After a ride I can usually be found in the kitchen, searching for liquid refreshment, a bit spaced out from my exertions. My body drags me towards the fridge. I don’t have anything specific in mind, I’m just hunting for something cold, wet and tasty to quench my primal thirst. Usual options are the kids’ half finished sodastream, barley cordial concentrate, or a lonely beer. I have chosen each option on different occasions and all have hit the spot just fine.
The question I need to raise is whether beer is an acceptable option for my post ride recovery? And what about two or three? I mentioned this to a work colleague—a recreational long distance runner. She told me that a beer or two is actually beneficial after intensive exercise because of the water and minerals and stuff. That unqualified amateur opinion was good enough for me. Hallelujah! Crack ‘em open!
I experimented with a guilt-free beer recovery regime. I could feel that I needed beer and that beer needed me. It was mountain biking’s way of saying, “Mate you so deserve this and it will make you strong.” I deduced that the harder my ride the more beer I was allowed. Yeah, nah—wrong of course. After a few too many cold ones the alcohol started to overshadow the hydration. I dialled it back to the occasional couple of bevies and found a ride/beer balance.
So when I was invited to tag along on the #6peak6pack ride, organised by a few local Wellington mountain bikers, I already knew that beer after cycling was an approved combination. But drinking beer while cycling? Could I manage to ride up six peaks and drink beer at the top of each? And all in a single day? I began to wonder if the event was a practical joke, or whether this was a special part of mountain bike culture I had not yet come across.
I decided against training for the #6peak6pack. Instead I asked other participants for a strategy. Most seemed as stumped as I was, but they told me that this event was cooler than Enduro riding and that it demanded the use of craft beers with names like Aro Noir and Pernicious Weed — because they are brewed close to the trails. I believed it, headed down to the brewery, and much to my delight found they were available in cans—bingo!
I was all prepared: six cold cans of crafty, an oiled chain, and my latest Trail Fund riding jersey. But would I last the distance? Well I didn’t quite find out because family commitments meant that my #6peak6pack became a 3peak3pack (which wasn’t worthy of a hashtag). What a piker, what a wuss. What would the other riders think of me? “He sort-of drinks, sort-of rides, is probably under the thumb. Embarrassing.” Who cares, I was happy—it was just the right amount of riding and beer for me that day anyway.
So where to from here? I’m not sure really. So far I know that riding up a valley begs downing an ale. I know the delight of being offered a cold one from the boot of a mate’s car post-ride. I know that shredding down to Aro Valley can be chased by a sneaky tasting at the ‘Project’. Perhaps certain beers match certain riding styles and even certain bikes? I’ll ponder that. I’m not sure if cycling absolutely needs beer, but there is certainly a healthy mutual appreciation there. I’ll have to keep experimenting further.