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Ride a bike, blend a smoothie at Sunday farmers market
Bicycle-blended smoothies have arrived in Seattle. Pedal Smoothies is making its debut this summer at the Mercer Island Farmers Market and other local markets.
Save a dollar by pedaling your own smoothie, priced at $5. Smoothies cost $6 for those who don’t want to pedal and prefer to have it done for them.
Owner Himanshu Mehru, who was born and raised in India and goes by “Mike” at the market, first heard of the concept of a bicycle blender in May when he learned about such a business in Baltimore, Md. After finding out how the contraption worked, he got together with engineering friends from school and built one. The blender is attached to the rear bicycle wheel.
Mehru had just decided to sign up for the Seattle to Portland bike ride and purchased a new road bike.
Within a week, he had registered his new business, Pedal Smoothies, with the state.
Its mission is to “promote healthy living, love of bicycles, and happiness.”
Mehru then contacted the Mercer Island Farmers Market manager, who accepted his application even though the deadline had already passed. He had worked for a farmers market vendor on the Island during the previous summer.
With just one month to prepare for his market debut, Mehru was also studying for finals at the University of Washington. He is majoring in computer science and will graduate next spring.
Mehru planned to create his own smoothie recipes.
“I only wanted to do local and organic ingredients,” he said. His source for ingredients would be local farmers markets. He then hosted smoothie-tasting events at his apartment, and friends gave input on various flavors.
One of the first that they came up with was the ‘Tour de Heaven Mixed Berry’ — a twist on the Tour de France, because they thought the smoothie “tasted like heaven.”
Other flavors include the ‘Inter-Urban-ana’ (coconut milk and banana), the second most popular variety; strawberry-banana; the ‘Burke Gilman Kale’ (agave, banana, soy milk and kale); and chocolate varieties. Peach and nectarine smoothies will soon be added to the selection as Pedal Smoothies mixes currently available ingredients and tries new combinations.
Now that berries are in season, Mehru obtains frozen berries from local farmers such as Hayton Farms. Berries are frozen when they are most ripened, he explained. That is when they are the most nutritious and are best in smoothies, creating a good consistency.
Pineapple and banana are the only non-local ingredients. But everything is organic, Mehru said. Sugars and preservatives are not added to the drinks. A scoop of Spirulina, however, is available for $1. Base options are organic rice, soy, coconut or whole milk.
With two beach cruiser bicycles, which are comfortable to ride and more compatible with blenders, Mehru was ready for the Island market’s opening day in early June.
“The first people were shocked and amazed to see what was going on,” he said. “I invited them to ride the bike and pedal their own smoothies, or they can have me pedal it for $1 extra.”
After taking an order, Mehru prepares the ingredients and connects the blender to the bicycle.
“Kids love it,” he said. But there is a challenge for some kids — they can’t pedal sitting down because of the bicycle’s height.
The smallest child to ride the bike, Mehru said, was about three feet tall. Children who are shorter than the bike must stand up to pedal.
“I ask them to pedal while standing up like they were going uphill — and that way they can reach pedals and blend the smoothie really quickly,” Mehru said.
The bike must be a certain height in order for the blender to work successfully.
A smoothie can be blended in about 15 to 20 seconds.
“I do a smoothie in about 10 seconds,” Mehru said.
Some Islanders started scheduling Pedal Smoothies for birthday parties. The business also has a liquor endorsement and can serve margaritas and other blended beverages at private events where customers provide alcohol to be blended.
“This past Sunday was the hottest day. I set up the booth at 10 a.m. and the line never stopped until 3 p.m.,” Mehru said of the last weekend in June, when temperatures reached 90 degrees. “The entire day, we sold and sold … I forgot to check the weather and was not totally prepared for such an amazing response. I had everything — it still went well, I still served all of my customers.”
Mehru estimated that single-handedly, he sold 120 smoothies altogether that day. He also offers lemonade.
“It takes time to make the smoothies and get customers onto the bikes,” he said. The total experience takes from three to five minutes, he added. He does not yet have hired help, but that is a future possibility.
Beyond Mercer Island, Pedal Smoothies can be found at four additional farmers markets: Mukilteo, Lake City, Shoreline, and Willis Tucker in Snohomish. The Mercer Island market is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. except during Summer Celebration (July 14) and Seafair (Aug. 4).
Pedal Smoothies also caters at weddings, fitness classes and other events.
Go to www.pedalsmoothies.com for more about the new business.
Pedal Smoothies opens at the Sunday market with owner Himanshu “Mike” Mehru.