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Biking Bis: 2011 Tour de Fat skipping Seattle and Portland

The 2010 Tour de Fat

Gene at Biking Bis dropped this terrible news this morning: New Belgium’s popular free touring bike festival Tour de Fat, which has come to Seattle for the past eleven years, will be skipping both Seattle and Portland this year. The Tour cited the active biking scenes in both cities as reasons for skipping the cities this year:

Seattle and Portland, your bike scenes are idyllic (big love) and you’ve had a huge impact on shaping the Tour de Fat over the years. This year we will be spreading the bike culture we all share to new parts of the country where it’s still developing. Thank you for all the good times and great memories.

Well, I can certainly see their reasoning. The Tour probably could do more good in spreading the idea of bicycle fun in other cities in the country. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be super sad about it!

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Aside from missing out on the fun (see our coverage from last year), the Tour raises a lot of money for local bike non-profits. Last year, the festival benefited the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Bike Works. From Biking Bis:

As a fund-raiser to local bicycle-oriented nonprofits, the loss the Tour de Fat in Seattle and Portland also will affect the bottom line at local bike charities.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Bike Works shared $11,500 collected from beer sales and donations in Seattle last year, according to a New Belgium press release. In Portland, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Northwest Trail Alliance shared $7,595.

Also, a person in each city received a new bicycle in return for pledging to give up their car. In all, Tour de Fat got 13 cars off the road last year in the bike-exchange and collected more than $330,000 for charity.

So, it looks like we are going to have to throw our own bike festival at Gas Works Park this summer. We need a stage, a sound system, a beer garden, music, dancing, freak bikes, a costumed bike ride and whatever else we want. Who’s in?

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10 responses to “Biking Bis: 2011 Tour de Fat skipping Seattle and Portland”

  1. daisy

    This is good news for the Bicycle Music Festival. Some of this energy and monies can get shifted to another very good and local bicycle festival.

  2. Sustainable Seattle helped out at last year’s Tour de Fat, staffing the “compost offices” to minimise landfill waste. There’s a good chance we’d be up for doing something similar for the bicycle music festival or a direct TdF substitute event this year.

  3. Rock

    There is really something wrong when New Belgium takes such a historical factor, to support and bring about change, within biking. So my question is why don’t they add tour dates besides money, because you still have to buy tokens for beers as well as still pay more for merchandise. So that basically should pay for he operating costs in non biking areas of the country. Bit when you have such a huge biking community in one place you should make more money than what you are really spending. And if not why not partner up with the city of Seattle or other breweries within the local area to cut the costs and support he overall cause. Just doesn’t seem like they really have though it through.

    1. They spend a *lot* of money on this tour. Between the transport, the full-time staff whose sole job is to co-ordinate the tour each year, the stipends they give to local groups who help and the advertising, it’s not a trivial undertaking. And all revenues are donated to charity – the event took in $11,500 last year but none of it went to New Belgium.

      My guess is that they decided that they’re doing as many dates as they can manage with the current crew, so they should cut the best-established ones. Partly I think they are sincere about supporting cycling (working with them last year left me very impressed on that side of things), and partly the value to them is PR, so it’s a bigger deal in places where they don’t already have a track record.

      1. um… “they should cut” should have read “they decided to cut”. Sorry.

  4. Jon Field

    Glad I found your Bike Blog. Cool. Bad news about the Tour De Fat though. This really sucks. This was so much fun for 11 years, it really feels like they are dumping us, and not just moving on. What can we do to get them back? New Belgium Brewery has been a part of the STP, and the Courage Classic rides for years. Now they are not doing the Courage Classic this year either. Time to boycott Fat Tire……

  5. My wife and I, and at least a few of our friends, are interested in getting involved with any activity regarding a new bicycle event this summer. Anything brewing out there?!?

  6. Aston

    Yeah this doesn’t make any sense especially if they are targeting the bike community. There are many local beer distributors and breweries in Portland that should be more than willing to sponsor a ride and toss some beers at us. Laganitas, Widmer Brothers, Mac & Jack, Rogue, and Deschutes are native to the surrounding Northwest. Why don’t we create an incentive for local businesses to create a “Northwest ride” and showcase our already well-known unique characteristics? Fat Tire has been very generous but we need to have an alternative choice for situations like this.

  7. […] Tour de Fat may be skipping Seattle this year, but New Belgium is making up for it by bringing Clips of Faith to Gas Works Park July 29 […]

  8. John Hammer

    Consider yourselves lucky! Tour De Fat comes to Boise every year, sharing false notions of changing the biking community by selling bad beer. Seattle and Portland were skipped and will continue to be skipped, there are too many good beer options and serious bike advocates that can look past the freak show that happens every Tuesday in Portland anyway. Most people in Boise drive the cars with cruiser bikes in the back to get to this and then drive home drunk, not a bike festival in this town, just and excuse to drink. If you are interested in going back to high school, come to Tour De Fat Boise.

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