Bountiful Bikes, Boisterous Beers invade Golden Gate Park


September 27, 2015BY Jeff Starr

New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat 2015 made its annual pilgrimage to Golden Gate Park on September 19th on an uncharacteristically scaldingly hot September afternoon. The day was filled with endless bicycle philanthropy efforts, reverie and entertainment for all ages, and specialty brews only found at the event.

As with most large-scale public events, there is a set intention. For Fort Collins Colorado’s golden brewery, that is:

  1. Increase awareness and participation in cycling as a sustainable form of transportation.
  2. Curate a family friendly atmosphere.
  3. Offer some creative brews only found at the event.
  4. Raise money for bicycle and environmental charities.

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The Saturday festivities kicked off with a bike parade through San Francisco. The purpose is to have participants dress up in their most zany costumed attire, but most riders leaned toward comfort over creative. However, this bike tour of hundreds (if not thousands) of pedalers succeeds in that it encouraged participants to take the two-wheeled mode of transportation to the party.  Anecdotally, this year my wife and I drove to the park to alleviate travel as she’s in her 39th week of pregnancy. We found parking within a half city block of the entrance and noted numerous other open spaces for cars. The San Francisco Bike Coalition organized bike valet was completely filled and overflowing onto adjacent trees and fencing, signaling another successful year of attendees jettisoning their cars for bikes and embracing the essence of the event.

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Here are some of the other afternoon highlights that illustrate how well New Belgium hits the mark with Tour de Fat. Please note, comments are as seen through the eyes of a guy in his mid-30’s who A) works for an event production company, B) has an extremely pregnant wife, C) once worked for one of New Belgium’s craft beer competitors (Boston Beer Company), and D) got his Graduate School Degree in Recreation and Parks Leisure Studies. Here you go:

  • They bring beers you can only get on the tour such as the Carnie Blood – a blood orange radler – perfect on a hot day.
  • There is a bike rodeo corral where you can cruise circles in bizarrely welded and fabricated rides such as a 36” wheeled cruiser.
  • There are activities for the entire family: kids areas craft zones; giant connect four; a throw-the-bike-tube-around-a-large-maypole game; extreme kaleidoscope, and giant bubble machines.
  • Dogs are welcome, encourage and revered by all in attendance.
  • Tour de Fat is entirely self-sustainable and raises nearly a half million dollars for local bike coalitions annually around the country.
  • New Belgium master brewers and local reps are onsite. They’re well versed in the nuances off all their eclectic offerings such as the the before mentioned Carnie Blood, Cocoa Mole (Chocolate, cinnamon and chilies) and Hot Tart (a hoppy, tropical sour).
  • Partnering with the SF Recreation and Parks department, the event succeeds in providing family friendly entertainment, music and enrichment while preserving the local environment and leaving no trace in the local community.

Thoughtfully curated headlining music from Nahko and Medicine for the People, as well as madcap vaudeville entertainment on the Stage Stage form the Superfriends Variety Hour.

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