRO AREA We save the best for last, rolling up to Metropolitan Brewing (5121 N Ravenswood Ave) in Andersonville. Assistant general manager Jess Straka greets us warmly, as does Phelps, the resident beagle-basset. We wheel our bikes into the spacious warehouse, where owners Doug and Tracy Hurst have been brewing Dynamo Copper Lager all day. Everybody gets a glassful (plus a water option, for anyone who doesn’t wish to imbibe). Straka talks about the process of creating craft beers, then fills us in on some Metropolitan trivia—like the source of the names of the company’s fermentation tanks, labeled “Edith Keeler” and “Zefram Cochrane.” (Foreign to you, too? Turns out they’re Star Trek characters.) The malty brew goes down so smoothly, our generous hosts allow us a second serving. Moderation in action? Well, hell, I live only about a mile away.