It’s official: A business from Uxbridge has won the Best Bicycle Friendly Business Award for York Durham Headwaters for the second time. This program, hosted by Ontario by Bike, awarded Nexxus Coffee the honour in 2019. For 2021 the award goes to one of our favourite YDH craft breweries The Second Wedge Brewing Company.
If you follow our blog and social media channels, you’ll know that Second Wedge is an active business within the community of Uxbridge. They are involved in local festivals, community improvement opportunities, and even product collaborations with other craft breweries. In particular, they’ve welcomed with gusto the cycling community that Uxbridge’s trails and charming scenery attract. So, while we are thrilled that they’ve won and are so, so proud, we have to admit… we’re not at all surprised.
It was seventeen years ago that owners Joanne Richter and Rob Garrard moved to Uxbridge, drawn here by the amazing landscape and the renowned network of trails. “What comes hand in hand with that is a huge community of people who get out there everyday,” Joanne explains. “The rolling hills are perfect for cycling. Between mountain biking and road cycling, it’s a real hotspot for people who love to get out on two wheels.”
When Joanne and Rob opened their craft brewery, their aim was to tie what they did at their business and what they offered to what they loved about Uxbridge’s trails and landscape. In particular, they wanted to not only be welcoming to the cycling community, they wanted to draw cycle tourism from the trails into the downtown area. “We wanted to help spark some life and some traffic into our main downtown Brock Street and surrounding area to try to bring business into our small independent shops,” Joanne explains. “A lot of businesses in town do work together that way.”
This is why, when opening, Second Wedge registered as a bicycle-friendly business with Ontario by Bike from the get-go. They installed cycle-friendly features like bike racks and a repair stand, built a large patio perfect for weary cyclists to cool off and refresh themselves after (or in the middle of) a ride, and arranged to provide maps and resources for visiting cyclists.
The experience has been incredibly rewarding for Joanne and her team. “We offer the cycling community a welcoming environment, and they bring it all back in business for us,” she says. “It’s a wonderful relationship. They’ve embraced us and we’re thrilled.” For staff, there is nothing better than seeing people come off the trails or the roads after a ride and choosing Second Wedge as a place to unwind and talk about their day.
This is the third year that Ontario by Bike has offered its business awards. To be eligible, the business has to be certified by Ontario by Bike as a bike-friendly business within one of five categories: accommodations; services; attractions; visitor information centre; or a bike-related business.
Breweries in particular have their own icons on the Ontario by Bike website, and there are currently 50 breweries in Ontario that are certified as bicycle-friendly. “In general, cyclists really enjoy visiting craft breweries because they’re often in interesting types of buildings, and have large patios that bikes can be brought onto,” says Lisa Mursell, Executive Director of Transportation Options which runs the Ontario by Bike program. “And it’s not all about the beer—they serve non-alcoholic drinks, too. It’s about a nice cold beverage and a place to gather… in times where we’re allowed to gather, of course.”
It’s not just being a certified business that gets a business the award, though. It’s going above and beyond Ontario by Bike’s certification criteria which makes that business stand out as exceptional, as well as their level of community engagement. “The Second Wedge has definitely done this,” Lisa says. “They have bike parking, they have a bike repair station, they have an outdoor patio, free water, they have cycling maps available, and all of their staff know about the program. Plus, they’re super engaged with their local cycling community, which helps get the word out for other cycling clubs that go to the area, as well as individual cyclists.”
With Uxbridge being the Trail Capital of Canada, the location of Second Wedge is ideal. “Uxbridge has a trifecta of amazing cycling going on,” Lisa explains. “Road cycling, off-road recreational trails and mountain biking—those three types of cycling really draw people to the area, and Durham Region has some great resources for cyclists to find out about cycling here.”
In the past several years, the popularity of cycle tourism has grown. Especially with the current health situation, cycling lends itself well to safe recreation and travel options. “People are stuck at home and are only going out for health and transportation purposes,” Lisa points out. “Cycling is great for both of those necessities. Last summer we saw a large number of people increase the level of cycling they’re doing. And about 79 percent of the cyclists we surveyed last year responded that they were anticipating being able to do some non-local travel in Ontario this summer.”
She adds, “It’s a great way to visit a destination. You can slow down and see a lot more on a bike than you can from a car. It’s also a great opportunity to visit small communities like Uxbridge, where you can support local businesses and visit small businesses that appreciate any patronage during this challenging time.”
With Ontario currently being in a modified social environment, Joanne and her team at The Second Wedge Brewing Company are regrettably not able to offer the same level of service of they are capable. In fact, at the time of writing this post, Ontario is weathering its second Stay-at-Home order since COVID-19 began, so all Second Wedge can offer is beer-to-go. But they are eager for the time when it’s safe to fully reopen—especially with summer around the corner and their outdoor beer garden waiting. Joanne says, “It’s a whole part of our business that we miss dearly, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back.”
To find out more about cycling in Ontario, and to discover the location of bicycle-friendly businesses like The Second Wedge Brewing Company, visit OntariobyBike.ca.
14 Victoria St., Uxbridge
Bike ride with people within your household or social circle. Riders must always maintain two metres (or about the length of a bicycle) between you and anyone who isn’t in your social circle. If you cannot maintain physical distancing even outdoors, you will need to wear a cloth or non-surgical mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin. Riding a bike remains a great way to get exercise for physical and mental health during a pandemic. Now is a great time to get out and enjoy some of the new cycling infrastructure near you!
Story by Katherine Ryalen