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Tour de Force

The annual Tour de Fat beer-and-bike bash in Fort Collins brings out the best and worst of the state

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If youre riding in Tour de Fat, you can leave the goofy - spandex at home.
  • If youre riding in Tour de Fat, you can leave the goofy spandex at home.

It's incredibly easy to get Coloradans fired up enough to break out costumes and march around.

(Has anyone else noticed this? Ive barely been in Colorado for a year, but I feel confident in this opinion, having witnessed Halloween, New Years Eve, Mardi Gras, Carnivale, the Emma Crawford Coffin Races and, one time, a very special event called The Band Brought a Bunch of Puppets and Gongs So Lets March Around for a Few Blocks and Yell Woo! at Pedestrians.)

So it was inevitable that you people would find a way to dress up and stomp around in celebration of two extremely popular local activities: riding bicycles and drinking beer.

On Sept. 22, New Belgium Brewing Companys annual Tour de Fat event loops its way back to Fort Collins, where it invites participants to let their hair down, put their hair up, or dye their hair any Kool-Aid color available for a day of creativity and laid-back competition.

The New Belgium Brewing Company started the tour eight years ago as a small, non-competitive ride to raise awareness of the thriving bicycle community in Fort Collins. It also wanted to allow the communitys creative side to shine, and to give a little back to charity. From there, the tours evolved.

Bicycle charity rides are a dime a dozen in Colorado, admits coordinator and New Belgiums self-proclaimed event evangelist Chris Winn. We started pushing it and soul-searching. Its become something of a freak show.

Along with the parade of double-bikes, bikes with way too many wheels, bikes the size of tricycles and streamers galore, the tour includes pseudo-competitive events such as a race to see who can ride the slowest without falling down, and a drag race where people have to get to the finish line while pedaling in insanely high gears.

Proceeds from the events food and beer sales go to charities such as trail-access mountain bike groups, city groups that specialize in alternative transportation rights, and bicycle co-ops.

A few years ago, it was more like bikes were just a good time, Winn says. Now we have an obesity epidemic, a crazy war over gas and gasoline maybe hitting $4 [a gallon] over the summer.

Its difficult to believe that a brewing company is in the game for purely philanthropic reasons. But even though the New Belgium name will be at the events forefront, Winn stresses that Tour de Fat is a bicycle festival with beer, and not a beer festival with bicycles.

Some people get the wrong idea, Winn says. Please, do not drink a lot and go for a bike ride.

Past highlights have included group costumes (such as a Smurf horde), musicians, a carousel manned by clowns, a bicycle/drum set hybrid and a large model Viking ship steered by six people.

Its like a kinetics show, Winn says.

Whatever it is, it inspires people to focus on bicycles, at least for a day. And with the state of todays world, that can only be a good thing.

You know the clich, Winn says. Build a man a fire, and hes warm for the night. Set a man on fire, and hes warm for life.

Eighth annual Tour de Fat: A Ballyhoo of Bikes & Beer

New Belgium Brewery,

Fort Collins

Saturday, Sept. 22

The first installment of Tour de Fat actually kicks off in Denver on July 7. For information on either city's festival, call 888/622-4044 or visit newbelgium.com.

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