Words and photos by Burt Hoovis
If you’re like most folks, you probably have a few local rides that you gravitate to. And if you tend to do a ride frequently, there’s going to be a point in that ride where you find yourself thinking, “Man, a beer would be bitchin’ right now.” This is an oft-encountered dilemma, and it has a solution that doesn’t involve a mid-ride detour to your local watering hole: the trailside beer stash.
My stash is located at the top of a 4-mile singletrack climb near my house. The spot has several features that make it great: Its location at the top of the ridge represents a significant milestone in several rides that I do and it’s got an impressive view when the leaves are down; it’s a natural spot to reward myself with a moment of Zen and a beer. The small outcropping of rocks 20-odd yards from the trail has seen hundreds of years of falling leaves. This means that there are dozens of places to conceal stuff under the peaty loam that fills the crags, and I’ve placed a few stealthy marks around that allow me to rediscover things as more leaves fall and seasons change. It’s also only a few hundred yards from a fire road, so restocking is easily worked into a trip for trail cleanup or a detour on the way home from errands.
Recently I upgraded my cache from just a few buried cans to an actual sealed container, which is nothing more than an $8 plastic lunch cooler that closes tight. While certainly not highbrow, it does allow me to have a relatively clean can to drink from. In addition to holding a 12-pack, it also has extra room for a tube and a few CO2 cartridges, which definitely comes in handy.
If you’re planning your own stash, there are a few considerations to make. It should go without saying that you don’t want to litter or screw up the local environment, but I’ll say it anyway. To this point, cans are by far a better choice than bottles: They don’t break, you don’t need an opener and you’ll never even notice a crushed can in your jersey pocket until you hear it in the dryer. Also, think a bit about your beer choice. While that imperial coffee stout might be awesome to sip on with your post-ride Angus burger, it’s probably not going to do well as a mid-ride recharge that you’ll probably drink warm. Tastes are personal, but I usually go with low- ABV pilsners or salty sours, both of which go down really well when I’m sweaty and thirsty. Finally, resist the temptation to store other edibles in your stash, or animals in search of calories will almost certainly make a mess of things for you.
Happy riding and happy refreshing.