Bikes and beer are great individually, but having them simultaneously is a must, especially during day-long rides or week-long summer tours. Heather Mroz, a 12-year RAGBRAI veteran and member of Team SKA (Self-Kontained Alcoholics), suggests seven ways to transport your brew – and keep it cold – on your bike.
One to Four Beers
Insulated small panniers, such as Stone Cold Outdoor’s bicycle cooler bag, are the most obvious solution to keeping your brews at a drinkable temperature. Pros: waterproof, well insulated, easily accessible via handlebars or rear rack. Cons: Just the right size for one person (what fun is drinking alone?).
Five to 12 Beers
Ziploc bags in large rear panniers. Fill bags—like the Back Roller Classics by Ortlieb—with ice and beer. Pros: cheap, easy, disposable. Cons: The plastic bags don’t insulate well on really hot days. Can sweat and leak.
Insulated trunk. A soft cooler, such as the Hunchback Rack Trunk by Timbuk2, sits atop your rear rack and can be filled with ice and a 12-pack. Pro: still useful when not used for beer. Con: May leak into your rear panniers.
13 to 24 Beers
Small coolers strapped to front and rear racks. Divide a case between two 9-quart hard coolers, like Igloo’s Island Breeze models. Use net bungees to secure them to your bike. Pros: Good insulation. Cons: hard to access if bungee cords go over lid.
Small coolers in grocery panniers. Many small coolers fit perfectly into grocery panniers, which are open at the top. Make sure to drink equally from each side to avoid balance issues. Pros: No bungees necessary, easily accessible – even on the go. Cons: Tops of coolers may pop open over rough terrain.
25 to 80 Beers
Large hard cooler in a trailer. Just bungee it on and start pedaling. Pros: You likely already own the cooler, and a BOB is always handy to have around. Good insulation. Toss the empties inside. Cons: Lots of space for your friends to stash their beer; expect a heavy load. Hard to access with bungee cords across the lid.
Pony keg in a BOB trailer. Set the barrel on bags of ice, and bungee a couple more bags around the sides and top. Strap carpet samples over the ice for insulation. Remember to bring cups. Pros: plenty of beer for everyone (approximately 80 12-ounce servings). Cons: depending on your terrain, 90 pounds of beer sloshing around can create balance issues on your bike. It can also create flat beer, which means you should drink really fast (maybe this is a pro?).
More Than 80 Beers
Any combination of the above, although if you fall into this category, our guess is that you’ll be doing more drinking than cycling. Good luck.