Release Date: Thursday, October 4th 2012
Prep Your Pedals for Tour de Fat’s Bike Fest
by Janice Vega
It’s quite a sight to behold: hundreds of bicyclists coming down the street, some wearing tutus and suspenders, others in crazy hats or wigs, but all of them, adults and kids alike, are having the time of their life.
That’s the scene that will take place on October 6 when New Belgium’s Tour de Fat invites hundreds to ride around Tempe for the annual Tour de Fat costumed bicycle parade. It starts and ends at Tempe Town Lake, where a wonderfully whimsical beer and bike festival will follow the morning’s ride
“People are encouraged to wear costumes to help get into the mood of their alter-ego, taking the reigns for the day,” said New Belgium’s Tour de Fat Impresario Matt Kowal
Tempe will be Tour de Fat’s 14th city on its 15-stop tour across the country. With an expected 20,000 attendees, Tempe is the second-largest event next to Fort Collins, which sees 25,000.
“We like coming to Phoenix,” Kowal said. “This is a city that has put highways that are five or six lanes in both directions and yet we have one of the biggest bike parades in the entire country there.”
The bicycle and beer festival has toured the country for 13 years, spreading love for bikes and New Belgium beer. It has also raised over $2 million for cycling advocacy, and organizers are hoping to raise $80,000 in Tempe this year. Though it’s free to attend, all proceeds from food and beer go to local biking groups, such as Tempe Bicycle Action Group, Mountain Bike Association of Arizona and Bike Saviors.
The employee-owned, wind-powered brewery in Colorado has been a huge bicycle advocate since day one. In fact, the company’s flagship beer Fat Tire was born on a bicycle seat on a ride through Belgium.
“In Belgium, beer is treated a lot like wine,” Kowal said. “It was [an] inspirational to our founders because American beer had never had that kind of diversity before.”
Tour de Fat will feature an array of New Belgium beer on tap for festival goers to enjoy, but Kowal insisted Tour de Fat is not meant to be an occasion for guests to get sloshed.
“We are a bike festival first and beer festival second,” he said. “We really want to make sure that people have the chance to taste our beers but also come in lucid and be able to get inspired about bikes.”
Besides beer and bikes, Tour de Fat always offers several forms of eccentric entertainment. This year, the park will be scattered with interactive playthings like a Portaoke – a giant porta potty lined with fur that doubles as a karaoke machine –slinky stairs, giant musical instruments and new bikes in the bike corral.
There will also be stages featuring ensemble performances from members of The Blue Man Group, Cirque de Soliel and Barnum and Bailey Circus. The main stage will feature live music from Devotchka, Yo-Yo People, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister and Sssnakestein. The Pinnacle event of the day, however, is when someone trades in his or her car for a bicycle for a year.
“We’re just there to share in the celebration of the greatest invention of all time,” Kowal said. “It’s not just a festival about beer and bicycles, but about people-powered transportation and people-powered fun.”
Tour de Fat, Tempe Town Lake, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480.350.4311, 10 a.m., 9 a.m. bike parade registration, free