Tour de Fat Rolls Into Tempe

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Health & Fitness Issue: October 2015
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Tour de FatNew Belgium Brewing’s annual Tour de Fat brings brews and bikes together for a community-oriented event that’s one part family festival, one part New Orleans street bash. Each stop in the 10-city tour starts with a cycling parade through the city, featuring participants decked out in costumes as wild and outrageous as a Mardi Gras float.

Everyone is invited, from seasoned cyclists to hipster hobbyists hoping to save a few bucks by going carless. “Maybe you already bike all over town, or you’re a weekend warrior, or just a little bike-curious,” says New Belgium Brewing’s Matt Kowal. “If so, this is for you. It’s a summer stew of sorts where we all come together, let our alter egos shine with no inhibitions.”

The nationwide tour concludes on Saturday, October 3, at Tempe Beach Park. After the parade at 11 a.m., bike enthusiasts can kick back with fashion shows, bike races, live tunes from Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, vaudeville-style circus shows and a massive 1,000-person dance-off for a slick New Belgium cruiser bike. Brewery reps will be on-hand in the Lips Lounge tapping new offerings including Pear Ginger, Le Terroir and Carnie’s Blood.

The focus here is on human-powered commuting, so all beer proceeds and donations benefit local cycling groups Bike Saviours, Mountain Bike Association of Arizona, Tempe Bicycle Action Group (TBAG) and Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol. According to local cyclist and TBAG board member Preston Swan, Tour de Fat’s strong community aspect attracts first-timers as much as the beer and bikes. “The atmosphere is so exciting and inviting that it doesn't alienate new bikers, but [the festival] has enough established vendors and locals there to keep the pros coming back for more,” he says.

Swan offered five biking tips to help locals gear up for Tour de Fat and keep the two-wheeled fun rolling throughout the year.

1. Choose your Weapon: A good experience starts with selecting the appropriate bike. “If your commute is less than a mile or two, you can probably get away with a beach cruiser,” says Swan. “It's a simple and smooth ride.” For longer or more graded rides, a road bike offers greater stability and traction.

2. Get on Course: Papago Park is Swan’s go-to choice for leisurely riding. “You can't beat that kind of iconic desert scenery,” he says, “and it's just removed enough to get that out-of-the-city feel.” Tempe Town Lake’s paved pathways are short and very family-friendly, while the 14-mile Arizona Canal Trail or the longer light rail route offers greater challenge and variety.

3. Prepare for Disaster: Carry a small emergency kit with patches, bike tools including Allen wrenches and screwdrivers, bike pump, light, and water. “I never leave home with less,” says Swan.

4. Safety First: Lights and helmets are a must. Drink plenty of fluids, and don’t be afraid to take a few minutes in the shade to avoid overheating in the strong desert sun. Also, be aware of your equipment’s limitations. “Don't take a road bike on rocky trail, or a beach cruiser on a fast ride,” quips Swan.

5. Group Together: If you’re uneasy about tackling urban terrain alone, try tagging along on a group ride. “Communication is key,” says Swan. “If you are new, talk to the group before you leave so you don't end up on a ride way faster than you expected.” During the trek, group members will often warn each other of upcoming obstacles or unexpected turns in the road – essential information for fledgling cyclists.

If you go:
Tour De Fat at Tempe Beach Park
80 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe


Tour de Fat