RALEIGH — Im pounding on the bar with my fists, screaming the lyrics to Dont Stop Believin, sloshing a drink on my lap and trying not to worry that Im pedaling crazily down Morgan Street on 14-seater bicycle alongside a dozen beer-soaked strangers heading straight for a city bus.
The guy steering this contraption keeps calling himself the Capital City Kidd, and hes wearing a wool hat embroidered with ducks, even though its practically summer. Every few seconds, he rings a big brass bell and hollers Woo woo!
Across from me, theres a guy in an Oxford shirt chugging Budweiser, legs pumping like its the last mile of the Tour de France. Two seats down, theres a goateed guy sipping Modus Hoperandi, grimacing while his calves push the pub uphill. All along the sidewalks, people are staring at us like we just landed from outer space aliens barreling down the street in a 16-foot, 2,000-pound, bike-powered bar.
The Trolley Pub, which officially arrived in downtown Raleigh Friday night, is to my knowledge the only legal and morally acceptable way to drink and drive. And when you climb onto a stool, fix your fit on the pedals and set your cup on the shellacked hardwood bar, Capital City Kidd offers this endorsement of his ride:
Its calorie neutral.
(Disclaimer: The columnist in no way endorses beer consumption while bicycling or any other activity outside of homework and church. He participated in this spectacle under duress as a form of immersion journalism.)
The idea for a rolling, foot-powered pub apparently began in Amsterdam, but Raleighs version is the brainchild of some University of Arizona students who tried it out in Tucson. You can rent the whole trolley for eight to 14 people or buy a single $25 dollar ticket on the Friday mixer tours.
Theres no booze on board, but its allowable as long as you bring your own and drink from a plastic cup. Basically, the trolley passes muster with open container laws by acting as a self-propelled limousine with a driver in a separate compartment. (Theres an electric motor for really tough hills.)
Shelling out a Jackson and a Lincoln may seem like a lot for a BYOB ride, but the two-hour tour shuttles you between downtown and Warehouse District bars, getting you to the front of the line without a cover charge.
But basically, youre paying for the wind in your hair.
Weve had one or two elderly people ride, said Kidd, pointing to the bench reserved for non-pedalers, and one with a broken ankle.
Moving at 5 mph can feel pretty euphoric when youre perched on a bike seat, drink in your hand, and Crazy Train is blasting on the radio.
Kidds partner Big Mike shouts an invitation to everyone on the sidewalk, noting their personal details as he rolls past.
To a man on crutches: Come see us when you get better!
To a man dressed in cowboy garb: Nice hat!
To a random guy: You the man!
Behind us, a Jaguar-driver grows impatient and screeches around on the left. Then a Toyota calmly follows behind.
When its all over, back at Spy Raleigh on West Davie Street, Ive only consumed half of one drink. But I slap five with Capital Kidd and Big Mike, feeling giddy as a teenage boy.
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