Sep 162007
 
Authors: Jen Johnson

I developed a fondness for biking and bike parades at a young age.

As a kid, I spent many lazy afternoons making laps around our cul-de-sac on my pink banana seat bike, complete with a handlebar basket decorated in plastic flowers. Every Fourth of July, all of the neighborhood kids would decorate their bikes with red, white and blue streamers and take a lap around the neighborhood to show off our wheels.

Today, I still bike for the pleasure of it, but over the years riding a bicycle has started to mean much more to me.

It is therefore not surprising that my favorite day of the year is a celebration of cycling, New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat. For those of you not familiar with this event (shame on you), let me bring you up to speed.

The Tour de Fat is the signature event of our very own New Belgium Brewery. It features a costumed bike parade around Fort Collins followed by a massive party/music festival at the brewery. In addition to all of that, The Tour de Fat raises money for local nonprofit organizations.

If you are a bike person, a costume person, a party person or a person committed to the common good, then the Tour de Fat is an event that you don’t want to miss.

In my opinion, The Tour de Fat is one of the true spectacles of our town.

You will see people in ridiculous costumes riding even more ridiculous bicycles.

If you attend the event this year, keep your eyes peeled for the bike whose tires are completely made out of shoes, any number of high bikes, low riders, side cars, trailers carrying dogs, and the grand daddy of them all, the chariot bike. This bike literally features two horses made of metal and a metal chariot, all powered by bicycle pedaling. Quite frankly, the chariot bike is one of the coolest transport vehicles I have ever seen. You will not be disappointed if you see it.

This year my Tour de Fat crew will be sporting a “Christmas” theme, complete with 8 tiny reindeer, Santa Claus bearing gifts, elves, and a boom box blasting Christmas carols for all to enjoy. My seven-month-old Puggle puppy will even be forced to endure wearing a miniature red nose to authenticate his role as Rudolph. Typing this makes me smile.

Aside from all of the hullabaloo, I love this event because it allows people to have fun and it reminds me what an amazing bike community we have in Fort Collins.

In my humble opinion, Fort Collins is one of the most bike friendly communities in the nation. The city is outfitted with numerous bike lanes, hosts an annual Bike to Work Day, and is the home to “the Bike Against Collective, the Bike Co-op, the SMART Fair, Ram Wheels, and Cyclical Collections. If there ever was a community that encourages bike riding, Fort Collins is it.

If you haven’t integrated biking into your lifestyle, I’d recommend giving it a try.

I started biking to work every day a few years ago and it has been an incredibly positive lifestyle change for me.

Compared with driving my car, I find that I am happier, more appreciative of my surroundings, and calmer when I am riding my bike. My daily commute to work is actually one of the MOST enjoyable parts of my day! It also makes me feel good that I am building healthy exercise into my daily routine and that I’m making a smaller environmental impact on our planet.

A friend of mine once said to me, “What’s good for your health is good for your pocketbook is good for the environment.” His point was, whether you are a person trying to integrate exercising into your lifestyle, save some money at the gas pump (or on car insurance, or car repairs, or car maintenance), or leave a smaller footprint on our fine earth, commuting by bicycle is a GREAT way to kill three birds with one stone.

So this weekend, let’s raise our Tour de Fat mugs and make a toast to bicycling, fun, and our great community of Fort Collins which makes it all possible! See you at The Tour!

Jen Johnson is the Assistant Director for the Office for Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE). This year will be her 3rd Tour de Fat. Her column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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