Answers From A Bottle

Dear Mighty Wizard,

With Wizard Staffs Across The Universe coming up soon, do you have any advice for a newbie trying to reach wizard status? Are you the wisest wizard of all as well as W.S.A.T.U. creator?

I kneel to the Master – Neil

As I understand it, in order to reach wizard status, one has to have a staff that’s at least as tall as they are. So, by my math, if a person is four feet tall, that’s only like, ten cans of beer, which in my circles is a long brunch. It also means that A) you have internal organs to scale with your height, which all things being relative is, uh… relative, or B) you’re a six year old, in which case you shouldn’t be playing this game anyway. On the chance that my calculations are correct, then it was a result of several trips with a calculator, and a tape measure to the refrigerator, and I deserve a congratulatory pat on the back.

When assembling a staff, my mantra is that this is a marathon, not a race. Eat food, drink water, and use duct tape sparingly.

To the best of my knowledge, the credit for the concept goes to a gaggle of dirtbag skateboarders, but it was metal fabricator, and all around obsessed tinkerer Jeff Tiedeken who first introduced me to the way of the staff at the San Diego Handbuilt Bike Show in 2011. While I wasn’t the one who invented the game, I did come up with the holiday, which as of 2021 is in its eleventh horrible/glorious year.

Why the third Saturday of June, and not at some point in August, which is after all, the International Canned Beer Month” you might be asking? To which I can only answer, ‘why, indeed’.

The Wisest Wizard there ever was: Shifter Dan

Lastly, if by ‘the wisest wizard’, you mean the individual who has claimed the tallest of all staffs, to my knowledge, I am not. While I’ve both proudly, and shamefully topped out, and now at this point, tapped out at 30, that dubious honor goes to Dan Hale of Australia’s Shifter Bikes, who in 2011 decimated all comers with a staff almost double his height, comprised of both beer, and canned mixed drinks. I’m reasonably sure he retired from competition immediately thereafter.

As a footnote, I feel compelled to say that as I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve learned firsthand what the destructive nature of alcohol can be for some people. While I personally enjoy the shenanigans and fun associated with my relationship with booze, I get that it’s not the same for everyone, and it took the painful conclusion of a long time friendship for me to finally understand that. So there is the rub in all of this, and what ultimately has grown into a complicated, and somewhat contradictory relationship with alcohol. I love cheap canned beer, and take good care to ensure that we can remain friends forever. Know when to say when, stay hydrated, stay nourished, have fun, and maybe treat yourself to a month or two on the wagon afterwards. Or, if you don’t want to partake in any of this, that’s ok too. We’ll still be friends.

Mr. Stevil,

Can you shed some light on this often-occurring issue: if you (or maybe me) do a four-hour ride that starts in the early morning and finishes before noon, is it okay to have a few beers before lunch?

Thanks -Mariah


While I’m no physiologist/biologist/or really, anything that ends with ‘ist’, (save for ‘pist’) I’m going to say with no authority on the matter whatsoever, that it all boils down to your metabolism. The average person generates between 27 to 47 ounces of sweat per hour of exercise. That means, even if you’re not sweating for one hour of the four hours of riding, you’ve lost 141 ounces of fluids. It’s imperative that you replace that with actual water.

That said, you might remember this edition of AFB in which I cite Professor Manuel Garson of Spain’s Granada University in which he noted, “the rehydration effect (of beer) in the study’s participants was ‘slightly better’ than that among those given only water”.

This of course isn’t to say that it’s a suitable substitute for water, or water with a hydration tablet, or water with a bit of orange juice in it, or whatever. Your organs need it, your skin needs it, your spine needs it… Water is life, and if you remember that rule first, drinking a few cold ones while on your ride, or resting in a tree’s shade afterwards might just be the cure for what ails you.


I’m just getting out of school and not sure what to do with my life. What are your guiding principles for a confused soul like me?

Eager To Know – Wes


If I had the answer to that question, I likely wouldn’t be starting my entire existence over again with the first brick. I thought a lot about your query as soon as it landed on my desk, and wondered if I had knuckled down, and immersed myself in something other than an art degree, and had fought and scraped together every dollar I made, and really made something of my life, would I be happy now at 50 years old knowing that while yes, I am financially secure, I traded it for my youth. As it stands, the last 30 years have been a gas, and I don’t have too many regrets. Conversely, it occurred to me the other night that my retirement plan is to simply die.

Honestly, I don’t know what the answer is. I’m a huge proponent of doing what makes you happy, and the blinding contradiction is that sometimes you have to wade through a whole lot of misery in order to figure out what that is.

A lesson I’m learning currently (see; getting the absolute shit beat out of me by) is to trust the universe. Nothing’s going to happen for you if you sit still. Work a little bit, save some dough, and take a road trip. Ride your bike in places you’ve never heard of. Go see the world’s biggest ball of yarn, keep a journal, eat a can of sardines over a dumpster in the Ozarks, play in creeks, sleep under the stars. When the boarders open up again, go to Europe. Meet a girl on a train out of Köln, stay with her and her hot mom, bleed all over their clean sheets, sleep in the bushes, listen in on conversations you don’t understand.

There are far more questions in this life than there are answers. Right or wrong, just for now maybe put a little effort into creating a few of those answers for yourself.

Have a question? Send it to: Stevil [at] You’ll be a better person for it.

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