Craft Beer & Mountain Biking Pairings 101

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Ever wondered what beer to drink before, during ????, or after a mountain bike ride? Beer and biking go together like birds on a feather. And just like feathers, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’ve been mountain biking before or craft beer drinking before, together, separate, never, always, whatever, these tips will help you combine the two for a perfect love affair with both.

Kenny taking pictures of beer and biking at Boreas Pass Colorado
Taking that much needed photo of the beer after biking up Boreas Pass near Breckenridge, Colorado

Kenny and I started our mountain biking adventures in our 40’s, making us a bit more cautious than those youngsters out there starting in their teens and becoming crazed riders into their twenties. We learned from others. So we want to spread the love and share a few mountain biking tips with you. We hope these get you out of feeling like a beginner and into feeling like you know a little bit about what you’re doing.

Keep in mind, we are not here to teach you how to ride a bike. We are assuming you learned this before you could drink. But we are here to give you a few tips on mountain biking and what to drink afterwards.

We are thrilled to be hosting MTB group rides at CAMP CARPE DIEM (CCD). If you’re a bit hesitant about riding by yourself, or just want to ride with friends, REGISTER NOW so you don’t miss out!

LASL sidebar Camp Carpe Diem logo v4 copy 2

Who are the CCD sponsored group rides really for?

We’re going off of the assumption that you know how to ride a bike and have ridden a few mountain biking trails in your time. We’re also assuming you have a mountain bike. If you are looking for recommendations on purchasing or renting one, please reach out. We want to help get you excited about mountain biking!

  • You don’t have to be an expert, just someone looking to one up their skills from a beginner to an intermediate rider.
  • Or maybe you’re already a middle of the pack mountain biker, but really love riding with friends and want to re-enforce some skills you may have forgotten.
  • Or maybe you actually are an expert rider and just want to tag along and get to know new people.

If you are one of the above, and love Colorado in the fall, check out Camp Carpe Diem, where your camp hosts will not only be teaming up with experts in the MTB field, but we will also be offering photography lessons, yoga classes, beer pairing and tasting how-to’s and so much more.

Since CCD doesn’t happen until October, you’ve got time to get ready for some MTB fun, and we’ve got six mountain biking tips to get you stoked for some riding with friends.

6 Mountain Biking Tips to Get You to That Next Level

Level Pedals

The best advice I ever got was from a friend of mine who invited me to join an all women’s mountain biking group. The advice was simple. When not pedaling, keep your pedals parallel to the ground. Meaning do not let one pedal be higher than the other (level pedals).

Keeping your pedals at the same level will prevent that lower pedal from possibly hitting that large rock you thought you just rode over, but your pedal decided it wanted to hit it instead, and BAM! On your face! No more pretty cheekbones for you.

April biking near Silverton level pedals
Level Pedals!

Of course, the other piece of advice casually mentioned here is that while not necessary, it does help build confidence; join a group of like-minded riders. They become friends, teachers, and best of all, fellow craft beer drinkers with which you can share your craft beer wisdom in return for their biking wisdom. Definitely a reason to join us at Camp Carpe Diem!

The Gear that Clears the Hill

Hills suck! Even if you are riding for the exercise and not for the pure enjoyment of biking (which is what you should be riding for), hills suck! We do a lot of mountain biking at elevation, meaning you are already short of breath, you are riding on dirt and rocks, and now you want me to ride up a hill?! Insert cuss words here! ????

So, if they suck, why not just avoid them? Cuz there’s that downward reward at the end. So, how do you conquer that hill to access that reward? Put your bike in the lowest gear and pedal hard! Right? Wrong!

Yes, you want your bike in a lower gear, but oftentimes that lowest gear doesn’t give you the ability to pair that much needed human power with the lower gear, so you find yourself spinning not only your pedals, but also your tires as you get nowhere going up that hill. So, when climbing that hill, lean forward, put a little effort into your pedaling, and keep that gear just one shift higher than you think.

Brakes Deserve Equal Pressure

What goes up must come down. Depending on the trail you have chosen, this isn’t always the case, but part of the reward of mountain biking is to earn your beer.

