Tour de Beer: Brewers embark on six-day Rockies odessey

Nine breweries and pubs, 450 miles, 40,000 feet of elevation gain

Craft brewers experiment a lot with ingredients. For cyclists who also happen to be beer drinkers, the owners of Avery Brewing and Ska Brewing have created the recipe for what may be the perfect week.

Here’s the daily formula: watch the Tour de France, ride between 50 and 130 miles with friends, get a massage, hang out at mountain breweries and drink beer. Repeat six times.

The Tour de BoulDurango, now is its fourth year, is a six-day supported ride in Colorado from Boulder to Durango, via a number of high Rocky Mountain passes. Following the crew is Avery’s 15-passenger van, which sports a big-screen TV and, this week, a professional masseuse as well as a sturdy supply of beer. Every evening the crew stops at a brewery or brew pub along the route.

“We’re brewery owners. We’re not pros, or cat 1s. We’re all mortals,” said Avery marketing director Joe Osborne. “Some of the guys have never ridden anything like this in their life. Others, like Boulder Beer owner Jeff Brown, are animals.”

Open to riders in the craft beer business, Tour de BoulDurango includes cyclists from Avery, Ska, Left Hand Brewing and Boulder Beer.

“This year weren’t able to get as many breweries as past because a few of the guys are opening new breweries on the East Coast,” Osborne said, referring to past participants from Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues.

Riders pause before tackling loveland pass on day 3: riders pause before tackling loveland pass on day 3
Riders pause before tackling loveland pass on day 3: riders pause before tackling loveland pass on day 3
The brewer-riders pause before tackling Loveland Pass

To commemorate the ride, Avery released a batch of SKAVERY Wheelsucker Wheat, which the brewery created — just like the ride concept — in collaboration with Ska. The beer is a German-style Hefeweizen. 

Also, Ska and Avery are raising money for the advocacy group Bicycle Colorado, which was recently recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a model organization for other states.  Funds from the kickoff party at Avery and the conclusion party at Ska will go to Bicycle Colorado.

Supporting breweries and pubs along the way are Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, Breckenridge Brewery in Breckenridge, Eddyline Brewpub in Buena Vista, Brick Oven Pizzeria in Crested Butte, and Ouray Brewing Company in Ouray.

“The first three days are pretty mellow, riding about 3.5 to 4 hours a day,” Osborne said. “We did Boulder to Idaho Springs, Idaho Springs to Breckenridge, and then Breckenridge to Buena Vista.”

From there, the days get bigger: Buena Vista over the 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass to Crested Butte, a 132-mile haul from Crested Butte to Ouray, and then finally over three mountain passes into Ska’s home in Durango.

Lucky u indeed. every day ends at a brewery or a brew pub: lucky u indeed. every day ends at a brewery or a brew pub
Lucky u indeed. every day ends at a brewery or a brew pub: lucky u indeed. every day ends at a brewery or a brew pub
Every ride ends at a brewery or a brew pub. Ride founder Adam Avery enjoys the fruits of his friends' labor in Breckenridge

Caitlyn Vestal joined a past version of the Tour de BoulDurango.

“I had a blast the year I did it,” Vestal said. “You just have a great time doing those long rides every day, taking in the scenery and hanging out with cool people. Not to mention you are promoting craft beer — and consuming your fair share along the way!”

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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