BRADENTON -- The Bradentucky Bombers roller derby team wheeled its way through Bradenton Friday night, but they weren't on skates.
Instead, the sassy crew cycled their way through town on a 16-seat Dutch bike sipping beer from bar to bar as part of a test run for the PedalPub.
"We're a well-oiled machine!" said one of the Bombers, whose roller name is Sookie Smackmouth.
PedalPub, part of a franchise, is a driver-for-hire group tour where folks saddle up eight to a side and pedal push together while imbibing. Tours are expected to be offered in the coming weeks.
The franchise owner and driver, Bradenton resident Krista Bertelson,
steers and handles the brakes.
"The town is so receptive and friendly and kind about it," Bertelson said. People along Old Main Street smiled and whipped out their smart phones to get a shot of the bike.
Bertelson navigated the gnarly party from pub to pub, making sure she wouldn't encounter any unexpected hills or traffic congestion. It turns out that the trip from Tarpon Pointe back to Motorworks took 50 minutes. So that bar, along with Little Giant Brewery, expected to open later this year, would have to be on a separate route in the future, Bertelson said.
The tours are booked by the hour and groups typically spend 15 to 20 minutes in a spot. The regular route will start at Motorworks Brewery, head south to Darwin Brewing Co., then through the Village of the Arts to Old Main Street, down along the Manatee riverfront and back to Motorworks.
Bertelson approached the city in February about bringing the pub to Bradenton after facing more restrictive ordinances in St. Petersburg. Bradenton lacks any specific ordinance that would prevent the pedal pub from having its passengers do tours or cycle and sip, treating it like a limo service. She expects to fill out paperwork for a business tax license with the City of Bradenton this week and to start up in the next two to three weeks.
Groups have to provide their own beer and wine, which can't be opened until they're on the bike, Bertelson said. They can even bring their own pony keg, which Darwin Brewing also sells, to hook up for draft beer. The only no-no is hard liquor and containers can't be open prior to boarding.
PedalPub is partnering with Motorworks Brewery. It hopes to store the bike at the brewery, making it a home base and the launching point for tours.
Kristin Martin, Motorworks' social media director, is excited about the possibilities.
"This whole little area is becoming a destination for craft beer and awesomeness," Martin said. "The intention is for this to be the entertainment corridor and for it to be linked to Old Main Street in Bradenton. In my mind, this is just one more step in the right direction."
It's just a matter of whether participants can make it back where they started.
"Everyone has to equally help or else you're not going to make it to the next place," Martin said.
Tours cost $325 per group Sundays through Thursdays and $385 on Fridays and Saturdays. That averages to $20 to $23 per person for a full 16-person tour, Bertelson said. A mixed public tour is planned at $30 per person to allow single riders to join.
Motorworks could help organize selling the tours to fill seats, Martin said, but those plans haven't been finalized.
"The true point is making people love craft beer as much as we do," she said.
Bertelson estimates more than 250 tours can be booked a year, bringing 3,750 people to town spending at least $50 on their trip to create a $187,500 economic impact.
Said Bomber Shawn Connell during Friday's pre-party: "You could go on a party bus and rent a stripper pole, or you could go on the PedalPub and work your thighs in other ways."
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.