In some ways, a childhood activity has become a business for Robin Knutson, who operates a seasonal venture in Olympia called South Sound Adventures.
Last winter, he operated a shuttle service to Crystal Mountain and White Pass. For summer, he has rolled out the Olympia Bike and Beer tour, which takes riders on a 3-hour, 11-mile tour that starts in Tumwater and winds its way through Olympia. Along the way, riders learn more about the area, including its history, but also stop at Oly Taproom, 3 Magnets Brewing Co. and Fish Tale brew pub to sample local beers.
Knutson, 32, was born and raised in Olympia and can remember riding his BMX bike with his friends on a hot summer day. To cool off, they would stop at the former Olympia brewery and go on the beer production tour offered by the company in those days. Since they were underage, they couldn’t drink beer at the end of the tour — like so many did when the brewery was still open — but could get root beer.
Knutson said he and his friends used to do that 2-3 times a week, to the point that tour guides would give him a funny look.
Knutson also recalls a youthful lament: “There’s nothing to do in this town,” he remembers he and his friends saying.
But after attending Portland State University, he returned to Olympia with a new perspective.
“We have it so good here,” he said about the city. “I’m passionate about my hometown.”
Knutson, a longtime cyclist who used to commute to work on his bike, launched the bike tour in May. It will be offered three times a day, seven days per week, through Sept. 30. The 10 a.m. tour begins at the Schmidt House in Tumwater, while the afternoon tours start at Tumwater Historical Park. The first lesson of the tour is about the brewery and the history of beer making in the area.
From there, the cyclists head toward Capitol Lake and the Capitol Campus, plus wind through town. Knutson said he likes to point out the new and soon-to-begin developments in the city.
There’s also time to drink beer — a 10-ounce tasting at each location — and there’s time to take photos. The tour ends near the Port of Olympia and then riders make their way back to Tumwater Historical Park.
The tour costs $30 if you have your own bike, or $40 if you need to rent. He also has helmets, Knutson said. The cost of the tour includes the 10-ounce tasting.
The tour is for those 12 and older.
“If under 21, you can learn about the beer, you just can't drink it,” the South Sound Adventures website reads. “There will be free soda available.”
The history of the area is interesting for Knutson. For example, at 32, he has never known a time when he could swim in Capitol Lake. Yet Lakefair, the annual summer carnival at Heritage Park, used to have lake-based events, he said.
His winter shuttle services starts up again in December and will run through April.
South Sound Adventures
Owner and tour guide: Robin Knutson. He has a business partner who does something similar in Seattle.
Services: Olympia Bike and Beer tour, and a winter shuttle service to Crystal Mountain and White Pass.
Years in business: New. The shuttle started in December and the bike tours began in May.
Online: Tours are booked at southsoundadventures.com. They can be booked the same day, as long as it’s about two hours before the start time.
Tour times: 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., seven days a week. The morning tour begins at the Schmidt House, while the afternoon tours start at Tumwater Historical Park.