By Ben Russo
September is the best time of the year in San Francisco.
The sun is shining, the cool weather is behind us and the festival season is in full bloom. For residents who ride bikes, September brings with it one of the most exciting events of the year: the Tour de Fat, on Saturday at Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park.
The annual free bike and beer ballyhoo, which will hit 13 cities across the country this year, is hosted by the New Belgium Brewery Co. of Fort Collins, Colo.; it’s named after its popular Fat Tire amber ale.
Now in its 12th year, the festival continues to expand on its goal to “roust a city’s inner city cyclist” by offering a full day of music, art and bicycle fun. This year, with the beer garden separated from the rest of the event, it’s an all-ages, family-friendly event.
Festivities begin with an 11 a.m. costumed ride through the park (registration starts at 10 a.m.) and continue through the afternoon with music from indie bands the Dovekins and Free Energy, as well as the renegade parade stylings of the Extra Action Marching Band. There will also be a fiery stunt bike performance and a collection of crazy, carnival-like bikes to ride.
The day culminates with one partygoer giving up his gas-guzzling car for a custom, handcrafted steel commuter bike. Complete with fenders, racks and panniers, this bike is designed to do everything your car could do – except pollute.
“The car-for-bike trade continues to inspire me,” New Belgium spokesman Bryan Simpson says. “It’s always so exciting to see someone enter a new car-free phase of life.”
The festival also raises funds for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council – nearly $50,000 last year. New Belgium has raised more than $2 million for bicycle nonprofits across the country.
In keeping with the brewer’s message of green living, the festival will be powered through solar and biofuel and incorporate recycling and compost bins. Last year’s festival produced only 12 pounds of trash for 6,500 people, according to the bicycle coalition, making it one of the greenest San Francisco festivals of the year.
No matter your reason for riding – community, the environment, fun – the Tour de Fat will probably reinforce why you do it.
11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. Free. Lindley Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. www.sfbike.org/?fat.
Bike About Town is presented by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, a 12,000-member nonprofit dedicated to creating safer streets and more livable communities by promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation. For more biking resources, go to www.sfbike.org.