Pedal City Unpacked

Ten people pedal down Main Street slowly on a pub bike, chairs and pedals groaning after constantly hitting bumps and potholes.

 “Hey you, in the street,” one of the riders says as he drinks a Miller Lite. “You should jump on and help us pedal to go faster.”

Loud music plays, the group chants, and car honks echo down the street.

Janelle Ford, owner of Pedal City, says the business offers both pedaling and drinking, while touring downtown. Pedal City stays open all year. There are bookings in December and January for the pub bikes.

“When I first saw them on YouTube, there was people in the snow in Minnesota,” Janelle says. “They were working up a sweat when they were riding the bike. Right now, it kind of slowed down. I’m like, ‘This is the perfect weather for people to be on those bikes instead of when it’s a hundred degrees out.’”

The pub bike makes various stops at downtown bars depending on where the group wants to go, including Henry’s and JK O’Donnell’s. Tonight’s group even brought their own cooler of alcohol.

The pedal pub bike started in 2013. Then Janelle says she wanted a big, active outdoor area, so she opened a standalone bar in 2015. It offers ping-pong, corn-hole, basketball, and board games.

Janelle says there are different events that happen every week. There are evenings specifically for belly dancing, live music, business meetings, or doggy-date night.

Janelle owns four pub bikes that only two have electric motors to assist with pedaling. Each one can hold up to 14 people, but it only takes 10 to do the work.

The idea is for adults to drink and have fun without having to worry about drunk driving. But she says, sometimes, the pub bike without the motor becomes difficult for people to pedal.

“I would have never bought these if I had known,” Janelle says, “but I didn’t know up front, you know?”

According to the PedalPub website, the first party bike, actually started in Minnesota in April 2007. The idea originated from Het Fietscafé from the Netherlands, known for its beer bikes and pedaling parties.

Andi Jo, a customer of Pedal City from Fort Wayne, says she loved the idea since the start, and her first experience was with a bachelorette party. It was tough at first, due to all the girls being in dresses, but since, Andi has been on the pub bike multiple times.

“This has always been an experience that made me feel like we were all on the same team with the same goal,” Andi says, “and success is a morale booster, even if that means just completing the trip, without having to have someone tow us back.”

Andi says she first saw pedal bikes in Indianapolis, with The Handle Bar, and in Chicago, the PedalPub.

One of the drivers for the pub bikes, Moises Uribe, says he loves the people he meets. Moises enjoys jamming out to music and chatting with them.

Moises says a highly intoxicated woman once jumped off while it was moving, and there was a car coming in the opposite direction.

“Good thing the driver of that car saw them, with plenty of time and distance, so they were able to stop,” Moises says. “But yeah, she fell right in front of them.”

Moises says she wasn’t hurt at all or mad. She continued her night.

But not everyone is on board.

A Facebook page called “I HATE the Pedal Pub” was created to make an awareness that all pub bikes should be banned due to accidents, overpricing, and noise complaints.

But Andi says this activity can actually bring adults with similar interests together, and it isn’t just about the bikes, or the drinks.

“It’s really a friendly space that allows for a casual, fun, easy going, and interactive experience,” Andi says.

With “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey blasting, and everyone singing along, the group makes its last stop at Henry’s to take shots.

“I told you so,” Moises says. “Everyone loves Journey.”