Two weeks ago, at the April edition of the First Friday art walk, you could hear an approaching roar coming down the street. People on the sidewalk stopped as what appeared to be some sort of old-timey boat on wheels rolled down the crowded streets. At first, it looked like a bus. But as it approached, you could see the pumping thighs of passengers as they waved joyously to those not lucky enough to have secured a seat on what turned out to be the Cycle Pub of Bend. It looked like a hell of a lot of fun, not to mention an Earth-friendly way to tour Bend's breweries.
The brainchild of local software salesman James Watts, the Cycle Pub debuted briefly at Bend WinterFest before going dormant for the rest of the winter, but with summer weather approaching (allegedly), Watts is taking reservations for those who want to load up on the massive bike ship. The Cycle Pub can fit 16 people, but only 12 need to pedal. Steering duties, however, are handled by the pilot who safely navigates the massive wheeled contraption around the streets of Bend.
Watts says the idea isn't new, but it's definitely new to the West Coast.
"They have been rolling around Europe in one form or another for several years now," says Watts, who got the idea during a trip abroad and is now garnering interest from other cities that are interested in the design.
He tapped Bend-based Atek Customs to fabricate the complex machine that allows all 12 cyclists to pedal independently and four other free loaders to get a pedal-free trip. The gears contribute to a drive train that powers the vehicle, and while the power of 12 humans is considerable, Watts says that they nevertheless keep away from hills.
And that's all they have to do - other than drink the beer, wine or other beverages they're free to bring along on the Cycle Pub, which has the blessing of both the OLCC and Bend police. (While the Cycle Pub is equipped with tap handles for kegged beer, it's strictly BYOB at this point - just promise to recycle when you disembark.) Watts says they're currently booking group tours, but come summer, they want to be able to put smaller groups together on the bike, making it somewhat of a moving bar as it travels around town, sometimes stopping along the Bend Ale Trail.
"Once summer gets rolling, I can broker groups of twos and threes and fours hopping on the bike with other like-minded people. It's just like at a pub where you belly up next to a stranger and, after a couple hours, you're friends," said Watts.
To book a spot on the Cycle Pub of Bend, visit cyclepub.com or call 541-678-5051.