The 18th annual Fat Tire Tour de Fat will host its final leg of bikes, brews, music and philanthropy at Tempe Town Lake on October 7.
It is the show’s 12th time cruising the Arizona streets, raising money for bike safety and encouraging free spirit.
“You have the ability to throw on a masquerade mask or a wig or some funny sunglasses or, you know, maybe a tutu… And you can just turn off and celebrate with a couple thousand people in the park and enjoy a day of music and beers and bikes,” Tour de Fat production manager Paul Gruber says.
New Belgium Brewing kick-started the tour in 1999 as a way to showcase their unique craft beer, Fat Tire, and engage in community outreach.
“One of New Belgium’s very strong original core values and beliefs was being a corporate source for good and change and not always being bottom line-driven, but being able to go into these communities and give back,” Gruber says.
Tour de Fat expanded its reach for the 2017 season, spanning 33 cities across the country.
“For as big as we’ve gotten, we’ve definitely been able to keep our roots,” Gruber says. “To keep what’s cool about our culture and to keep it unique, it’s been a really great thing.”
All of the proceeds raised from each show’s food, drink, merchandise and ticket sales are given back to the community through an array of local nonprofit organizations that promote bicycle safety.
“There are four different nonprofits that benefit from Tour de Fat (Tempe). Those four nonprofits split the funds almost equally,” Patrick Valandra, president of Tempe Bicycle Action Group, says. “All of the funds are returned to the community in some way, whether that be the light giveaways, advocacy or gathering money to put up bike totems.”
Last year’s profits totaled just under $515,000 for all nine cities the tour visited.
But bicyclists are not the only people who benefit from New Belgium’s dedication to Tour de Fat. Mother Nature does, too. The company has encompassed its long-standing sustainability values into how its festivals are run.
“In recent years, we added a layer of a sustainability nonprofit partner to come out to the show to help us with our waste aversion,” Gruber says.
The day’s philanthropic roots are not the highlight, however. Attendees are encouraged to participate in an assortment of events including the slow-ride competition, a fashion show to showcase the most creative costumes, a dance competition and musical performances from Michael Franti and Spearhead.
“For a long time, the tagline of New Belgium was ‘Follow your Folly’ and people are encouraged to be whimsical and to be themselves and to think outside the box… so that free-flowing information and ideas can be cultivated,” Gruber says.
For those returning to Tour de Fat, the layout of the festival will be slightly different than years past. The event begins as a street fair on Mill Avenue at 11 a.m.
Vendors will line the street from 3rd Avenue to 7th Street and a bicycle parade will take place at noon. Doors to Tempe Town Lake open at 3 p.m. for the official Tour de Fat festival.
“It will be a good time to just hang out in the street and show off your cruiser bike, your costume or just get into the spirit of the day and have some fun riding around on the street before we get into the park,” Gruber says.
Tour de Fat, Tempe Town Lake, 80 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, October 7, $25.
STILL SEARCHING FOR A SWEET SET OF TOUR DE FAT WHEELS?
State Rideshop offers bikes, boards, service and apparel for your commute, whether you want to cruise to class or win Tour de Fat’s famous slow-ride competition. State Rideshop is located in the heart of Tempe and carries over 15 brands of fixies, mountain bikes, skateboards, fat bikes, longboards and more.
Need a tune-up before the festival? State Rideshop also offers an abundance of service options, from cleaning overhauls to flat tire fixes to handlebar swaps. The store has a mechanic team on staff, ready to service any bike that comes their way, no matter where it was originally purchased. And while you’re there, you can look through the store’s apparel section to add the final touches to your Tour de Fat costume.
State Rideshop, 922 E. Apache Boulevard, Suite #108, Tempe, 602.253.4653, Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.