Grab a cold one and see the city on the Michigan Pedaler
By Jackie Headapohl
Mike Gill loves his job. “I love talking to people and hearing their stories. I have a chance see people at their best — celebrating family, friends, life events and good times.
“So many things can divide us,” says the owner of the Michigan Pedaler in Detroit. “Running a business like this allows me to see the good in people and provide them with a fun, memorable experience.”
The Michigan Pedaler is a party bike for pub crawls, celebrations and more throughout Downtown, Midtown and Corktown. Since November, when the Detroit City Council passed an amendment allowing for alcohol on party bikes or “pedal pubs,” riders can now BYOB.
That means business is booming for Gill, who is coming up on his first anniversary in March. “We had a fantastic first year,” Gill said. Business was so good, Gill plans to go to three bikes — up from one — this summer.
Gill, who also runs Headlights PR & Marketing, said he’s always on the lookout for new ideas and fun things to be involved with. He began to play with the idea of starting a party bike company in 2012. When Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation in July 2015 making it legal for “pedal pub” passengers to consume alcohol on board, Gill says he “knew the industry was going to explode so I jumped on board.”
The Michigan native, who graduated from U of D Jesuit High and the University of Michigan, lives in Bloomfield Township with his wife and three young sons, when he’s not pumping the pedals.
Who does he shuttle around Motown? “There is no typical person,” Gill says. “We’ve hosted birthday parties for people from age 12 to 91. We do a lot of pub crawls, bachelor parties, family reunions … You name it.”
Some rides really stand out in his memory. “We had a girlfriend rent the bike for her boyfriend and his family to go on a ride shortly after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and was leaving for a month for experimental treatments in Texas. She said she just wanted to help get his mind off all of his problems,” Gill says.
“We had another lady rent the bike for her team of doctors and nurses at Karmanos Cancer Center to thank them for all the treatment and care they provided her over the past five years. We even had a ride that celebrated someone’s release from jail!”
People rent the Michigan Pedaler for a two-hour stretch — up to 15 on a bike. Ten people pedal, four get spots on a bench and one “captain” stands in the bartender area. People bring their own beer, wine and snacks. The bike has a cooler if you don’t have your own. If you don’t feel like pedaling, don’t worry. Michigan Pedaler drivers will help — and they have electric assist, which allows for cruising at a cool 10 mph. The two-hour ride costs about $20-$25 per person, depending on the day.
Tours start out from Bookies Bar and Grille (2208 Cass Ave. in the stadium district) and can go wherever riders want.
“Most of our riders like to go from one pub to another,” Gill says. His personal favorites? The Jolly Pumpkin and Honest John’s in Midtown, and PJ’s Lager House, Nancy Whiskey and McShane’s Irish Pub in Corktown.
Last summer, the Michigan Pedaler spent two days filming with the cast and crew of the Comedy Central show Detroiters, a buddy comedy starring Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson as two local ad men who make low-budget commercials in Detroit. “We had a blast!” Gill says.
The show premieres Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 10:30 p.m. “I think we’re on the second or third episode of the season,” Gill says. “Be sure to check us out.” NS
For more information:
To book online reservations, visit michiganpedaler.com