Tour De Fat at Tempe Beach Park: A Field Guide to Saturday's Event

Attendees of 2012's Tour De Fat in Tempe.
Attendees of 2012's Tour De Fat in Tempe.
Benjamin Leatherman

A small bit of advice to the beer-loving, bike-riding crowd: You'd better keep Sunday completely free of any obligation whatsoever. Why? Because you might need it to recuperate from all the beer-loving, bike-riding fun that you'll be getting into during Tour De Fat at Tempe Beach Park on Saturday.

And based on what we've witnessed at the event over the last several years, you're probably going to get into a lot of both activities.

See also: Viva Bike Arizona Aims to "Change the Conversation" About Bicycling Statewide

As its alliterative tagline of "beer, bikes, and bemusement" indicates, Tour De Fat is a mad traveling carnival of cycling, suds, and surreal scenes that takes place in the great outdoors with a few thousand potential drinking buddies.

Some will be dressed in costume or cruising about on art bikes and decorated rides, while others will be busy playing games, checking out weird-looking and pedal-driven curiosities scatted about the park, or checking out the sideshow-like array of live entertainment. And pretty much everyone at the New Belgium Brewing-sponsored event will downing plastic cups filled with Fat Tire or its other signature and seasonal beers.

Fun times and funny outfits from last year's Tour De Fat in Tempe.
Fun times and funny outfits from last year's Tour De Fat in Tempe.
Jeremiah Toller

Upcoming Events

If you weren't able to make it out to last weekend's similarly themed Biketoberfest at The Handlebar due to the rain, consider Tour De Fat as a way to make up for it, or just an excuse to drink to excess and enjoy one of the last few warm weekends before cooler temps prevail while celebrating the cult of the bicycle.

Since there's going to be a frantic fracas of activity, we've assembled a guide to Saturday's event detailing everything you need to know in order to get the most out of the experience, save for dealing with the inevitable hangover you're bound to have afterwards.

Time/Place: Saturday, October 4, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Tempe Beach Park, 54 West Rio Salado Parkway, with the annual Bike Parade running from 11 a.m. to noon.

Prices: Admission is free, but -- naturally -- you have to pay for the beer. If you're feeling generous, donations can be made online beforehand, which will go to the local cycling organizations that TDF benefits and get you some free schwag (such as bike lights, mini-license plates, and patches).

Age Limits: The event is open to all ages. However, certain areas at the event, such as beer gardens, are restricted to those of legal drinking age.

Getting There: Since biking is the M.O. of Tour De Fat, practically everyone in attendance will be pedaling to the event and there will be plenty of racks available for locking up your ride. Given that the park is located about a block away from the METRO Light Rail station at Mill Avenue and Third Street, you can also go that route, especially if you're planning to drink (which we assume is the primary reason you're going).

The Bike Parade during last year's Tour De Fat in Tempe hits the streets.
The Bike Parade during last year's Tour De Fat in Tempe hits the streets.
Jeremiah Toller

The whole nature of Tour De Fat is very anti-automobile, but If for those who absolutely must drive, there will be parking available nearby at the Mission Palms Hotel, 281 South Mill Avenue, for $2 per hour, and at the Hayden Ferry Lakeside Garage, 68 East Rio Salado, where you'll be charged $1 every 20 minutes (ouch!).

Weather: Unlike last Saturday, the skies will be clear and the sun will be bright with absolutely no chance of rain. Per the current forecast, temperatures will be around 95 degrees.

Water: And because you're likely to be sweating (and drinking) to excess, it's best to stay hydrated as much as possible. As such, there will be free water spigots set up at a few points around the park. Heck, it might even be best to space things out by drinking water between each beer (at the very least, it will allow you to pace yourself).

Food: Since man (or women) cannot live on hops and barley alone, a number of local food trucks will be slinging grub at Tempe Beach Park during Tour De Fat.

Multiple empty cups is a sign of endurance at Tour De Fat.
Multiple empty cups is a sign of endurance at Tour De Fat.
Benjamin Leatherman

Beer: One of the main reasons you're going to Tour De Fat, right? If so, you'll have plenty to choose from. According to New Belgium's website, a total of 11 beers will be available at the Tempe stop of the tour, all of which will be from the brewer (natch). The selection includes old favorites like Fat Tire and Shift Pale Lager, as well as 1554 Black Lager, Ranger IPA, Snapshot Wheat, New Belgium and 3Floyds Gratzer, La Folie Sour Brown Ale, Rampant Imperial IPA, Gruit Ale, and a blood orange saison called Carnie Blood.

Attendees can purchase "beer tokens" for $5 apiece, and each will be good for a 16-ounce beer of your choosing. Also, beers can only be purchased one at a time.  

