Tour de Fat is dead. Long live Tour de Fat.

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I mentioned in a previous post that the Tour de Fat has been cancelled for 2008. And, most likely, beyond.

The bash of bands, bad wigs and binge drinking known as Tour de Fat won’t be coming to Flagstaff this fall, and possibly won’t ever return.

Finding Wheeler Park too small, the growing crowds too drunk and the overall scene too dangerous, New Belgium Brewing Company is pulling the plug on its bicycle extravaganza, saying they’ve lost support at City Hall.

…”As more and more folks discover the TDF, sadly not all of them have come for the purpose of moving the bicycle to the forefront of transportation,” the New Belgium wrote in a statement. “Instead they have focused on pushing revelry to new heights.”
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New Belgium ran that show. Flagstaff Biking Organization provided the volunteers, but New Belgium called the shots. They picked the bands, they controlled the vendors, they brought the beer. They controlled the keg count.

They brought two hundred kegs of beer and then were surprised people got loaded.

And FBO comes up with the short end of the stick.

Flagstaff Biking Organization and the Northern Arizona Pride Association will each lose a major fundraiser with the cancellation of Tour de Fat, which brought in a total of $57,000 last year for the two groups.

…The hit of $39,000 to Flagstaff Biking Organization will remove half of the organization’s budget, Executive Director Melissa Dunstan said.

The core of what the group does — trail-building days, guided rides for kids, Bike-to-Work week gifts and food, and the quarterly newsletter, Biopic — will all be scaled back unless funds are found elsewhere, Dunstan said.

FBO does a lot of positive things in our community. I hope they can continue to do so in the future.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

19 Replies to “Tour de Fat is dead. Long live Tour de Fat.”

  1. Here is an idea: how about us down here in the big bad city of tempe welcome FBO to share in our Tour de Fat?
    I know people from Flag are supposed to hate us down here in the evil city but we are all brothers and sisters of the bike and should come together and help our fellow AZ residents. can you imagine if we had all the riders from Tempe/phoenix AND all of the people from Flag taking over tempe beach park for a day!! what a sight that would be.
    just thought i would throw that out there

  2. “They controlled the keg count.”

    Jonny, et al-

    New Belgium’s job is to sell beer. What should they do if a large, unruly crowd shows up and security is insufficient? Stop selling beer? Would that make anything better? It sounds like they are victims of their own success.


  3. I’ve definitely had my last pint of their beer, not that it was even within spitting distance of my top ten here in beervana anyhow. I’d be fascinated to hear their explanation of how it’s possible to simultaneously hitch their corporate image to grass-roots cycling and torpedo one of the organizations that put the “scene” there in the first place.

  4. I’m REALLY confused as to why a better location wasn’t secured by FBO and NB back in 2006 when it became VERY apparent that Wheeler park was getting too small to host the event…. urr Fort Tuthill fairgrounds anyone?

    Funny part was that I knew at least 20 people this past year that came up to the Flagstaff TDF instead of attending the Tempe TDF. Wassup with that?

  5. “I’ve definitely had my last pint of their beer”

    John, et al–

    While I suspect John is being snarky (here in Seattle we called New Belgium’s flagship product “Flat Tire”), here is a perfect example of a savvy and well-intentioned marketing campaign backfiring. The beer drinking/cycling public is fickle… I think I will email NB and helpfully offer to sit on a focus group so that this doesn’t happen again. I mean, the focus group keg count can’t get past two or three, can it?


  6. “I think I will email NB and helpfully offer to sit on a focus group so that this doesn’t happen again. I mean, the focus group keg count can’t get past two or three, can it?”

    I’m available to participate, as long as they serve something from Elysian or Pike. Fat Tire exists only to allow a Hamm’s tavern to say “yeah, we have microbrew.”

  7. Just because I like to drink a little too much beer sometimes doesn’t change the fact that one of my biggest priorities is to help bring the bicycle to the forefront of transportation. Looks like I’ll be drinking O’Dell’s beer (they also brew some great Belgium beer in Fort Collins…and it’s much better) from here on out instead. I hope FBO finds true support elsewhere.

  8. I’m REALLY confused as to why a better location wasn’t secured by FBO and NB back in 2006 when it became VERY apparent that Wheeler park was getting too small to host the event

    Ray, New Belgium was not interested in moving the event. That’s the bottom line.

  9. Odell’s has about as much to do with Belgium as it does with bicycling. You must belong to the clueless group of drunks who ruined this event for everyone. You don’t see any other Tour de Fat’s being cancelled do you? Clueless bunch of assholes who drink too much and don’t give a shit about riding bicycles or even know or care what the FBO is. I’ll miss All the New Belgium charity, but I won’t miss the drunken, clueless idiots.

