Tour de Fat promised 3 things – Beer, Bikes, and Bemusement and all three were delivered in glorious quantities. With a picturesque bluebird sky and temps in the mid 90s the attendees were more than ready to let loose. They were decked out and they were THIRSTY!
Bikes – literally thousands of them, everywhere, it was like they were breeding. It was a complete mixed bag of cruisers, road, mountain, single speed, specialized, vintage, new, hig end, low end, custom, etc. If it rode, it was present. The ride was a spectacle all by itself. The queue line to get out on to the street from the park was deep, at least 30 minutes of walking your bike to get to the entrance of the park and out onto 17th Avenue. The parade continued across Colorado Boulevard to Monaco Parkway. Spectators lined the streets on the east side of Colorado, under the trees and on the parkway, providing small impromptu pit stops where parties broke out. Others joined, and some people decided to make a break for a short cut before the official turn around point.
Beer – an ice cold Fat Tire tallboy will never taste this good again, at least not until next year. As with any very well attended festival that serves beer, there should always be more beer stations, but; there is a reason this doesn’t occur, and it’s called control. Sure, waiting in line for another cold one when you are sweating like a whore in church is not fun, but you should be able to enjoy the whole festival that way. If you managed to beat the main group from the parade back, tokens and beers were readily available with very little to no waiting for the first hour. The other form, and supremely necessary because of the heat, of liquid refreshment was water, straight from a tanker truck, bravo! Several trips were necessary to fill water bottles and camelbaks. It’s a marathon not a sprint, hydrate or die.
There were several draft beer stations positioned around the grounds, including a Lips of Faith / Specialty station that rotated new offerings in as kegs ran out, and an all canned beer station featuring tallboys of Fat Tire, Ranger, and Shift. With koozie in hand this was the station to hit.
Bemusement – the star of the festival. Bikes were the cause and the rallying point, beer was the reward and lubrication, this was the true fun. The festival was set up like a carnival with 3 stages for entertainment, – live music, comedy, feats of strength, performances, etc. There was a craft booth area were you could make buttons, koozies (right next to the canned beer), and t-shirts. New Belgium gear was available for purchase, with all proceeds going to local bike charities. Several interactive attractions were also on hand: the crazy bike corral, those contraptions dreamed up and created by the Tour de Fat carnie team of mad bike engineers; The giant picture frame make your own photo booth, The bike spire tire toss, and others.
The real star of the show was the crowd, oh my god do people in Denver like to dress up! There was everything from the requisite bros in funny hats, just throw on a wig, giant sunglasses, a feather boa and tank top, face paint, super hero groups / pairs, fruit and other food, body suits, disco, aloha with grass skirts and coconut bras, to some folks who really put some thought into it….it was all fun, and all worth experiencing. Can’t wait for next year, just have to figure out that running around with a broom between your legs game.
As a side note to the event, this was also going on, right outside the festival. If you happened to see any promotional pictures of Tour de Fat in other cities and had an inkling that they were staged, faked, photoshopped, whatever – you’d be wrong. Very wrong. People get weird here. Lots of crazy costumes and each one is more hilarious than the previous one. Winner takes the prize, and they even get a trophy.
Kudos, New Belgium, for putting on yet another fantastic festival. Until next year….