“When out-of-state visitors come in search of a ‘Vermont experience’ they’re chasing the best maple syrup, maple creemes, small-batch craft beer, locally roasted coffee, and fresh produce. And they want to enjoy it all with a Green Mountain backdrop.” That’s how Jonas Cole, owner and founder of Vermont Bike & Brew, a new Thetford, VT-based electric bike rental, sales, and tour company thinks. Cole was born in Vermont and knows which elements are essential in creating an authentic Vermont experience. “Many of these visitors don’t know they can avoid the many tourists in places like Burlington and Stowe. We have all the ingredients for an outstanding Vermont adventure right here in the Upper Valley.”
The Upper Valley, which is situated around Hanover, NH and includes about 30 towns on both sides of the Connecticut River, is Cole’s back yard. One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic, he explains, is that Upper Valley residents are signing up for the tours as well. Lifetime residents are discovering small businesses and back roads they never knew are right around the corner from their own home.
Vermont Bike & Brew tours are customized for every group. Locally roasted coffee from Abracadabra Coffee (Woodstock, VT) and cold pints from Jasper Murdock’s Alehouse (Norwich, VT) are classic stops. But don’t simply find these places on your own; Cole sends you on the scenic route with the maple creemee finale. One Bike & Brew customer remarked, “We had a true tour of Vermont from the farms and scenic landscapes to the ice cream.”
- For many, steep hills have been a barrier to exploring New England on a bicycle, but the pedal-assisted electric motor has changed the situation. Now people are commuting on electric bikes and ditching their cars whenever they can. As one Vermont Bike & Brew customer wrote, “We simply could not have done the almost 40-mile, extremely hilly ride with regular bikes. You still get a good work-out, but the hills are delightful rather than daunting!” The moment you start to pedal, the motor gives you a boost, and you can see how fun, practical, and environmentally-friendly they are. All over the world e-bikes are gaining popularity. Europeans have been riding e-bikes for years, whereas Americans are just catching on. Because e-bikes allow people of different ages and abilities to ride together at a similar pace, Cole refers to them as “the great equalizer.”
After graduating from the University of Puget Sound, Cole spent eight years taking youth on wilderness expeditions in the American Southwest. He spent summers leading international trips with Overland Summers, and, between trips, he always found a way to return to Vermont. This guiding experience gave him the background needed to understand what groups are looking for on a bike ride. Last year Cole moved back to the Upper Valley full-time and is running Vermont Bike & Brew from the garage at the house he grew up in.
Because the business operates out of his home, Cole is able to deliver bikes to the beginning of a tour route or anywhere a guest wants to ride. The weight of an e-bike is significant and loading it onto a rack can be a challenge, but he removes that challenge by delivering the bikes so guests can focus on the joy of riding. When a customer buys a bike from Vermont Bike & Brew, Cole delivers the bike fully assembled, charged, and warrantied by the manufacturer. Vermont Bike & Brew is an authorized dealer of Haibike and iZip electric bikes and will be adding Diamondback electric bikes next year.
Cole sees Vermont Bike & Brew as an opportunity he can leverage to benefit the local economy. His partner businesses are included on self-guided tour routes that guests can download on their phones. “When a guest visits one of my partner businesses,” he explains, “I feel like they are completing a cycle. These businesses have been sources of sustenance, libation, and entertainment in the Upper Valley for years and this is my way of saying thanks and showing my support.” Partner businesses include breweries, farm stands, cafes, scoop shops, B&Bs, and more. And what would a summer bike ride be without jumping in at a local swimming hole?
For reservations or to learn more about Vermont Bike & Brew call 802.274.2277 or visit www.VtBikeAndBrew.com.
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