“Wild Bill” escorts another enthusiastic group of “pedal pushers” through Fredericksburg on the new Pedal Tour Texas. The bicycle/biergarten/trolley offers two-hour tours with stops at several downtown establishments. Photo by Phil Houseal
by Phil Houseal
For forever the top three reasons to visit Fredericksburg included enjoying wine, seeing the sites, and participating in outdoor activities. It was inevitable that something would come along that combines all three.
Climb aboard Pedal Tour Texas.
You have probably done a double take at the yellow Rube Goldberg contraption crawling around Fredericksburg’s historic district. The 15-seat vehicle is a combination biergarten, trolley, and multi-user bicycle.
Like many curious passers-by, I pulled up alongside the trolley while it was parked outside Lincoln Street Wine Market to question driver David Curran, better known as Wild Bill.
“What we do is give a form of entertainment for people who want to have a different kind of experience in Fredericksburg,” he said with practiced zeal. That experience includes enjoying a fine beverage; making stops at Hondo’s, Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten, Lincoln Street Wine Market, and Sozial Haus; and, yes, actually pedaling the bike. Of course, Wild Bill steers, and controls when to kick in the electric motor–mainly uphill and while crossing Main Street.
Apparently this concept of self-propelled casual tourism is not new. It originated in Germany and Amsterdam in the 1990s, then spread to the U.S. coasts. There are now similar pedal tours in major Texas cities.
“After seeing these pedal bikes in Nashville, we believed an ‘off the beat’ tour here that focused on wine tastings, hidden treasures, and local history would do well,” said Joe Bachmeier, co-owner with Greg Ball. They think they have found a good fit in Fredericksburg. “The town has really welcomed us with open arms, which has been wonderful. We made sure to reach out to the town and local law enforcement in advance and have worked with them every step of the way.”
Wild Bill especially enjoys being able to chauffeur tourists off the highly-traveled main blocks of Main Street to show them another side of Fredericksburg.
“There are so many places that people never see,” he said. “We have a lot of beautiful homes and bed and breakfasts on San Antonio and Austin Streets. We see the backside of Marktplatz, and the beautiful churches. It just gives them a different experience.”
The best measure of success?
“Everyone smiles and waves and take selfies with the bike.”
Why does seeing this thing evoke such reactions? Wild Bill, who witnesses the emotions every day, has a theory.
“One of our early tours was a 60th birthday party for a woman,” he said. “She brought her friends, and they had such a blast. I think it recaptures their youth, and they become giggling schoolgirls. We transport them back to the playground. They are riding a bike after all... and enjoying an adult beverage.”
He also finds that the experience of pedaling together creates camaraderie among people who start each tour as complete strangers.
“I remember one trip where we had three local ladies on the same tour as a bachelorette party,” Wild Bill said. “During one stop, the ladies secretly went and got a bottle of wine and gave it to the bridal party as their gift. By the end of the trip, they were all friends and laughing together.”
And why not?
“Everybody knows how to ride a bike. Everyone is giggling, laughing, screaming. It’s a big time.”