Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tour de Fat: A beer-fueled bike festival

Tour de Fat, gate
If there's anything I've learned about Fort Collins, CO, it's that the people here love beer. In bars, restaurants, and homes, it's all about the microbrew, and we have no less than three major breweries in the area (and no, none of them are Coors).

People here also love bikes. There are trails all over the city and in the mountains, and special lanes for bikers on nearly every street. In the middle of Old Town Square is a bike library. Shops to equip and service the twin-wheeled wonders abound.

Put the two together, throw in costumes and a parade, and you've got Tour de Fat, the multi-city bike festival cooked up by New Belgium Brewery (which I've written about before). As described on their website, it's "a costumed celebration of human-powered transportation. Muscles not motors, coasters, v-brakes, and rotors."
Tour de Fat bike parade
On the morning of this year's Tour de Fat, a bunch of my classmates and I began the day at DD and TL's house, with a potluck brunch and some killer bloody marys (drunkenness begins early, at this event). Once the parade got underway, we rode out to join in where it curved at City Park. The parade was moving at a good pace at first, but I had to pedal slower and slower as I got closer to the New Belgium grounds, since people were all funneling in to where the festival was taking place.
Me bike!
MC and I chained up against a railing, in the first empty spot we found within walking distance. As we got closer, these railings were lined with bikes three or four deep.

(Did I mention that she and I dressed ourselves in scrubs we found in a thrift shop, and called ourselves Dr. Yang and Dr. Grey? I made my hair curly and everything…okay, okay, it was a lame costume. But it took us less than twenty minutes and under ten bucks, and in my new graduate student outlook on life, that's just fine with me.)
Tour de Fat
Once inside, there was a lot to see. For instance, tons of different people in crazy, clever outfits.
Art bikes Art bike
Tour de Fat Sofa / bikes
Art bikes and couch bikes.
Chess 'n' checkers
Giant chess 'n' checkers.
Solar powered Tour de Fat "compost office"
And solar power stations and "Compost Offices."
Tour de Fat "Tokens of Affection" New Belgium Skinny Dip
For twenty bucks, you can buy four tokens, each of which gets you a pint of beer. Better yet, the proceeds go to bicycle and environmental charities. I stuck with Mothership Wit for most of the day…organic beer prevents hangovers, right?
Burger from Avogadro's Number
I milled around for a while, chatting with friends and drinking up my tokens. By my third, it was definitely time for food. There were a bunch of stands from local restaurants set up in one area, but many had run out of their wares by the time we got there. I settled for a burger (pretty good) and an ear of sweet corn on the cob.

Yes, that's sauerkraut hanging out of my bun. Hey, if pickles can work, why not fermented cabbage?
Car funeral procession Car funeral procession
Car funeral procession
Toward the end of the afternoon, I saw a funeral procession being held for an SUV. You would not believe the amount of cheering that arose when the car went by. No wonder, since the theme of Tour de Fat is "Would you trade your car for a bike?"
Someone left this in my basket
When I was ready to pedal out, I made my way to my bike and found this, an offering from the fruit gods, sitting in my basket. I never did figure it out what it was—a woman, spotting the yellow orb as I set it on the railing, asked me if she could take it for her daughter, and I gladly gave it to her. After all, an event like Tour de Fat is no time to deny a good deed between one biker and another.

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