our buddy Mark was interviewed by Draft Magazine recently. Here is the interview
Beer Runner spotlight on Mark Sirek, 37, Service Manager at Wheel and Sprocket, Fox Point, WI; metalhead; dedicated winter cyclist
Beer of choice: Edmund Fitzgerald from Great Lakes, 1554 from New Belgium, and The Reverend from Avery “get a lot of face time”
The Beer Runner: What are your beer runner credentials?
Mark Sirek: I get into new beer like I get into new music - even if it sucks I can say I tasted or heard it. There is something about experiencing a complete package for the first time - how it came into your possession, the artwork, the first sip. Just like a new record. The right combination can make you feel like you know the craftsman. I also ride a bike close to every day of my waking life. Sometimes in my dreams, too. I’ve ridden pert near everyday now for eight years. I didn’t start commuting all 4 seasons until my late twenties, unfortunately. The best day has a curtain call with a good beer.
BR: How did you get you get started biking through winter?
MS: I was going back to school and working at a bike shop and the first 3 years revolved around 30-minute back-and-forth commutes. The fourth year put me to the test as I rode from MPLS to St. Paul everyday as a high school teacher. I had to leave at 5 am every morning, it took and hour each way, and I frequently rode in 10 below temps before wind chill. That’s not tooting my own horn - it was actually kind of dumb - but at least I have benchmarks of pain now and I feel prepared.
BR: What did you learn during that time?
MS: No matter how many times a motorist sees a cyclist in winter, they still react like they are seeing a moon-man invasion. If you get in the mindset that every person who sees you is going to be stunned to the point of immobility, then you can begin to assume that their actions may put you in danger. Whether it’s fair or not, plan for the oddest reactions to your presence possible and you should be okay.
BR: As a metal fan, what is your favorite music to bike to and favorite music to drink beer to?
MS: The BEST metal album to ride to is PENTAGRAM’S 1985 album RELENTLESS. I could ride 300 miles without food or stopping hope to say with that in the background. One of the most perfect metal albums ever, and don’t suggest differently unless you’re really serious. In the winter I can’t do without Polish, Hungarian, Baltic, Russian, or Ukranian black metal. The music deals with strength and perseverance through submittal to cold and dark power greater than the sum of your parts. Perfect! My metal head friends and I get together almost weekly to share our latest finds, and huddling around the hi-fi always includes beer. Any new metal goes well with beer. Well, almost any.
BR: Do you also have an opinion for best post winter-biking beer?
MS: Anything made by Milwaukee’s own Jacob Sutrick down at Stonefly Brewery on Center St. in Riverwest. Preferably SIMON BAGLEY Stout. Again, Edmund Fitzgerald is hard to beat. Arrogant Bastard, Dragon’s Milk, Old Engine Oil, and New Glarus Black Wheat are ridiculously good too.
BR: What biking accomplishments are you most proud of?
MS: About 5 years ago, my dear friend Craiggles McShithead and I rode 200 miles from Minneapolis to Duluth, met our wives at FITGER’S BREWERY, had a grip of potato stouts and fresh Lake Superior fish, and rode home - another 200 miles - the next day. Duluth rules. I’m also proud of participating in the Triple D in Northeastern Iowa every January. Last year not one of the 38 entrants finished the 56 mile course due to 9 inches of snow and ice. I’d bet that most of the 38 entrants drank more than double our weight in beer at the finish line bar. 8+ hours of falling off your bike into snow in 15 degree weather earned us the right.
BR: What beer accomplishments are you most proud of?
MS: When I go to The Fifth Dimension aka DISCOUNT LIQUOR here in Milwaukee I can point to a lot of beers and give ‘em a wink remembering our special times. Making beer has been the pride and joy of millions for a mighty chunk of recorded time and I’m happy to be on the receiving end. It’s like being a family member of The Enlightened.
BR: Of all the places you’ve lived, what has the best place for biking and/or biking culture?
MS: I’ve lived in Eau Claire, WI, Olympia, WA, Bellingham, WA, Charlottesville, VA, Madison, WI, Minneapolis, MN, and now Mil-Rock-Me. Bellingham, Wa was pretty incredible. I lived there in the mid-nineties. There was a lot going on with the infectious growth of microbrew culture. Mountain biking was young and off like a megaton bomb. Those cultures called the shots in many lives. What could you do? Say no? NONSENSE! Madison has a great cycling culture, and the beer and food that goes with it is pretty grand too. But I have to say that Milwaukee’s enthusiasm in its cycling community to invent itself as its own glorious entity is so amazing to be a part of that it’s overshadowing past experiences. We are on the cusp of something huge here - something that won’t be seen as a copy. There is fire here - mark my words. And there’s some beer here too.
BR: What’s the best place for beer?
BR: Any other words of wisdom?
MS: Use all five of your senses, keep things simple and manageable, and move around under your own power. And whenever possible, have a beer for no reason other than it’s one of mankind’s greatest inventions.