One of the most enjoyable aspects about doing what I am doing is the amazing people that I have met along the way. Whether it be the woman from the country of Oman (oh my! a mere 8000 miles away!) who booked a group combo brewery tour, or the ethanol executive from London who I finally met in person after exchanging about 50 emails (phew!), or the couple from South Carolina in Milwaukee for the first time wanting to experience our brews, patrons from near and far have been so wonderful to get to know as we share stories and, of course, beers!
And while visitors to the city certainly make my job fun, it’s the people here in Milwaukee who have truly made an impression on me. I have met caretakers of the historic brewery buildings who have an extraordinary love for what they do. I have met craft brewers who ply a dedication to their trade that is nothing short of remarkable (To be frank, I think some of them are quite nuts for the time they must put into what they do!). And recently, I met another tour guide of the city who has a passion for what she does as much as any individual that I have come across in quite some time. (Sidenote #1 – I’m pretty sure she’s already tired of me using the word “passionate” when I talk to her or others about what she does. I can already see her nodding her head in affirmation as she reads this!)
On a Thursday evening in mid-June, I was part of a group of 15 set to do a walking tour by Historic Milwaukee in the Walker’s Point neighborhood. Having only 14 people there, the guide looked at her list of names and announced, “Is there a Heidi Dressler here? Heidi Dressler?” Sure enough, from around the corner, walks in one last person who promptly remarks with a smile, “Hi, I’m Heidi.” And off we go.
About a third of the way into the tour, I see that of the squad of 15, only one is snapping photos of the architecture and dutifully jotting down talking points in her little notebook. Yes, the one and the same, Heidi Dressler. After strolling a couple of more blocks, I find myself standing near enough to Heidi to quizzically ask, “Do you do these often?” With a sly smile and a shrug of the shoulders, she says, “Yep, I’m kinda a nerd that way. So, yeah.” After introductions, we quickly find out that a mutual friend of ours had shared our names and tour business ideas with one another, but we had yet to connect to that point. Go figure.
Fast-forward three weeks later from that night of June 16, I have learned enough about Heidi to know that her passion for “all things Milwaukee” is on a level that one just doesn’t see very often. Whichever adjective you would like to use – enthusiasm, eagerness, fervor – these all apply to Heidi and her newly formed tour company, Spirit Bike Milwaukee.
This past week, 9 friends and myself were able to partake in SBM’s Cream City Classic tour of Milwaukee. This leisurely 3-hour jaunt took us through Walker’s Point, downtown, Brady Street, and the lakefront. All along the way, Heidi was able to narrate her impressive knowledge of history, architecture, and culture via a 2- way headset. She also had us pause a few times as she would point out interesting tidbits of a particular area of the city. About halfway through, a pit stop along Old World Third Street allows riders to explore the quintessential Wisconsin Cheese Mart or other fun spots along that historic strip. After some great photo ops along the lakefront, including the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World, the tour eventually winds itself back to the building that serves as home-base for SBM (which is a visual treat in itself!). Finally, you can then retreat to the new Drink Wisconsinbly Pub (deep fried cheese curds or Brandy Old Fashioned, anyone?) where Heidi hooks you up with a special deal for her patrons.
Even as a 20+ year resident of the city myself, I must say, I learned a host of new nuggets that inspired me to go home and do even more research on the world wide interweb. And if you happen to be a guest to Milwaukee, you will no doubt gain an appreciation for the city that you couldn’t experience in any other way.
Even if Heidi’s expansive knowledge of Milwaukee’s history, architecture, and rejuvenation alone isn’t enough to get you to take a biking tour, then her passion for what she does…should! (Sidenote #2 – she even admitted to making a special trip just to watch concrete being poured in a new tower being built downtown…wow!) So, if you are anything like me and love to learn new things from someone that has a certain special zeal… then do yourself a favor… take a tour from Spirit Bike Milwaukee with Heidi Dressler as your guide!
To book a tour, please visit spiritbikemilwaukee.com