So climb that hill, but make sure you get to fly a bit, too. Just not over your handlebars. So, when that downhill is scaring the crap outta you and you find yourself missing that uphill because at least it’s slower, press both the front and back brake equally and slowly so as not to fly over the handlebars, yet keep you flying (slowly) down the hill.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be drinking my beer through a straw while sitting in a hospital bed. Do they even allow that?

April biking near Moab with a lager in the foreground
Equal pressure, level pedals, and beer!

Drop It and Back It Up

Now that you know how to properly handle your brakes, you’re ready for some excitement flying down that hill you so meticulously climbed. You’ve earned that reward.

But don’t start flying yet. You’ve got to prepare yourself for that downhill, so your flying doesn’t consist of over the handlebars. If you have a dropper seat, now’s the time to drop it. Then back your ass up towards the rear tire, so you’re not leaning too far over the handlebars. This position will shift your weight towards the back giving you equal weight over your bike as you enjoy your well-earned downhill.

The Switchback Dance

Switchbacks on a road while driving an RV doing 20 mph are already scary enough, now you’re telling me there are switchbacks on mountain biking trails? Yep, and they are quite fun to maneuver, especially when you know how to do so.

When heading into a switchback, whether uphill or downhill, the key is to give yourself enough space to make the turn. So, when heading into a left switchback head to the right side of the trail, and vice versa.

If heading downhill, try to get most of your braking done prior to entering the switchback. When entering, choose your line ahead of time – know where you’re going (not what you’re trying to avoid) – and shift your bike (slightly) into the direction you want to go, rotating your body into the turn as you go. The tighter the turn, the more lean in your bike.

Take Your Bike for a Walk

The joy of being on a bike compared to an RV, is that you can always get off your bike and walk it around an obstacle, a switchback, or anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

For example, those pesky switchbacks can be quite intimidating the first time you come across one, especially heading downhill. If it truly scares the crap outta you, get off your bike and walk it down. However, I recommend trying it, and if you don’t like the way you rode it, get off your bike, walk it back up the hill, and try it again. Just remember common sense; if on a busy trail, don’t do this. If nobody else is around, and it seems you have the trail to yourself, this is a great time to practice skills.

There have been many intense hills combined with switchbacks that piss me off when I don’t maneuver them successfully, so I will adjust something, whether it be a gear, or my riding style, or picking a different line, and then try it again.

I am also not afraid of walking my bike when I come across a portion of a trail that I am not comfortable with. There is no shame in wanting to live beyond your adventure. By all means, push past your comfort zone and challenge yourself, but don’t attempt something you are not prepared or trained for. You want to live another day for more adventures and, of course, more craft beer rewards!

April offering a high five to the camera while in biking gear
High Five! You got this!

What’s Better than Mountain Biking?

Is there really anything much better than jumping on your bike and hitting the trails? Um…YES! Riding with friends and drinking the beer afterwards! We hope you can join in on all the fun at Camp Carpe Diem. Even if you don’t mountain bike, there’s plenty of other activities to check out and new people to meet!

This was one of our first forays into mountain biking.

The All Important Beer to Biking Pairing!

Drinking in Moderation is Key

If you’re going to pair drinking with biking, moderation is a key component. Drinking before you ride isn’t often a great option, but if you are going to be drinking beer before you ride, keep both the ABV and the quantity on the lighter side. Downing a 5% Pilsner or Session IPA before you head out isn’t all that reckless. Perhaps just as important is getting and staying hydrated BEFORE you ride. (No, I don’t mean crushing Bud Light or Michelob Ultra!) Down some good old H2O and keep drinking water while riding. 

The same can really be said for drinking during a ride. If you use common sense and will power, you should be fine. Keep the beers on the lower side of the ABV scale and don’t drink a lot while riding, especially if you’re out on a trail. You need to keep your skills sharp so that you don’t hurt yourself or someone else. Safety is always more important than a good beer. (Yeah, I said that.) Besides, at the end of the ride, we can walk you through what beers to drink when you join us at Camp Carpe Diem.

Not sure what beer is what? Check out this handy dandy cheat sheet.

If you’re drinking during your ride because you and your friends are out on a little biking brewery tour, similar approach applies. You probably aren’t going to be faced with the same obstacles as you would on a legit MTB trail and you’re likely going much slower, but don’t get all buzzed up and bike. Again, water is your friend, and believe it or not, it helps stave off alcohol induced headaches.

Drinking post-ride, all bets are off, right? Well, mostly. Just be sure that if you are going to get your drink on, someone else (who is sober) is giving you a ride. You’ll likely get a buzz much faster than normal. If you just came off the trail or a sustained effort, remember, you are likely a bit dehydrated (or a lot if you sweat like I do), so be sure you are downing water first and foremost and not counting on that Russian Imperial Stout to fill your veins. Again, water is like magic in its ability to help stave off alcohol-induced headaches.

Denver Pale Ale from Great Divide balanced near a bike in Denver Colorado
A lighter beer is usually your best bet.

Basically, just match your drinking to your activity. If it’s a serious ride, you probably shouldn’t be drinking at all. If it’s more casual, not as big of a deal, but you still need to be smart about it. Remember, you are driving a vehicle. You are responsible to keep yourself safe, as well as those around you. No craft beer or other adult beverage is worth endangering you or those around you.

The Biking Brewery Tour

Like beercations, a biking tour of breweries is becoming more and more of a thing, as the brewery population explodes across America.

There are many ways to do this. There are organized rides that gather bikers together and others that have bikes available, then a guide helps you navigate from brewery to brewery. This is often a good way to go, as they try to space things out so that you’re not downing 4 or 5 beers per stop. Plus, you’re accountable to those around you and less likely to overdo it.

Of course, you can always put together a self-organized brewery tour with your biking buddies. Or join us at Camp Carpe Diem. Then we’ll do the organizing for you. All you have to do is show up.

JJ, Scott, Ken, and Ape on their mountain bikes posing for a picture
Touring with friends is always a great thing!

Weather / Climate is a Beer-Biking Factor

This last tip kind of counts for craft beer drinking in general. While there are those of us that want a 15% Triple Barrel-Aged Belgian Quad any time of the year, it doesn’t generally pair all that well with a 100-degree heat and 90-percent humidity. It certainly doesn’t pair well with riding a bike in such weather.

If you’re tearing up a rough ride, you’ll generally want to drink on the lighter side, probably even so after the ride is over. But even if you’re just cruising around with your pals, if it’s a hot, humid day, you might want to re-think downing a flight of six varieties of boozy stouts and quads. To each his own, but the weather matters.

Kenny and April at the end of the trail in the snow at Lost Creek State Park
This ride – once completed – was definitely one that warranted a big boozy beer around a fire pit.

Of course, it’s easy to still choose a dank IPA or a sour gose on a cold and rainy day, the same as one that is sunshine filled. But there’s something about sitting around a fire pit, a chill in the air, with a big boozy beer that does a body good. And there will be plenty of campfire time at Camp Carpe Diem.

Oskar Blues Bamburana can big boozy beer
Such a good beer after a chilly bike ride; however, drink the H20 first. This one’s BIG!

Make it a Fun, Repeatable Adventure

I know I’m repeating myself a bit here, but use common sense, and make it a fun adventure, not your final adventure. There is always more great beer being made, but there isn’t ever again going to be another you. So enjoy every second, but make sure there are more seconds to enjoy.

Meet Your MTB Camp Hosts

We are Ken and April of Living a Stout Life, and we love mountain biking, craft beer, travel, and making new friends. When we moved into our RV almost three years ago, we thought we’d be on our own when traveling.

Ken and April mountain biking Pisgah National Forest North Carolina
Biking in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina

Not a chance. We now have a tribe of fellow travelers. Some like the same things we do, some do not. But all of us like each other, and we love the freedom of traveling.

We want to bring that to you through Camp Carpe Diem. It’s why we teamed up with our friends at The Virtual Campground (TVC). We found each other on the road, and we want to help you find your tribe and explore interests to keep you excited about this wonderful world we live in.

Debra Barry April Ken TVC peeps
Your Camp Hosts: Ken, April, Debra, Barry


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4 years ago

Great article. We need to get with you about bikes.Teresa and I are thinking of getting rid of our cruiser bikes and getting some mountain bikes and need expert advise and insight. We are clueless onounrain bikes.

4 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Call us anytime. You don’t need anything fancy to start. While we love mountain biking, we don’t have the most expensive equipment and we get up and down the mountain just fine.