July 4th Weekend Redux #2: Tour de Fat

This post will feature some images from some other local bike geeks who are great photographers. Read the BFW’s blog for a review from their perspective.

New Belgim Brewing Company’s rolling carnival of all things bicycle hit Milwaukee for the first time this weekend.  The Tour de Fat is a bicycle festival with beer, not the other way around. New Belgium is the maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a number of other tasty belgian style beers. Fat Tire is named after a trip taken through Belgium by one of the owner’s. The Brewery puts on the festival in 13 cities around the country to promote bicycles as transportation.  The festival is all solar powered and all the waste is composted.  Further, the event raises money for a local non-profit in each city.

This was the first year they came to Milwaukee.  I gave a tour to a New Belgium rep last year and she was impressed enough with Milwaukee to pick us over Madison, both of which were in contention to be added to the 2010 calendar. The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin was the local non-profit that found the 100 volunteers and acted as local coordinator.

The glamorous and generous Sara just before she gave me her bike. Photo by Russell Jobs

The festival always begins with a bike parade in which people are encouraged to wear costumes and ride funky bikes.  Anyone who knows me will confirm you don’t have to twist my arm to get me to wear a costume.  Knowing I had a perfect costume, I whined enough to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, and they let me lead the ride.  But right as the gun went off, my rear tire went flat!  I was the only one who knew the full route and was feaking out.

Me on the Schwinn Sarah leant me. Photo by Russell Jobs

With perfect calm, Sarah, a woman riding next to me, offered here sweet Schwinn cruiser for me to ride.  I took it with a big “THANK YOU,” gave her Oma, and started pedalling.  Sarah later caught up to me in the parade and told me what she stashed my bike at the BFW tent, ran home and got another bike.  She lives nearby Humboldt Park where the Tour de Fat was based.  Needless to say Sarah rules since she single-handedly saved the parade. 

I estimated there were 600-800 people in the parade.  I heard from a friend in Chicago that their parade was much smaller than that.  Way to go Milwaukee! The event was super fun.  The entertainment was really great, as of course was the beer. They gave away a custom commuter bike to a local guy who offered to give up his car.  He gave them his Saturn (which they will sell and give the money to the BFW) and he got a SWEET Black Sheep Bicycles commuter all built up.

The creepy Tour de Fat minions take this car apart and in a bizarre stage show, magically transform it into a custom commuter bicycle.

Free at last, free at last... Another happy car-free person in Milwaukee, courtesy New Belgium and Black Sheep Bicycles.

This husband/wife act managed to enthrall all ages by combining just enough pg-13 humor with juggling and slack line walking with audience participation.

This festival was really family friendly.  There were loads of kids biking in the parade, and many families stayed for the food and entertainment held througout the day.  All the bands were really great, especially Mucca Pazza from Chicago.  But all the acts on both the main stage and the side show stage were great  Food was provided by a number of local favorites, including Cafe Centraal, The Palomino Bar and Mamasita’s Vegan and Vegitarian Tamales.

As I get the files, I am going to add more guest photo images below that I feel really captured the spirit of the whole event. The short video below by local photo legend Scott Winkelbleck begins with me as Evel Clownievel and pal Jason in his “moneky in a man suit.”  The music is fittingly Mucca Pazza.

They announced the day of, that the event raised $12,000 for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and Growing Power. But even more than that, it was a great time and really fulfilled the mission of promoting using bicycles for fun and transportation.  I hope the crew from New Belgium comes back again next year.


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bicycles, Rides and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to July 4th Weekend Redux #2: Tour de Fat

  1. Chris K says:

    I thought the event was awesome and also hope they make a return trip!

    The attendance was great for the parade, but felt a little sparse during the day – – just wondering if there was too much competition with other things going on in MKE?

    Missed the loop through South Shore Park though….

  2. Michael says:

    It was really great to have something as awesome as this happen a mile from my house! Hope they make it an annual thing.

    I put up some photos/link to more photos on my blog, if you want to see. http://berrylies.blogspot.com/2010/07/tour-de-fat.html

  3. BikeFed says:

    We’re glad you enjoyed Tour de Fat. It went way beyond our expectations for a first-time event. We are saddened, however, that you didn’t include a still photo of yourself in costume in this blog post, Dave.

    You can read our round-up of the event on our blog: http://bikefed.blogspot.com/2010/07/thanks-for-great-tour-de-fat.html

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