There’s nothing greater than just getting on the bike, letting your mind run free and getting lost in yourself but sometimes getting together with a group of like minded people on two wheels for a relaxed social ride is just what the doctor ordered. Joining the Cycle Birmingham Rides & Socials group was the best thing I have ever done. Learning new cycling routes has changed my day to day cycling experience not to mention the fun we’ve had, amazing social rides to great venues with an amazing bunch of local cyclists. What can be better than a group of adults playing out on their bikes with the promise of a good beer and great banter/cycle chat at the end of the night.
After being part of the group for a while I was excited to start taking the helm every now and then as guest ride leader. Being known as the groups crazy mountain biker and lover of bumps or steps. I enjoy taking the others, a mixture of road, hybrid and Brompton bikes out for a REAL ride full of off road fun and adventure while trying to share the great craft beer scene that we have here in Brum. On this ride I chose a route for the group to see Birmingham through the eyes of a mountain biker in a city. Mostly off road the route took us from Cannon Hill Park onto the Rea Valley route finding a gap in the trees into Holders Wood and then onto the canal and part of the Cole valley route, this was just the beginning.
I could here the group making noises as we hopped on and off a few dirt tracks, I like to think these were noises of excitement… they hadn’t seen anything yet! As we passed Sarehole Mill we were approaching what I like to call the river splash! This would sort the real cyclist from the amateurs… I am so happy lots of the group got stuck in and had some fun sending it through the river. You are never to old for some fun on a bike.
We then turned onto the road section as we cycled towards Fox Hollies Park, a great little park if you want to try some cycle cross. Part of the group followed me through the trees and up and over the small hills on the grass, the others followed the path round and we met at the other end of the park. From here there were a few rights and lefts as we headed for Olton Jubilee Park and the PUMP TRACK… My go to place when I can’t get out to any mountain bike trails. Right on our door step it’s great for an urban off road ride whether you are on a mountain bike or BMX. At 14miles this route was a little longer than the usual Wednesday rides and I had not anticipated the darker nights had started to draw in so it had got a little dark but introducing the group to my kind of riding was good fun. Judging by the smiles on their faces everyone was enjoying themselves and seeing a Brompton roll around the pump track was just hilarious! We definitely gave the local BMX crew something to laugh about.
After a decent ride we were all ready to hit the pub, I had spoken to Brendon down at The Bottle Shed in Acocks Green and they were opening up especially for us. (Normal open times are Thursday – Sunday). A little later than expected we all rolled up ready to quench our thirst with some decent craft beer.
The gang down at The Bottle Shed have done a really good job in bringing a great selection of bottled craft beer to Birmingham stocking over 300 bottles of the best craft beer available along with 7 constantly rotating keg beers on tap. We were spoilt for choice and some of the group who were not really into craft beer were a bit overwhelmed but with excellent recommendations from Brendon we all enjoyed a well earned beer at the end of the night. A few of us even took advantage of our pannier bags buying a few bottles to take away. I grabbed a couple of my favourites from Fixed wheel Brewery. A can of Beaver Town’s Bloody Ell, Orange IPA also went down very nicely after the ride. Some fruity, hoppy goodness was just what I needed after leading the ride.
A trip down to The Bottle Shed is always well worth it not only for the great beer selection but also for a good night with some good company in this little gem of a pub/bottle shop. Attached onto The Inn on the Green, The Bottle Shed has its own entrance and bar, the tap room is a quirky little place with a great atmosphere along with a fire to snuggle up with a beer on a cold night. Ticking all the boxes for me it also has retro arcade machines and an outdoor decked area, ideal for the bikes and warmer days/nights. They have it spot on and this place is definitely one of my top 5 bars in brum.
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