Words & Deeds

Hate on new Tour de Fat if you must. But if you love Boise, you’ll still take the ride.

2016 Tour De Fat bike party rides into Boise

Thousands of costumed cyclists made up the 15th annual Tour de Fat parade put on by New Belgium Brewing Company, beginning and ending in Ann Morrison Park on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. The Tour de Fat is a fundraiser for three Boise cycling advocacy
Up Next
Thousands of costumed cyclists made up the 15th annual Tour de Fat parade put on by New Belgium Brewing Company, beginning and ending in Ann Morrison Park on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. The Tour de Fat is a fundraiser for three Boise cycling advocacy

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Or skip the festival ticket. Do the free ride by itself.

Jimmy Hallyburton, founder of Boise Bicycle Project, just hopes you show up Aug. 12 to Tour de Fat.

It’s been an uphill marketing climb in the months since Tour de Fat’s producer, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Co., announced changes to the beloved event in an attempt to make it more sustainable.

Tour de Fat has been an Idaho tradition for more than a decade and a half. It’s raised more than $500,000 for Boise bicycle nonprofits. For the past nine years, the philanthropic festival has lured armies of costumed, whimsical riders to Ann Morrison Park with posters promising, “Bikes, beers & bemusement. High fives and admission free.”

This year’s Tour de Fat marketing mostly avoids bicycles. Free admission? Um, no. The festival — at least the beer, concerts and comedy part — now costs $25 plus fees. It’s being held at the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field.

Online fliers describe the event as, “Beer, music, friends.” A full-page advertisement in the Idaho Statesman’s Scene magazine actually acknowledged bikes near the bottom, but the ad primarily highlighted Southern rock band Blackberry Smoke.

Hallyburton understands Boise’s disappointment.

“There’s a lot of people who are really excited, but there are a lot of people mad about the changes,” he admits. “That it costs money, that it’s at a different venue. That it doesn’t seem to be as bicycle-focused as it has been in the past.”

Tour de Flat? I hear ya. Either way, Hallyburton needs Boise to get pumped. Our cycling community is depending on us. For better or worse, it still has the potential to be a helluva party.

Here are five reasons Boise should hop on the saddle again:

1. THE PARADE ROCKS

Boise is one of only three cities on this year’s 33-stop Tour de Fat tour that includes a bicycle parade.

Up to 12,000 crazies showed up for last year’s ride. Hallyburton is aiming for 10,000 next Saturday.

“I’m hoping ... even the people who might be bummed out, who might not go to the actual festival, still decide to continue this tradition,” he says. “I think Boise can do it. I think people absolutely love the bike parade and being out in their costume.”

The cruise starts at Ann Morrison Park, as usual. But it ends at the state Capitol with a rally, which is new.

There’s no alcohol involved at the parade or rally, which will keep things family-friendly.

When the rally is over, cyclists will be encouraged to spend the next four hours celebrating at several local Downtown hot spots such as Pollo Rey and Whole Foods River Room with New Belgium beer specials and live music.

At 4 p.m., Tour de Fat moves to Outlaw Field.

tdf+patch
Five bucks gets you this year’s Tour de Fat patch.

2. IT’S FREE

Registering for the bike parade is free. If you choose to donate $5 or more, you get the official parade patch. All the money goes to local bicycle nonprofits.

Organizers are counting on parade smiles carrying over to the ticketed festival. If folks have a good enough time Downtown in the morning and afternoon, they’ll considering buying tickets for the Outlaw Field shindig, which runs from 4 to 9 p.m. (Kids 12 and under get in free.)

Boiseans also can volunteer at Tour de Fat, which means festival entry is free.

Volunteer shifts might be available all the way up to the event, Hallyburton says: “The parade will get over at noon, and the festival doesn’t start until 4, and there may at that point still be some shifts for people to fill up.”

There’s also a Groupon promotion knocking the festival price down to $19. Or $17.25 each if you buy four tickets.

You can also just end your day early and skip Outlaw Field entirely. Your call.

“Come to the parade and come to the rally, because that’s still something that’s supporting the local cycling nonprofits,” Hallyburton says. “It’s still going to be a great time. It’s still 100-percent free.”

3. THE RALLY IS COOL

Finishing the bike parade at the state Capitol is sort of badass.

“I don’t know if there’s ever been a bicycle rally on the Capitol steps,” Hallyburton says. “It’s a real opportunity for us to push some things in Boise.”

The traditional car-for-bike trader — a citizen who trades in their vehicle for a bicycle — will be announced there. Representatives from local bicycle nonprofits will speak. You can bet your bottom bracket that the $91,000 bike lane project in front of City Hall will be a hot topic.

“We’ll really be trying to educate people about what protected bike lanes are,” Hallyburton says, “and get them excited about this project.”

4. NONPROFITS NEED YOU

Last year, Tour de Fat raised $63,365 for the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association (SWIMBA), Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance (TVCA) and Boise Bicycle Project (BBP).

BBP’s take was about $24,000. This year? Hallyburton hopes for $10,000. “We know that we’re going to be making less money this year than we have in the past,” he says.

Tour de Fat is SWIMBA’s and TVCA’s biggest annual fundraiser. Their budgets potentially will take a hit this year.

Donating $5 at the parade? Buying merch? Drinking a Fat Tire beer? Every dollar helps. The nonprofits plow that money right back into the Boise cycling community.

5. SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS

Nobody wants Tour de Fat to disappear. If it does return to Boise in 2018, Hallyburton thinks bicycles will play a larger role.

“It’s hard, because I love New Belgium,” Hallyburton says. “They’ve been a huge supporter of the Bike Project. But I honestly think they’re looking at Tour de Fat this year and going, ‘Man, we should have left the bicycle in there.’ ”

“They took a big risk, and I think it’s becoming more and more clear how important the bicycle is to Tour de Fat. I think that they’re figuring that out, and I think in some cases they may be figuring it out the hard way. I think they’re trying to make the best of every place they go to.”

By masterminding another massive, goofy-awesome bike parade, Boise’s cycling nonprofits are doing the same.

So go enjoy the ride. And as you pedal wearing a tutu, don’t forget to savor every moment.

“People don’t respond well to change — ever,” Hallyburton says. “That’s why I think keeping the parade consistent is so important. Because if we don’t knock the parade out of the park this year — if the parade and the rally don’t go very well — it’s going to be really hard to get something like that back.”

• • • 

Want the latest Idaho entertainment news? Track Michael Deeds on Facebook and Twitter.

  Comments