New Belgium Brewing, the Fort Collins-based brewery with the iconic cruiser bike logo and best known for its Fat Tire Amber Ale, raised more than $90,000 on September 3 for the Overland Mountain Bike Club, Bike Fort Collins, and Fort Collins Bike Co-op at its Tour de Fat event in Fort Collins, then raised more than $60,000 in Denver on September 10 for Bike Denver and the Denver Cruiser Ride (don't miss photographer Brandon Marshall's slideshow of the 50 Best Costumes from Tour de Fat Denver).
"We look forward all year to Tour de Fat because it's the largest celebration of bicycles in Denver," reports Piep van Huevan, executive director of Bike Denver. "The money raised at Tour de Fat will support the advocacy work we do to make Denver a better place to ride bikes; and everyone benefits when we live in a bicycle friendly community."
As fundraiser events go, the Tour de Fat "FUNdraiser of sustainable folly" model is about as laid-back as it gets: Invite a bunch of people on a free and meandering bike parade through town, then ply them with beer and food at a circus-like after-party. More than 20,000 cyclists participated in the Fort Collins parade in Civic Center Park near the New Belgium "Mothership" -- a Tour de Fat record, coinciding with the brewery's 20th anniversary -- and spokeswoman Jenny Foust estimates as many as 10,000 attended the smaller Denver event in City Park. A portion of sales from the beer tents and of commemorative 2011 Tour de Fat bike license plates and other merchandise at each event go to the designated organizations.
"Tour de Fat is such a valuable economic resource for the Fort Collins Community," Ron Chambers, of the Overland Mountain Bike Club, said last week. "The money raised each year is used not only to fund the trail projects and community bike advocacy programs, but also for an economic stimulus for the larger community. The money raised at this year's Tour de Fat will also help fund Overland's 'Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day', where one hundred kids from the community will be introduced to the bike in a whole new way."
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Overland's Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day event, presented in association with the International Mountain Bicycling Association, will be held on October 1 at Lory State Park.
The thirteen-stop 2011 Tour de Fat heads to San Francisco on September 24, followed by events in San Diego, Los Angeles, Tempe, and Austin. For more information visit www.NewBelgium.com/Tour-de-Fat.