On the road, bicycling is a solo sport. But cyclists are often social animals. Maybe you’re a hardcore athlete who ascends mountains at the crack of dawn. Or perhaps you prefer an occasional jaunt on the canal trail. At the end of the day, lots of cyclists love to meet up, brag about their exploits, and gab about gear.
The Phoenix cycling community is bigger and more connected than ever, and quite a few local venues are designed to celebrate the bicycling life. Sometimes it’s a bike shop that sells snacks. Other times it’s a pub full of two-wheeled tchotchkes. Here are some of our favorite social spots for area cyclists.
Boulders on Broadway
The name “Boulders” refers to giant slabs of stone, but this establishment loves its climbers and cyclists equally. On a busy day, the outdoor patio is piled with bikes, and vintage bicycle sculptures beckon new customers. There’s an entire wall made of rocks (get it?) and bike-themed decorations are everywhere. But this place is the real deal: When cyclists are done careening through the street of Tempe or surmounting South Mountain, this is where they cavort. If Boulders’ long row of beer taps seems daunting, don’t worry: The daylong happy hour on Saturdays will give you plenty of time to try them. Boulders is a little off the beaten path, but Mill Avenue is just a quick ride away.
With its specialized work benches and piles of tools and parts, Bike Saviours can resuscitate a bike in almost any condition. But the all-volunteer organization doesn’t want to repair it for you – they want you to learn how to pimp your own ride. Of all the places in Maricopa County, Bike Saviours is where “talking shop” is taken most seriously. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can learn how to build a bike from scratch. Bonus: Tempe group rides often use Bike Saviours as a rendezvous point.
First and foremost, The Handlebar is known as a meaty, beery gastropub, full of frothy craft brews and superlative grilled cheese sandwiches. But a five-seat tandem bicycle hangs above the bar, and the beer garden is proudly “bike-friendly.” More than anything, the Handlebar celebrates the bicycle’s vintage aesthetic – antique photographs show bikers careening down Edwardian streets, and even the menu holders are designed to look like “boneshaker” wheels. Cycling is a good thing to celebrate in downtown Tempe, where nearly every major street has a well-marked bike lane and racks are everywhere. Handlebar takes this accessibility one step further by giving guests hooks for hanging their bikes.
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Spokes on Southern
Like Handlebar, Spokes is primarily a pub and restaurant, but these folks take their bicycling seriously. Their Facebook page is plastered with bike news, BMX videos, maintenance tips, and bicycle memes. The bike theme is fairly loose, and many people come for the Monday night trivia and general sports-bar vibe. But avid cyclists should find plenty of people to compare notes with – and 24 draft beers to lubricate the conversation.
The Velo Bike Shop
Strategically positioned in the middle of downtown, Velo is a plucky new addition to the Roosevelt Row cultural scene. Velo sells bikes, repairs bikes, introduces new riders to bikes, and even organizes a weekly group ride to South Mountain. Velo also has its own café, where cyclists can hang out with a cup of joe and share stories from the road. Downtown cycling has exploded in recent years, with fresh bike lanes and Grid Bike stations everywhere. Velo adds some caffeine.
Bespoke Inn is a boutique hotel. It’s also an elegant café. And it’s bike shop. The restaurant is called Virtù Honest Craft, and offers more than just a hearty mile: It’s an award winning, nationally acclaimed restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale. The inn has a rose garden and arabesque tile. The bike shop sells a range of aerodynamic road bikes, but guests can pedal around the neighborhood on a Pashley – a quaint English single-speed fit for Miss Marple. (Wicker basket included.) With its refined atmosphere and Old World charm, Bespoke is in a class of its own.
Trailhead Bike Café
On the surface, Trailhead Bike Shop and Café is a small sports outlet like any other, and the Valley is full of such shops. But Trailhead is also a café, where you’ll find delicious coffee and carb-loaded sandwiches. The place is easygoing and friendly. You can fix an untrue wheel, watch bike races on the overhanging TV, and talk about local riding with the knowledgeable staff – and they’ll even mix you a smoothie while you wait. The best part: Trailhead stands about 100 feet away from the Arizona Canal Trail, which spans 30 miles.