DAY 5.0: SATURDAY (TOUR DE FAT)
Today was to bring not only the very wedding that brought us all to Colorado, but also the infamous Tour de Fat bicycle race/ride/epic journey through the streets of Fort Collins. As such, it was critical we all woke up early enough to get our bikes and costumes ready to go. Thus, I set my alarm for 7am. I woke up at about 9. Hooray! I think everyone else slept in as well, all of us convening in the restaurant next door to the hotel for breakfast. I’m pretty sure we ate at this place every morning we were in Fort Collins, as it featured not only delicious breakfast foods, but a full complement of local beers. Our fondness of the place can best be represented vis a vis Steve’s happy visage below, as he imagines eggs covered in Polish sausage.
The seven or so of us had no sooner sat down at a table and ordered some eats when I received a call on my cell from Bossman. I picked up, ready to yell “OH YE-YEAH” and ask him what he was up to this fine morning. He then indicated he was en route to the hotel on his bike with a bunch of the wedding party, ready to pick us up and head off to Tour de Fat. My response was something on the order of, “uhhhhh…” I think we all forgot what time we were supposed to head off to the Tour on our bikes. I broke the bad news to Ross that we had all just sat down to eat. He responded by yelling Portuguese epithets at me before slamming his phone to the ground and running it over with his bicycle. OR…he said “wtf” and to hurry our asses up lest we miss the fantastic times the Tour would hold.
I dropped some cash on the table and told the group to eat my eggs Benedict while I went outside to meet up with Ross and explain our predicament. I should probably stop here and explain Tour de Fat. Every year, Fort Collins plays host to this famed bicycle ride through its streets, composed of thousands of costumed (and somewhat inebriated) revelers intent on having as much fun as possible while snarling traffic and evoking road rage in as many car drivers as possible. It’s capped off by a festival-of-sorts in the park area near New Belgium Brewing Company where everyone can get off their bikes after the miles-long ride and continue drinking. As you’ll see shortly, I’m not quite doing it justice.
Anyway, as I came outside, I saw Ross pull up on his bike and in costume as a Caped Cod. Needless to say, I was delighted.
Ross said he’d take those already on bikes with him to the Tour start, and try to meet up with us after we finished our breakfast. He wasn’t optimistic, as they expected something on the order of 6,500+ bicycle riders clogging the streets. Drat. He also stressed we should all be wearing costumes, or risk suffering the wrath of the other costumed riders sure to ridicule us for being lame-o’s. I headed back into the restaurant to finish breakfast with the gang, before speeding up to my hotel room to try and fashion a last-second costume out of adhesive tape, a bathroom towel, and chicken wire. (Yes, I always carry a supply of chicken wire at the ready whenever I travel out of state.) I’ll let you be the judge, but I think I did one hell of a job (the chicken wire is concealed).
Everyone else, for the most part, lamed out. I think Jenna put some star stickers on her face and arms, Justin threw on a toga, and PETER ROE jacked up his shorts. I’m not sure what he was going for with that fashion choice, but I salute him for his effort. More than I can say for the other punks who were way too cool to get costumed up.
We all hopped on our bikes (provided free of charge by the Armstrong for its guests — I named mine “Jenny McShanks”) and headed off to New Belgium, the starting point of the Tour. Along the way, we were joined by other participants in all manner of crazy costumes. By the time we were within sight of the main body of riders, about 50 other riders were alongside. Making the final turn onto the road to New Belgium, it was “holy crap” time. Our jaws dropped as we saw a huge, writhing mass of riders packing the road a full mile into the distance, the street packed tightly with all manner of wacky people dressed up in every kind of costume you could imagine. I’m not sure any of us really knew how big an event this really was until we saw that sprawling mass of humanity stretched as far as the eye could see.
I wasn’t expecting to find Ross and his crew again until after the ride, but I did receive an enjoyable text message from him as we came upon the main group of riders: “r u near?” I dunno why, but I found that highly amusing. As it turns out, we were near and met up with Ross after the raucous crowd of bananas, hippies, bumblebees, animals, horses, potheads and Justin Toy look-alikes began peddling their way slowly down the street as the Tour got underway. The crew reunited, we all yelled something to the effect of “YEEEE!!!” and continued merrily along.
Shortly thereafter, a drunk guy in spandex, clearly unable to master the advanced mechanics of bike riding, started yelling to his friends unintellibly and proceeded to fall over on his ass. He repeated this roughly seven times over the next three minutes. Just one example of the hilarity that will inevitably ensue when a bunch of drunken/high wackos get together to ride some bikes (by no means do I exclude myself from those “wackos;” though no alcohol or narcotics were required for myself or the rest of my group to meet the required zaniness quotient).
Jamie had the misfortune of popping one of her tires early on, forcing PETER ROE to chain the bike to a traffic sign and leave it behind. There was no way we were gonna let that stop us; Jamie jumped on the back of Peter’s bike and off we went. Some more random moments from the 6-or-so-mile ride:
Some moments I don’t have pictures of included an encounter with a group of Bills fan sitting in their front yard along the bike route. Steve noticed them dressed in full Bills regalia and began shouting the, well, “Shout” song at the top of his lungs. We all happily joined in as the roadside fans yelled back in response. Also particularly enjoyable was a guy dressed as a robot along the side of the road. He had two arms made out of 6-inch diameter tubing and made a big show out of leaning back and shooting those arms out, just like those snakes-in-a-can, Inspector Gadget-style. I’m not sure why, but a few of us found this uproariously funny.
We eventually got to the end of the hour-or-so-long ride back at New Belgium, where a huge festival (consisting mainly of a bandstand and numerous beer tents) was already underway. Everyone attending said festival dropped off their bikes, and there were huge sections of the surrounding park taken up by masses of them all jumbled together. I do not envy anyone who stayed at that festival for three-plus hours and then had to go extract their bike from that twisted mess of metal.
Despite Jenna’s urgings to the contrary (she loves festivals), we opted to just take a few pictures, get the hell out of Dodge, and head back to the hotel. Tour de Fat is something to put on your bucket list, folks; I don’t care how young or old you are. What a great time. And after that exhilarating morning, we still had the little matter of a wedding to attend to.