They've got bike space for days at Tour De Fat.
They've got bike space for days at Tour De Fat.
Maria Vassett

What to Bring: First off, your bike, since it's de rigueur for the event. That extends to any sort of pedal-operated wheeled vehicle, whether its got one, two, three, or more wheels. (Who knows? Maybe that Tour De Tavern thing will show up at Tour De Fat.)

But if you don't have a bicycle, tricycle, or even a unicycle, see if you can borrow one from a friend (provided they're not going) or consider renting a ride from one of Tempe's many bike shops.

Secondly, wear a costume -- which is very much encouraged at Tour De Fat, particularly if it's weird, wild, unique, or creative -- and decorate your bike. Group or themed outfits are a plus, and the best efforts will be showcased during a fashion show of sorts (complete with red carpet) that takes place at noon.

Straight outta Mad Max.
Straight outta Mad Max.
Benjamin Leatherman

Beyond that, be sure to wear sunscreen and bring a hat, sunglasses, or an umbrella to protect yourself from the blazing sun.

It also should be noted that cash is preferred, since it takes less transaction time than a credit or debit card (and believe us, you don't want a crowd of frustrated drinkers behind you growing angrier while you fumble around with your wallet). That said, plastic will be accepted.

What Not to Bring: No mind-altering substances -- other than the beer -- will be allowed, nor will any outside food or drinks. Weapons, chains, and similar contraband isn't permitted. A crappy or combative attitude (or any attitude, period) won't fly either.

A pratfall in progress in the Bike Corral at last year's Tour De Fat.
A pratfall in progress in the Bike Corral at last year's Tour De Fat.
Jeremiah Toller

What to Do: Drink beer, ride bikes, and have fun, duh, with many opportunities for each. For starters, there will be the bike parade beforehand (see below), as well as a slow ride race, and a "1,000 Person Dance Contest" for a free New Belgium cruiser. The main stage will also host such live entertainment as The Yo-Yo Show and Vaudeville/comedy act The Handsome Little Devils, as well as bands like folk-rockers Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

Distractions will also be in abundance. Besides a selection of funky contraptions to ride -- like a modified bikes, strange devices, or cycles with wheels made from tennis shoes in the bike corral -- there will be various games and possibly attractions like the "port-a-karaoke," which, just like it sounds, involves karaoke in an unsoiled (thankfully) portable toilet. The Le Tigre Tent will also offer oddities aplenty, such as "Princess America's Favorite Drunk Elephant" and the "Yo-Yo Astronaut."

And then there's the annual "Car for Bike Trade," one of TDF's hallmarks, where a local resident will volunteer to give up their car for an entire year in exchange for a stipend of up to $2,250 to build or buy their "dream bicycle." And if you're at all interested in being that person, organizers are still looking for someone willing to make the trade (e-mail stevie@biketempe.org for more info or to sign up).

Local musician Eric Palmer participates in the "Car for Bike Trade" during Tour De Fat in 2012.
Local musician Eric Palmer participates in the "Car for Bike Trade" during Tour De Fat in 2012.
Benjamin Leatherman

Bike Parade: It's become one of the biggest traditions of the event and involves hundreds of riders following a two-mile route around a couple of the surrounding neighborhoods. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the parade starts an hour later.

Pre-Parties: In case you missed out on any of the official pre-gaming that happened earlier this week at Mellow Mushroom or The Yard, there are still a couple warm-up events and group rides left to go.

Later tonight, riders can attend a "tap takeover" that's planned from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday night at The Handlebar.

After-parties: None have been announced as of this writing, but many attendees are likely to gather at bike-friendly bars nearby like Tempe's Front Porch, Boulders on Broadway, Handlebar, and Casey's.

Lineup and Schedule:

Here's the complete listing of when and where to be during Tour De Fat on Saturday, as well as who's performing.

Main schedule:

10 a.m. - Bike Parade registration 11 a.m. - Bike Parade start Noon - Fashion and costume show 12:20 p.m. - The Reals Band (rock/Americana) 1:20 p.m. - The Slow Ride Race 1:40 p.m. - The Handsome Little Devils (Vaudeville/comedy) 2:30 p.m. - Car for Bike Trade 2:45 p.m. - Yo-Yo People (yo-yo tricks and stunts) 3:35 p.m. - 1,000 Person Dance Contest 4:00 p.m. - Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (soul music) 5:00 p.m. - Grand Finale

Le Tigre Tent schedule:

12:15 p.m. - Your Best Self 12:45 p.m. - Lily Lily Lily 1:15 p.m. - Yo-Yo Astronaut 1:45 p.m. - Princess America's Favorite Drunk Elephant 2:15 p.m. - Magic Brian 3:00 p.m. - ScotNery 4:20 p.m. - Ssssnake

What to Expect:

Note: This blog was updated after its original publication to add and clarify additional schedule info.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Use Current Location

Related Location

miles
Tempe Beach Park

54 W. Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ 85281

480-350-8625

www.tempe.gov/lake


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >