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I think that at some point in most people’s drinking careers, they look up from their phones for a second at the bar they’ve been drinking at forever and realize they need a change of scenery. I don’t think that familiarity necessarily breeds contempt, but when you’ve been ordering the same drink from the same person at the same place for longer than you’d care to admit, you probably need to expand your horizons. One way to do that is move to another city, but if that sounds a little annoying, I suggest a pub crawl. Or, in the case of Cowtown Cycle Party, a pub pedal.

Last Thursday, I went with two friends to this garage on Calhoun Street, where about a dozen people were excitedly filling out waivers in front of a mostly wooden vehicle that was equal parts open-air trolley and mobile party. A wooden bar top formed the body of the human-powered car, under which, on either side, were six bicycle seats and pedals, with a seat in front for the driver and a narrow space in between for whoever is handing out beers — I think the total capacity is 16 people, not counting the driver and bartender. The booze jockey distributes the BYOB cans (glass bottles are not allowed) that the passengers have brought with them, and there’s a handy cup holder in front of each seat.

After a bit of instruction (primarily having to do with safety, pedaling when you’re supposed to, and taking a drink when the contraption comes to a red light), you’re off on a fun two-hour adventure to various downtown nightspots. We stopped at Houston Street Pub, T&P Tavern, Paddy Red’s Irish Pub, and Frankie’s Sports Bar. You get about 15 minutes at each stop, which is enough time to drink a round or two and/or take a leak if you’ve broken the seal.

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My friends and I went through most of a 12-pack of Yellowbellies in transit, and I know I had at least one shot at every stop, so you can imagine how the Cowtown Cycle Party offers the potential for a wicked hangover. If you intend to power-drink while you pedal, do yourself a favor and eat something beforehand. I skipped dinner and made an ass of myself later when all of those pit-stop shots came back to haunt me. I heaved up my guts in front of some nice people I’d just met.

Cowtown Cycle Party does not encourage puking but does heartily endorse making friends. Our ride was one of the company’s Make New Friends mixers. Because I got so haggard, I don’t remember anyone’s name, but I met a lot of fun people, including a couple celebrating their engagement with some buddies. The bride-to-be happily took over tending bar, and she showed off some pretty sweet dance moves after the guy sitting catty-corner to me plugged some house music into the car’s sound system — there’s a handy input cable for your music-listening pleasure, but if you want to dee-jay, you’d better be good at guessing what everyone wants to hear. I thought it would be awesome to hear The Scorpions’ “Big City Nights,” but I could tell everyone was glad when it was over.

While I’d been to every bar on the Cycle Party’s circuit, drinking beer in the open air while exercising –– and, believe me, the pedaling is a bit of a workout, especially when you look down at the other pairs of feet and find some that aren’t doing any work –– was a nice break from sitting in my usual watering holes, playing around on my phone. If you’re sick of sucking in second-hand cigarette smoke in bars, the Cowtown Cycle Party is a great alternative. To book a spot, call 682-42-CYCLE or go to Cowtowncycleparty.com. –– Steve Steward

 

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