When cruising the clubs, you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle made for two (or more)
By the time we pull up to Tonic, the bar over on West Second Street, I don’t know what to think. It is the beginning of the end of a strange night.
Anytime you find yourself on the back of a bicycle rickshaw at 3 a.m., drunk on a Friday night in front of a bar in downtown Reno, you know something weird has happened—and it’s likely something else weird will soon happen.
I had met Kyle Dale Spector, a 32-year-old Reno native and life-long cyclist, a couple weeks before the night of our wild ride. He was sitting in front of a bar on his bicycle rickshaw—a bike with a wagon attached behind it that comfortably sits two people. This was the first time I’d seen a bicycle rickshaw, and since I was a bit drunk and curious, I had to talk to him. He gave me his phone number, told me to invite some friends and he’d cart us around while we went bar-hopping.
Now, how could I pass up an offer like that?
My friends Adam and Dan came along for the adventure. Dan was a bit skeptical of the idea at first—and to be honest, so was I. It’s not that we thought we were too cool to ride around on the back of a rickshaw all night, we just didn’t know how three 21-year-old college students were going to fit on the one bench.
What’s worse: Dan and Adam kept calling “Not middle!”
We meet Kyle at Se7en Tea House on Arlington at 9 p.m. My friends and I have a few beers, but Kyle declines, citing his strict policy against drinking on the job. Kyle explains to us what he does, which is pretty simple: He gives people rides around downtown Reno and works for tips.
“I like the simplicity of this business,” Kyle says.
He tells me that bicycle rickshaws operate differently in bigger cities. They’re more like taxicabs. Rickshaw operators charge per-mile, and the rickshaws are owned by companies instead of independent owners. Also, Kyle says, there are strict city ordinances regarding rickshaws. In Phoenix, for example, rickshaws can’t operate on city streets if there is a rip in the rickshaw’s upholstery or if the armrests don’t match. And per-mile rates have to be clearly displayed.
Reno has no ordinances for bicycle rickshaws.
Kyle, who owns and operates his rickshaw, works just for the tips.
“The tip is whatever you think the ride is worth,” Kyle says. “And if you think the ride is worth nothing, that’s fine by me.” (Full disclosure: While Daniel Riggs strenuously attempted to tip Kyle Dale Spector for the time spent pedaling around town, he refused to accept a gratuity.)
Kyle has a friend in Reno to whom he lent a rickshaw. His friend operates the same way. Kyle says he hopes to have four bicycle rickshaws up-and-running by the end of summer. He doesn’t charge for the use of the rickshaws.
“I want to drop this company on Reno and have very little financial gain from it,” he says.
Adam, Dan and I all pack in on the rickshaw’s wagon bench. It’s about 10 p.m., and there is a crowd outside Imperial Bar and Lounge, next to Se7en. I am wearing a bright pink polo shirt and feeling kind of embarrassed sitting middle, when I see a group of girls pointing at us. We wave, and the girls cheer. This could turn into a good night, I think to myself.
Kyle takes us to the Red Martini, a nice little bar tucked away south of Third Street on Commercial Row. He introduces us to the owner, Ray, and a shot and two beers later, my friends and I get back on the rickshaw.
Bar-hopping is simple with Kyle. He takes us to a bar, introduces us to people who might be willing to buy us drinks, then he rides off to meet other customers and waits for us to text him when we want to leave.
After a few more drinks, we text Kyle, and he takes us to 3rd Street Blues bar, where a friend of his is having a bachelor party. Somebody buys me a beer. I buy the bachelor a shot of tequila—my choice, not his—and Dan buys everybody Irish Car Bombs. I quit counting the drinks after that.
Kyle comes back around midnight and offers to give everyone a lift to the Men’s Club, a strip club on Lake Street. The bachelor declines.
But Adam and Dan call, “Not middle!”
Before climbing into the wagon, I scribble a passage in my notebook: “I need a beer.”
From 3rd Street Blues to the Men’s Club is a little over a mile. Kyle decides to take the scenic route. He rides us up and down Virginia Street. This gives the three of us a chance to talk with Kyle.
“I had the most fun,” says Kyle. “Essentially, it is partying.”
When we pull up to the Men’s Club, Kyle walks in and says something to the hostess, who then signals for us to go inside the club.
It is Adam’s turn to buy a couple rounds.
By the time we text Kyle to pick us up, Adam, Dan and I are too drunk to do anything … except drink more.
Kyle doesn’t mind us drunk on the back of his rickshaw. Adam and Dan are having a blast asking Kyle all sorts of random questions. It’s well past midnight, and Reno’s nightlife is in full swing. People are cheering us as we ride past. To my surprise, only one person yells anything rude. The rest seem impressed by the rickshaw.
By the time we get to Tonic, the three of us are exhausted. Strange, since Kyle has been doing all the work.
Kyle comes into Tonic with us, and I order a round of tequila. Kyle orders a cocktail, which means he won’t be riding anymore that night. By now, it’s well past 3 a.m. The other bars are closing, and everyone is pouring into Tonic. Kyle tells us this is the place to be, and that we should stick around and have more drinks.
Adam is half-awake sitting on an ottoman inside the bar. Dan is somewhere around here … I think. I’m busy trying to figure out where I am.
People continue pouring into the bar, but my college-tested alcohol tolerance is failing me.
We find Dan, thank Kyle for all the rides, and take an automobile taxi home.
Adam and Dan yell, “Not middle.”