Shift Gears & Get Weird: 19th annual Tour de Fat brings bikes, beer and sustainability to Tempe

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Local bikers and drinkers, many clad in costumes, will hit Tempe Beach Park on October 6 to celebrate the “greatest little show on earth,” or the Tour de Fat, hosted by New Belgium Brewing Company.

Entering its 19th year, the six-city tour aims to celebrate local music, entertainment, alcohol and, most importantly, bicycles with live shows and a variety of activities. Tour de Fat has raised over $5 million for local bicycle non-profits.

College Times reporter Eric Newman asked New Belgium spokesperson Jesse Claeys about what first-timers should expect, and the best parts about the event.

What, in your opinion, is the best part of Tour de Fat?
Oh man, so many great parts. As a company, we’re very proud that each Tour de Fat stop raises money and awareness for our non-profit partners. In Tempe, this event benefits Tempe Bicycle Action Group, Bike Saviours, Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol and Mountain Biking Association of Arizona, all great organizations that do amazing work advancing sustainable transportation and recreation. Since the inception of TDF, New Belgium has been able to donate over $5 million to worthy organizations across the nation. Aside from the great philanthropic side of TDF, the performers are amazing, and the bicycle ride – where costumes are encouraged – is an absolute blast. The day puts the “fun” back in fundraising.

What about Tempe and Arizona culture make for a good event host?
Tempe knows how to party and has long supported bikes, craft beer and revelry, so the town always turns out to, as we say, shift gears and get weird.

What are some of the best reactions you’ve gotten to Tour de Fat?
I love talking to people attending their first Tour de Fat. They’re always amazed by the amount of creativity and artistry on display, and typically feel a renewed sense of community. Sprinkle on top of that some delicious New Belgium beers, and it’s hard not to have a perma-grin at Tour de Fat.

Do you have a favorite memory from a festival you’ve gone to?
Just last week at the Tour de Fat in Fort Collins, as some amazing musicians played on stage, I found myself standing next to a group dressed as characters from the movie Wayne’s World – including the crazy ex-girlfriend Stacy – and a guy rolled by on a giant homemade hamster wheel type contraption. Where else are you going to experience that.

Why is it so important to give back to local bicycle nonprofits?
Fat Tire was born on a bike seat, and features a bicycle on the label, so cycling is ingrained into New Belgium’s DNA. We’ve always supported nonprofit organizations working hard to advance sustainable transportation. The reasons to do so are numerous. Opting to ride instead of drive has a positive impact on the environment. It provides a fun form of exercise. Those are a couple main ones. Oftentimes, efforts to strengthen the local scene are grassroots and have a challenging time securing funding. We’ve seen so many times that if we all come together to support these organizations, the work they can do is incredibly impactful.

Tour de Fat, Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, newbelgium.com/events/tour-de-fat/tour-de-fat-2018-tempe, Saturday, October 6, 3 to 8 p.m., $15.

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