By Charles Pekow — Tour de Fat is coming back this year – but not with as big a fizz as before. The annual fundraising events for bicycle advocacy put on by New Belgium Brewing Company will hit six cities this year, after the brewery overexpanded last year and scheduled 33 events, up from nine in 2016.
“Last year was by far the most we visited. We had good intentions,” explains Jesse Claeys, New Belgium public relations coordinator. “It was a risk. In hindsight, it really didn’t work. We need to focus more and get back to our roots.”
This year, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based brewery will host events in its home town on September 1, a week after hosting one in nearby Denver on Aug. 25. It will conclude the season in Tempe, AZ on Oct. 6. For ticket info, see goo.gl/wL8Fc2.
Last year, New Belgium scaled down the productions and charged admission for the first time, depressing turnout and upsetting some perpetual attendees. While the Fort Collins event sold out at 7,000 attendees last year, New Belgium estimates more than 10,000 attended the free event the year before, Claeys says.
The cities dropped from the list this year include Boulder and Colorado Springs in Colorado and Boise, ID.
But the Boise Bicycle Project sees life after death. It’s going ahead with its own fundraiser this summer. “We don’t like to use the word ‘replace’ Tour de Fat. We’re not doing the same thing but we’re doing something very unique to Boise and using the momentum and tools New Belgium gave us (to help) build a bicycle community over the last 13 years,” Project Executive Director Jimmy Hallyburton explains.
On Saturday, Aug. 4, the project plans “the world’s first and only Goat Head Festival,” in satirical honor of the invasive plant that has become literally the thorn in the tire of Boise trail riders.
Tour de Fat has raised about $500,000 for biking in Boise over the last 13 years and while New Belgium isn’t doing the work or sponsoring the event, it hasn’t completely abandoned the city. New Belgium is donating beer for a Goat Head planning event. “When people found they weren’t coming back, they were irritated and were upset about it. What people didn’t realize is New Belgium came into town and gave us the tools to create our own festival,” Hallyburton says.
“Of course, if they wanted to come back to Boise, we’d welcome them with open arms but we’re excited about creating something unique to Boise,” Hallyburton says.
For more information, see the calendar in this issue under events and visit: newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat
For more information on the Boise Bicycle Project, visit: boisebicycleproject.org