Bikes and Brews The perfect combo at Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center
By John Gales
Bikes and Brews
The perfect combo at Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center
By Corey Burdick
While summer may be waning, there is still plenty of time to jump on your mountain bike and explore Vermont’s autumn landscape. If reveling in the foliage via bike isn’t enticing enough, how about a guided brewery tour afterward? That’s one of the package deals you can sign up for at the Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center.
The mountain-bike program and brew tours are the brainchild of Rick Sokoloff, a certified mountain-bike instructor who has spent his career pursuing and sharing his passion for the sport with the greater Central Vermont community.
A Great Partnership
Rick spent more than twelve years as the cofounder and president of the Stowe Mountain Bike Club before leaving to teach mountain biking at Smugglers Notch Resort. There, he set up a mountain-bike training program and through that process realized how much training was actually needed to instruct people in mountain biking. So, he began the certification process and has now been teaching for five years.
While he has conducted numerous bike clinics on the grounds of Trapp Family Lodge over that time, this year Trapp’s Outdoor Center made the partnership official. The contract with Rick means that, in addition to his running the business of the Center, the resort uses Rick and his instructors’ services exclusively rather than hiring their own. Rick admits that it took some cajoling to be allowed to mountain bike on the trails surrounding the property, but after presenting a convincing case that showed how the activity could be done in an environmentally responsible way, the agreement was solidified.
An Attractive Venture
A couple of years into running the bike clinics on the Trapp grounds, a friend pitched the idea that Rick secure a 12-passenger van and conduct local brewery tours in conjunction with the clinics. The idea immediately took hold and received an incredible guest response. The brew tours, now in their third year, can be combined with mountain biking for a full day, or people can simply opt to learn more about the region’s award-winning breweries via tours and tastings.
For those who opt for the combination of the brew tour and biking, mountain biking takes place in the morning when Rick picks guests up from hotels in the Stowe area and takes them to the grassy field in front of Trapp Family Resort to ensure that they’re comfortable with techniques before hitting the trails.
After the biking portion of the day, guests have time to make a quick clothing change and then it’s off to lunch either at Trapp Family Lodge or Idletyme Brewing. Then the van begins its journey to five different breweries in the region. The tour includes flights or tastes of each brewery’s offerings, appetizers, and a meet and greet with brewery staff.
In Stowe, the tour makes stops at the Alchemist and Idletyme as well as Stowe Cider. Rock Art and Lost Nation are visited in nearby Morrisville, and upon request, Rick will make the trek out to Hill Farmstead.
The tours can be booked as a group event such as a corporate outing or even for an unconventional bachelor or bachelorette party, as Rick noted occurred recently and was a great success. While he can accommodate 40 people maximum on two buses, he notes that lower numbers (five to ten people) are ideal to make sure everyone receives the full experience at each brewery. TripAdvisor shows impressive and, in Rick’s word, “humbling” reviews.
The cost of a two-hour mountain bike session with an instructor (one on one) is $125, but if there’s a group of three or more individuals, the cost goes down to $75 per person. Bike rentals are additional. The brew tour without the biking costs $99 per person, but when combined with the three-hour mountain-bike training/riding and lunch, the cost is $199 per person.