  10. …appears like the vision was lost through a beery haze several years ago when the opportunity to scale it down would have been viable…

    …hey, nobody wants to police the fun or be the stick in the mud, but then w/ out it, everybody loses…

    ..shame a good cycling organization, as well as a lotta good cyclist’s & their concerns won’t be addressed due to lack of funding…

  11. It sucks that New Belgium’s not coming back. I was new to the state and TdF ’05 was my introduction to AZ mountain biking, Crazy Jose, Ribsteak, and Garro. It may sound a bit corny, but it was a pivotal event in my biking life, there’s a significant difference in the amount and quality of riding I was doing before and after the event. It certainly wasn’t just about the beer for me, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

  12. I have helped with each of the Tempe TdF’s. This year I helped recruit and supervise the entire volunteer staff. NB repeatedly preaches to the volunteers that it’s not about getting drunk, and that drunks are bad for the image and future viability of the event. They preach that it’s about cycling, it’s about the environment, it’s about a lot of shit…other than getting hammered in public and making a fucking fool of yourself. They know that getting drunk is inherently bad for the event, bad for the volunteers and bad for NB. That’s why the venue is specifically designed to regulate consumption. Why do you think that the beer tickets are 100 yards from the beer? The volumes consumed in Flag have always been impressive. Given that, I’m not surprised that they’ve yanked it, but I’m just as disappointed as all of you.
    NB’s generosity to cycling-based non-profits throughout the country is admirable and I hope that it continues. Sorry that you guys don’t get to partake in the future. But rather than curse them for this decision, how about celebrating the fact that they “gave” your cycling non-profits a shit load of money for several years out of the goodness of their fucking hearts!

  13. Thank you “Doug K.” I’m astounded to hear that somebody out there gets it…

    New Belgium doesn’t have to do this, for anyone. They are doing it because they believe in the non-profits, the communities, the people, and the education about sustainability.

  14. To odell:

    You are quite right, I misspoke about O’Dell’s relationship to Belgium. Nonetheless, they are New Belgium’s largest competitor in Fort Collins and throughout Colorado.

    However, the real passion in your criticism comes from the fact that it was the “clueless bunch of assholes” – myself included – who ruined Tdf’s important funding contribution to FBO. I started mountain biking in Flagstaff as a 15 year old high school student, and have been paying my yearly donation to FBO out of my own pocket (not my parents’, so don’t even go there) since that time. Additionally, as a native of Flagstaff and a person who has dedicated a good portion of her life to promoting cycling as a way of life, I think you are way off in calling the TdF revelers a “clueless bunch of assholes.” Many of those so-called assholes truly are dedicated to making the bicycle the forefront of transportation, and I’m certain you will find many of them commuting and having fun on their bikes all year living out exactly that idea. It’s not always fun riding your bike home from work in the snow, so these people deserve to reward themselves with some good beer.

    As for FBO, I am well acquainted with their ideas and have participated in their events for years; so I am truly disappointed to hear about the challenges they will face due to the loss of TdF in Flag. So before you criticize us “assholes” too much, take a moment to think about the bigger picture.

  15. Melanie I agree Odells and produces a product that is much more palate friendly then NB.

  16. …i’ve never been to the tour de fat in any city, but i wanna say “THANK YOU, NEW BELGIUM, for any past, present or future involvement you might care to share w/ our vast cycling community…’new belgium’ gives back to the community…obviously some folks ‘get it’ while others would rather participate in a personal pissing contest”…

    …”i’m sure, despite any profit & goodwill you may accrue at these events, that it would be easier in a physical sense, to not participate…so, THANK YOU again for having the courage of your convictions in regard to humane concerns…sounds lofty considering you make beer, but i fully understand your accepted responsibilities”…

    …”i raise my beer glass to you”…

  17. NB has watched the event grow into what it has become. No surprise that another venue was needed for this festival to survive. As I said in my Jan 29 post…why not Pine Mountain Ampitheater? I’m sure FBO and the production crew of the Orpheum / PMA could get together and work out a September date. Thanks NB for the concept and execution to date, but have our local breweries, bike shops and bands get together for an independent bike / beer festival. Obviously, this is for a good cause and riders can use the urban trail to get there.

  18. As the Treasurer of the Northern AZ Pride Assn, I would like to thank New Belgium for their tremendous support over the past eight years. They have given our organization well over $100,000 in cash and/or product support. We have loved and valued the relationship that has been built and look forward to continuing that bond. As we greatly regret NB’s decision to pull the tour from Flagstaff this year, we do understand their position and decision. NB continues to support numerous worthy non-profit groups throughout the country. Their charity and goodwill is immeasurable. I wish other businesses had as big a heart.

  19. I too help to organize the Tempe TdF, and personally I would work to put the brakes to the event if started to get like the Flag event too big. Too hard to keep safe. I agree with Doug above. I also sympathize with FBO, the NBB contribution was huge in many ways. There is no way we could pay back everything NBB have enabled for non profits involved in the TdF’s.

    To all those complaining I say it is time to step up. You have outgrown Wheeler Park and Downtown, time to go big. Build a newer bigger better event that can attract more attention and help your cause more than one day downtown.