The Outside Blog

Adventure : Apr 2012

Over The Bar Bicycle Café

Best for: Bike fiends and peanut butter junkies
The folks at OTB Bicycle Café are crazy about bikes. At this sunny little neighborhood joint in central Pittsburgh, there are bike murals, sculptures from reclaimed bikes, bike maps on the walls, and bike-themed dishes. (For those obsessed with protein, might we suggest the Dirt Rag Delight, a peanut butter-smothered burger.) Even the toilet paper dispensers are constructed from stray bike parts. Located just a block from the South Side Works trailhead to the Great Allegheny Passage, a trail that stretches from Pittsburgh to the nation’s capital, the racks outside OTB are always overflowing with bikes. The draw (PB & beef notwithstanding) is the 70-some bottled beers and eight beers on tap. If you want a tour from the locals, Major Taylor Cycling Club rides leave from the bar each Wednesday and OTB sponsors semi-annual charitable rides to and from a local brewery—kegs in tow, naturally.

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The Velo Fellow

Best for: Cyclists with a sense of history
This place would have gotten our nod based on the clever name alone, but when we found out that the centerpiece of its décor is a penny-farthing (you know, the old-timey bikes with massive front wheels and little bitty rear ones), we bumped it up on our list. Created as an homage to the British public house tradition, local drinking spots that often serve as the focal point of a community, the Velo Fellow is a classy-but-easygoing pub with archival B&W cycling images on the walls and a cozy brick, wood, and leather interior that makes you crave a pint of stout. Nobody would laugh if you wore your kit here, but the expected attire is post-ride woolies. Order up some fish and chips and an Alagash Black Belgian Pilsner, and wile away the evening listening to live jams.

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Hotel du Commerce

Best for: Belgian beer aficionados and fans of the Ardennes Classics
If you judge an establishment by its clientele, Hotel du Commerce, in Houffalize, Belgium, might just be the best Biker’s Bar on the planet. The world’s top mountain bikers fill the place up during the World Cup race held here every April (April 14 and 15, 2012). Two hours south of Brussels, there’s nothing bike-themed about this place. It’s just a classic Euro-style café and bar serving great Belgian ales to very fast racers. Two local options are La Chouffe Blonde and McChouffe Brun, both brewed at the Brasserie d’Achouffe, just a few miles down the road. It’s also a great spot to watch the spring classics alongside hundreds of rabid Belgian cycling fanatics, especially Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which passes through Houffalize. Start the race at the bar, sprint outside to see the peloton pass by, and then belly up for more live coverage on TV.

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BeerBikes

Best for: Drinking and riding
We realize that it’s tourist kitsch, but we just can’t resist a bar that’s built into a bicycle. Or is it a bicycle that's built into a bar? This pedal-powered establishment measures five feet across and seats you and 16 of your biking buddies—it’s a perfect set up for those who want to hammer beer and the pavement all at once. For 425 Euros ($567), you get the use of this crazy vehicle plus 30 liters of beer (that’s just under 64 pints). With 17 passengers, that comes to only 3ish beers apiece, but don’t get tempted to bring fewer friends to make it last as you have just two hours to polish it all off. At least with all the exertion of pedaling, you shouldn’t be too schnockered when you arrive at your destination. Bonus: 50 Euro discounts on Sundays—God bless the Euros for being so pious.

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Caffé Terry

Best for: Globetrotters and industry insiders
Whether you know it or not, the carbon bike you’re riding almost certainly comes from Taiwan. The vast majority of carbon frames in the world are built there, which means lots of cycling types spend lots of time on this small island off the coast of east coast of China. Run by local racer and custom bike builder, Terry Lin, Caffé Terry (tel: 04-23207243; Tues.-Sun: 10 a.m.-midnight) is the cultural center for both pre-ride caffeine and post-ride carousing among local cyclists and expatriates alike. Saddle up to the bar and order a Taiwan Beer.

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