Every once in a while an idea comes along that is so brilliant that it goes viral – without a marketing team, without an advertising budget, without an exclusive club of ambassadors or a guerrilla PR plan. It goes viral just because it’s a great idea, a pure, unadulterated stroke of genius. That is the La Crosse Beer By Bike Brigade.
The fact that La Crosse’s Beer By Bike Brigade has inspired legions of locals to take to the roads on their bicycles after dark and work up a sweat while pub crawling is in itself impressive. (While our adoration of taverns and deep fried curds is well documented, we Cheeseheads are not particularly known for our love of exercise.) What’s more impressive is BBBB is a grassroots effort, started by group founder Mario Youakim, who simply wanted to bike and drink beer with his buddies.
A year ago, there were only a handful of bikers. But word spread. And the group grew. The Facebook group swelled. Businesses started stepping forward, seeing the benefit of rolling out the suds-soaked carpet for these wanna-be Lance Beerstrongs.
And in July of this year, on a perfectly warm summer evening, about 125 bikers met up at La Crosse’s Riverside Park for a night of pedaling from pub to pub. They wound through the marsh. They rode through downtown La Crosse. They established an impromptu parade route with cheering bystanders. And they cash mobbed locally-owned businesses.
That was the first night I joined the group. Tonight, they ride again. I daresay the group will be even bigger this evening, as new riders who have RSVPed on Facebook number nearly as many as veteran riders.
It’s such a pure, beautiful thing: a group of strangers bonding over bikes and beer, dusting off their LED lights, pedaling to the pounding beat from a tricked-out tricycle in the mix, waving to patient motorists and grinning and bike bell-ringing as crowds line the streets downtown, cheering them on.
It’s a restore-your-faith-in-humanity effort; Wisconsin’s version of Critical Mass. A simple, honest, no-entry-fee, no-special-membership, everybody’s-welcome reason to be happy.
And I, for one, am honored to be a part of it.
Well played, Mario. Well played. Or should I say pedaled?
There’s still time to make it tonight! Check out the deets at: https://www.facebook.com/events/636599316353015/?directed_target_id=0
Special thanks to the BBBB group, who granted permission for these photos to be republished on this blog. You rock! And roll….
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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, food-lover and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb