The Secret Ingredient is SWEAT: The Chain Reaction Fresh Hops Bike Relay

A sunny start at Fais Do-Do Farm.

A sunny start at Fais Do-Do Farm.

Typically, I would count any weekend including an Olympic triathlon as a success. However, my weekend of mayhem did not end with the finish of the Garden City Triathlon (race report coming soon) this past Saturday. No, my bike seat barely got cool again before it was time to saddle back up for some more miles. Fortunately though, instead of swimming, cycling, and running; part 2 of my epic weekend only involved bikes, beer, and hops. It was time for the Chain Reaction Fresh Hops Relay.

I know what you’re saying. “Time for the what? Grab a beer while I explain this adventure. It’s harvest season for hops in Montana, and all the local breweries are bringing in the fresh green goodness to make some beer nirvana. In honor of this event, Draught Works Brewery held its second annual hop relay between the hop growing farm in Corvallis and their brewery 50 miles away in downtown Missoula. They then use the hops to make the Chain Reactions Fresh Hop Ale. 10 teams, each consisting of four riders, race to get to the brewery first while carrying an eight pound bag of hops in a burlap bag on their back. The main rules are:

  • Each rider must do a segment of the 4 part relay carrying the bag of hops.
  • Be safe.

You can ride as a group and draft (I mean, the event is sponsored by “Draught Works” after all). Of course, the risk of doing so is that you could tire out your team members early.

So let the adventures begin! When I got up the morning of the relay, it was about the exact opposite of the day before: DOWNPOUR. And it didn’t stop raining until we were almost out to the start line in Corvallis. After picking up our hops supply, we quickly saddled up and hit the road. Our first rider, Sonja, did a great job starting things up. Here she is cruising with the number 70 on.

After about a good 12 miles, it was my turn to pay homage to Ninkasi. I donned the bag and headed out with our fastest rider, MP, to make some gains. With my legs shot from racing the day prior, keeping up with him turned my leisurely relay day into a nightmare that would make Jens Voigt proud. (SHUT UP KEGS!)  On top of that, it decided to downpour. The only saving grace was that my section was a short 12 miles, and the damp bag of hops on my back smelled pretty good.

Just practicing for the finish...

Just practicing for the finish…

Once we hit Florence, MT, it was time to switch over. That looked like this:

That’s when MP stopped having to wait up for me and took off like a blown keg. Me? It was time for some R&R in the car. And no, there wasn’t any beer in there (dont drink and drive!). Just very smelly riders. MP managed to catapult our team all the way from 3rd to first place, all be it with small gap, as we headed into the last leg of the relay. But while glory of an entire take home keg (the prize for the winning team) was briefly glimpsed, it was not our day to hold out against the roadie surge.

But it didn’t matter: the clouds disappeared and the sun drenched roads of Montana made for some beautiful riding.

After just a few more miles, we took it home to the brewery for the hoppiest finishes I’ve ever experienced.

We came in at fifth place but I dont really care. We got to enjoy a great day of riding and a complimentary growler full of beer. To top things off, I even had a chance to grind some grain with a bike trainer…..I can’t think of anything more perfect for this Trainer Road – Home Brew addict.

Grinding some malt.

Grinding some malt.

The Chain Reaction Fresh Hops Relay is truly one of those unique events that I won’t ever forget. Anyone who likes bikes and beer (so pretty much everyone reading this) should think about entering next year. Unless you are really fast. In that case it’s really not for you ;). Thanks to the great crew at Draught Works Brewery for setting up this fun event!

About Ironvan

From couch potato to Ironman triathlete in 2 years.

Posted on September 10, 2013, in Gigs, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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