It’s officially summer. The solstice has already come and gone and my is it flying by quickly! Last Thursday was the annual New Belgium Clips & Beer Tour stop here in Madison, WI.
The setup for this event is absolutely incredible. The backdrop is Madison’s lakefront at dusk, with a beautiful sunset. If that wasn’t enough, you also get a view of the Madison skyline at night with the Monona Terrace and Capitol Building glowing in all their glory.
Olin Park plays host to the event and is quite the destination for tourists and Madisonians alike. A perfect venue for an outdoor movie viewing.
When we arrived there was a HUGE bike corral set up for the bike valet with volunteers at the ready. A free service provided by B Cycles, the Bike Fed, and Saris. Once the rides were parked safe and sound, we then headed towards the token/wristband area. Each attendee who was going to be drinking got carded, wristbanded (not a real word), and sold tokens. $5 for 4 tokens got you either 4 3oz pours or 1 12oz pour.
Since the beer line was already starting to get long a half hour before the event was even supposed to start, we opted beer first. The service was fairly quick and the staff seemed have a good idea of what each beer’s qualities and flavors were. New Belgium also supplies all attendees with a handy little notebook with descriptions of the beers as well as a pencil to jot down notes, should a brew strike your fancy.
After beer, food was a definite necessity. The two options were Salvatore’s (renowned for their excellent tomato pies) and the Good Food Cart. We were a little let down that Sal’s wasn’t serving up pizza, but sandwiches instead. I opted for a turkey club wrap from Good Food and Keri went with the Italian Sausage sammie from Sal’s. Neither of us were disappointed with our choices.
After about an hour, the crowd really started rolling in. Lots of folks were excited to be outside and not having to deal with the rain. There were lots of cute dogs and a lot of familiar faces in the crowd.
Once the sun finally settled behind the Olin tree line, the shorts started. All of them were really awesome and there was one in particular from Madison that everyone LOVED. It even got voted the favorite for our tour stop! The feedback we got from people was all really positive and people really look forward to the event every summer it takes place.
My only gripe was that the volunteers weren’t allowed to drink at the event. Understandable, but also a little silly since it doesn’t take much to pick up garbage or park a bike. We were told that New Belgium had that policy, not the Bike Fed. Best to keep that in mind for next year!
Once the event started winding down, we decided to head out. Bike Valet was swamped so I decided to give them a hand as I’m a seasoned pro because of Concerts on the Square (happening tonight and every Wednesday for the next 5-6 weeks!). The ride home was nice and there were groups of cyclists heading to different parts of the city. They all eventually split off from one another depending on which neighborhood they were in.
The event was amazing and as you can see from the graphic above, the Bike Fed did a stellar job at raising money and getting people out to the event. They even set a record of the number of bikes parked at the event…1,000 bikes out of 1,800 attendees. That’s amazing. I had assumed that about 90% of people rode their bikes based off of the amount that were parked, but it looks like I was off. It was closer to 60%, but that’s still amazing!
Madison is a wonderful city to play host to such an event. New Belgium has been good to us over the years and even though they come from Colorado, Wisconsin treats them like they are our own. Our hope is that this event continues in the coming years and that it only gets bigger. We were told the tour grew from 12 stops to close to 30-40 this year! It goes to show that more states are taking the initiative to host cycling friendly events. Super awesome 🙂
Check out some photos below as well as our video to get an idea of what the event was like if you couldn’t make it!