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Medford's Pint Rider will offer pedal pub tour

A new way to visit Medford breweries, pubs and drinking establishments will hit the streets this summer.

The Pint Rider's cycling machine, a Cycle Pub built in Bend, will ferry groups of up to 15 people on custom two-hour tours.

"When you rent the bike, we provide the driver, and your group provides the power," Pint Rider owner Nathan Olsen said.

Olsen is a regional marketing communications manager for Lithia Motors and a member of the Southern Oregon Running Enthusiasts. The Pint Rider brings his expertise and his passion for an active lifestyle together.

Olsen began exploring the possibilities a year and a half ago while serving in the designated driver role on a wine tour.

It worked elsewhere, he reasoned, why not here?

"I'm trying to get the whole brewery community to embrace it," Olsen said. "I want more options for downtown Medford, so that people don't have to go to the coast or Ashland to have a good time."

The Suburban-sized Cycle Pub is equipped with 10 pedaling stations, two nonpedaling spots and a rumble seat. There's no drinking on board, and containers must be stashed in the cooler.

Cycle Pubs cruise at 8 to 10 mph, so there are certain streets the Pint Rider tour will generally avoid, such as Crater Lake Avenue and most of Riverside and Central avenues.

"We'll cross those streets, rather than go on them," he said. "If we can go on four-lane roads, where we can stay to the side or two-lane streets, where we can pull to the side, that's what we want so people won't disrupt traffic."

The cost for a two-hour tour is $300. Spread across 15 people, that's $20 per person.

Routes will be customized to the clients' preference. The first two-hour run will begin at 11 a.m., and the evening trip will leave at 6:30 p.m. and return at 8:30.

"We want to be as safe as possible," Olsen said. "So we won't be operating later."

Just as Olsen picked up on the idea from his travels, Cycle Pub owner James Watts saw opportunity roll before his eyes on a visit to Germany in early 2011. His fabrication base is located in downtown Bend.

"I thought it would be a great fit for Bend," Watts said. "I built the first bike, and people kept calling me to build something for their hometown."

Besides Bend, Cycle Pubs are on the streets of Corvallis, Eugene and Portland, with Medford to soon join the club.

In five years, Watts has built and shipped Cycle Pubs from coast to coast, as well as Canada and Mexico. The most recent model was sent to Bozeman, Mont. Olsen's cycle will be the 35th off the production line. The Cycle Pubs sell for close to $50,000. There are a couple of manufacturers in Europe, Watts said, and an American importer.

"The size and shape are similar, but I think we've raised the bar substantially and improved it aesthetically," Watts said.

At present, the Pint Rider plan is to park the Cycle Pub at Growler King in east Medford. The Rogue Growler on Highland Drive, farther to the east, is a likely stop, along with close to a dozen spots in the downtown area. Southern Oregon Brewing Co. might be a stretch because much of the time would be spent in transit, Olsen said.

"It's an opportunity to grow the market and get people out there," said Jake Miller, who operates Growler King on East Jackson Street. "Especially during the nice months, people can get a pint and then pedal around town, eat some food and get another pint. People travel here to try wine, and I think Medford is becoming a beer destination, as well. If you're here for a day, the Pint Rider would be a great way to do it."

Olsen plans to be on hand for festivals and special events but doesn't anticipate wine tours or trips to Jacksonville.

"The wineries are too spread out," he said. "Realistically, you don't want to be on the road when cars are going 45 or 50 (mph) around the corner."

No one has to drink to make the trip, but anyone planning to drink will have their ID checked before departure. Per the insurance agreement, everyone is offered a bike helmet, and anyone under 16 must wear one. You have to be 18 to pedal. As a result, Olsen said, most group outings will be for people older than 21.

Olsen is seeking Pint Rider drivers, 25 and older, who will pilot the people-powered vehicle.

Olsen's bike is due for delivery Memorial Day weekend, with tours commencing during Medford Beer Week June 2-10.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

The Pint Rider in Medford will use a Cycle Pub similar to this one built in Bend. Submitted photo