Hendersonville – Adam Justus is revving up his bicycle trolly tours in Hendersonville this spring for stops at local breweries or passages through historic and scenic spots near downtown.
The firefighter’s Hendersonville Pedals & Brews mobile business is on a 19-foot-long trolly. It has an electric motor, and does not rely on human power. But as many as ten people get to pedal to help propel their way through town. They enjoy aerobic exercise and fresh air, while listening to music the conductor plays.
“The only true time we need their pedal assistance is going up hills, or on front stops,” Justus noted. Yet, “if they pedal enough, the conductor can let his or her foot off of the pedal.” The driver/conductor/tour guide steers and propels the 48-volt electric motor. It has a strong gear ratio and three drive shafts that move wheels. The largest drive shaft is linked to the electric motor. Two smaller ones connect to patrons’ pedals.
Four non-peddlers can fit into the covered open-air vehicle.
Justus, 38, is a co-owner with a silent partner. He is among four conductors. Justus is Henderson County Fire and Rescue assistant chief, VN.C. Search and Rescue Advisory Council V.P. and a 2002 East Henderson grad. He has an emergency services/fire protection tech degree. Justus did disaster response logistics for FEMA. He worked for three fire-rescue units. He enjoys “giving back to the community.”
The first “pub-cycle” tour of this year was March 6, after a winter hiatus to upgrade the 2014 trolly. It has new seats and wiring, and cleansed chains that go from pedals to drive shafts.
Hendersonville Pedals & Brews’ first paid tour was near Thanksgiving 2019. Justus averaged six tours monthly in winter, until closing from March to mid-June 2020 as the pandemic struck. Business picked up starting in fall 2020, with “people ready to get out and live a normal life again,” Justus reasoned.
Tours are available Thursdays through Sundays. Corporate bookings are for weekday evenings. A recent booking was a company retreat.
“Restaurants and breweries have treated their staffs on days they are closed” early in the week, Justus said.
Six is the minimum to get a tour to materialize, and for private bookings. Group bookings are about one in every ten tours, he said. They cost $325 — $25 off the full price for 14 people at $25 per seat. A private group can specify which two breweries to stops at, in the Pedal to the Pints tour.
Most people book for four or fewer people. They meet other passengers. Riders must be 15 or older. Justus estimates three-fourths of “guests” are 40 or elder. One was 85. He observes they act much more mature than do some Asheville beer trollies with “bachelor parties acting absurd. It’s the total opposite with us” — with bubbly but more restrained frolic.
Pints, Pedal Power
Individual prices for Pedal to the Pints are $25 for an hour-and-a-half. That includes 20-minute stops at each of two breweries, with breweries rotated.
Each stop allows a passenger “time to drink one pint,” Justus estimates. State liquor laws forbid patrons taking open alcohol container between the brewery and pub cycle. Closed growlers or other containers are permitted. Patrons can leave open beers on the pub cycle during stops.
The conductor must steer the trolly soberly, Justus noted. “We’re responsible for everybody else on board.”
Pedal Your ‘Hendo Off’
A $15-per-rider express tour with no stops is Pedal Your Hendo (hind end) Off.” It has BYOB — with no hard liquor or glass containers allowed.
A seasonal Halloween tour in October is the Haunted Comedy Tour, for $30. Actors portray goblins along the route. “We killed it in October” with 20 tours per weekend, Justus said. “It’s definitely our best selling event.”
A 45-minute no-stop History Tour on a Saturday morning costs $20. A local historian points out historic structures downtown and large homes off Fourth and Fifth avenues.
Pub-cycle tours begin at the trolly outside a warehouse at 110 Second Avenue W.
Justus as the conductor makes quips at times, but mostly plays Eighties-Nineties pop hits and other music in tours. Once as he played the Village People’s “YMCA” hit, onlookers on the sidewalk suddenly shaped those four letters — replicating a fad in the Seventies. Trolly riders laughed.
When liking songs, trolly patrons “start bouncing” up and down more while pedaling, Justus noticed. Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” gets them going. Sinatra tunes are for elder wine sippers, as Justus will “read your crowd.” Rap is off limits. “We avoid cursing R-rated music. We want to be good stewards of local tourism.”
Justus is launching Blue Ridge Beer Garden he co-owns by “late spring,” once he renovates a gas station built in the Fifties. The business’ Facebook page updates the timetable.
Once it opens, Blue Ridge Beer Garden is where trolly tours begin. This is at 402 S. Church St., at the southeastern corner with Kanuga.
Justus hopes to attract adventurous outdoors people there. “You’ll step into a very green outdoor setting — inside and outside” with trees and shrubs, Justus said. “We’re taking the word ‘garden,’ and we’re running with it. We’re bringing the Blue Ridge Mountains to Downtown Hendersonville.”
Check hvlpedalbrews.com for more info.