Tour de Fat jilts Seattle and Portland; 13 cities on tap in 2011

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The Tour de Fat's long-running costumed celebration of bikes and beer won't be rousing the inner-cyclist of Seattle and Portland this year.

New Belgium Brewery's popular traveling bicycle-beer fest is bypassing the Pacific Northwest's two great bicycling cities to add Durham, NC, and Nashville, TN, to its 13-city nationwide tour (full list and dates below).

The news will be a disappointment to the 4,000-some bike lovers in Seattle and the smaller crowd of 1,750 in Portland last year who rode in the bike parade, and enjoyed the entertainers, beer and goofy bikes that made the show special.


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.

Moving on

Someone associated with New Belgium left an explanation at the Tour de Fat Facebook page:

“After eleven years in Seattle and six years in Portland, the Tour de Fat is moving on to spread the bike love to Durham, NC and Nashville, TN. 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.”

Or, it's been fun, but it's time we see other people.

Traditions die

This news comes a little hard, especially after Seattle and Portland lost out on two other annual bicycling traditions this year.

In December, the Urban Assault Ride announced it was dropping Seattle, Portland and Berkeley from its roster this summer. A need to focus on fewer cities and the relatively low attendance in those three cities was to blame. New Belgium Brewery is one of that event's sponsors.

Earlier, the Livestrong Foundation announced that it had picked Philadelphia, Austin, and Davis, CA as host cities for the Livestrong Challenge cancer fund-raisers for 2011. Either Portland or Seattle had hosted a ride every year from 2005 to 2010.

2011 Tour de Fat rides

If you're unfamiliar with Tour de Fat, it's a free festival thrown by the New Belgium, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based brewery that makes a number of beers, including Fat Tire. The event pushes a sustainable lifestyle, so more than 90 percent of the waste is recycled or composted. The equipment travels in trucks that burn  biofuel and the vendors operate off the gird.

The highlight of each festival is a contest where a person agrees to trade in their car for a bicycle.

Here's the list of Tour de Fat cities this summer. Some of the dates are still tentative, as noted:

Durham, NC — June 25 (tentative)
Nashville, TN — July 9 (tentative)
Chicago — July 16
Minneapolis — July 23
Milwaukee — July 30
Boise — Aug. 20
Ft. Collins — Sept. 3
Denver — Sept. 10
San Francisco — Sept. 24
San Diego — Oct. 1 (tentative)
Los Angeles — Oct. 8
Tempe — Oct. 15
Austin — Oct. 22

Although the schedule is posted on Facebook, the official Tour de Fat webpage still had last year's dates and locations. No gathering points for the celebrations in those cities are listed yet.

Photo at top: Sprockettes entertain at 2008 Tour de Fat; above, Tour de Fat bike parade.

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