How to Organize a Bike Ride + Coffee Crawl During a Pandemic

Get your friends together for a socially distanced ride while supporting local cafés.


Cover photo by Roman Bozhko

Coffee and bikes just make sense together. Maybe it’s the mutual respect the cultures have for the other; both coffee lovers and bike gear heads appreciate the technical side of their industries, and caffeine is a much-loved performance enhancer that cyclists love. The coffee world has returned the admiration—there’s a rich history of relationships between coffee companies and competitive cycling teams, European bicycle-themed cafés like the historic Le Vélocipède, and the combo café and bike shops that started popping up in the mid-1990s.

While there are still some dry days ahead, text your friends who ride and organize a group bike and coffee crawl. It’s a great way to have a socially distanced group event, get some outdoor adventures before the rain kicks in, and support your local cafés. If you’re in a warmer year-round climate, even better! Perhaps you can end the ride at your favorite brewery for takeaway drinks. Here are five tips for organizing your group ride and coffee crawl. 

Having a group bike ride is the perfect way to host a socially distant hangout. Photo by Jasoer Garratt for Unsplash.

1. Who’s going to ride? Keep your group to five or fewer cyclists, as per COVID-19 guidelines for groups. Depending on who’s riding, you can determine the length and challenge of the ride, as well as find a starting place that’s easy for everyone to get to. This might be the perfect time to reach out to a friend you haven’t seen in a while and invite them out for a ride.

2. Get organized. The planning phase will take the most time to figure out, so setting the ride date even a week or two in advance will give everyone time to hash out the details in a group text thread. What day works for everyone? Will it be a morning or afternoon ride? Will there be a strict route decided beforehand, or will it be more of a free-flowing exploration in a certain part of town? As a general rule, more structure is helpful with more cyclists. From Seattle-based barista Luna Petrin’s experiences with group rides, they say, “I would recommend trying to pick two or three locations that have an obvious or more straightforward route so you don’t have to worry about directions as much. And whenever possible, try and go for the scenic route!”

3. Choose your cafés. Independent cafés have been hit hard during the pandemic, and now’s a good time to show them some love, especially to marginally owned shops in your area. Know of a café in your town that launched a GoFundMe to keep afloat? Make a point to bring your socially distant crew there, and tip well. What are the BIPOC, LGBTQ+, or women-owned shops in your area? Add those to your ride. “Check ahead for the café’s hours of operation,” Luna says. “Open hours, and even days, are all over the place right now. Some places are open seven days a week for most of the day, while other places are only open a few days a week.” 

4. Enjoy the ride. It’s a group ride, not a group race. Go at a pace everyone can maintain, and make sure no one gets left behind. At least one person should have a patch kit or extra bike tubes just in case. It’s a good idea to know someone who has a bike rack and a car who could come pick someone up in the event of an emergency. Bring water, hand sanitizer, and snacks. 

5. Wear a mask! Sure, you’ll be outside and socially distant, but group rides mean talking and heavy breathing, so wear a mask. Figure out what mask you feel most comfortable with, and go on practice rides with it before the group ride. Check out a great sampling of masks made for athletes here. Before the ride, don’t be afraid to ask about each other’s risk levels, if anyone’s been exposed to a sick person, or if they’ve been tested for COVID-19 recently. People’s risks and practices shouldn’t be assumed. It’s always a good idea to ask.

Additional thanks to Conor Poull for help with this article.

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Mark Van Streefkerk
is Barista Magazine’s social media content developer and a frequent contributor. He is also a freelance writer, social media manager, and novelist based out of Seattle. If Mark isn’t writing, he’s probably biking to his favorite vegan restaurant. Find out more on his website.