Money raised from Tour de Fat benefits bicycling non-profits, community

Megan Fischer

Dressing as characters from a video game, riding down Mountain Avenue and enjoying beer on a Saturday afternoon are all fun and games, but local bike non-profits benefit most from the fun.

After beginning the company on a bike, New Belgium’s Tour de Fat raised about $90,000 for non-profits in Fort Collins, all having something to do with bikes and cycling.

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“It was an opportunity to really give back,” said Michael Craft, New Belgium’s non-profit liaison for Tour de Fat.

The funds made at Tour de Fat Fort Collins went back to four non-profits in Fort Collins: Fort Collins Bike Co-op Bike Fort Collins, Overland Mountain Bike Club and most recently, Ciclismo.

Justin Mohar, en employee at Fort Collins Bike Co-op, stands infront of bikes in their warehouse. Recovered and abandoned bikes in the city are sometimes taken to the co-op to be reused and redistributed as part of a service that the co-op offers. (Photo by: Megan Fischer)
Justin Mohar, en employee at Fort Collins Bike Co-op, stands infront of bikes in their warehouse. Recovered and abandoned bikes in the city are sometimes taken to the co-op to be reused and redistributed as part of a service that the co-op offers. (Photo by: Megan Fischer)

The donations from Tour de Fat make up 20 percent of the annual budget for Fort Collins Bike Co-op’s annual budget, which provides used bikes and bike parts, according to employee Dondi Barrowclough.

“They are without a doubt our largest single donor,” Barrowclough said.

Bike Fort Collins receives about 80 percent of its annual budget from money raised during the Tour de Fat. Bike Fort Collins runs the Bike Library in Fort Collins, in addition to providing other services to promote safe cycling.

“If Tour de Fat were not to happen, we would have to offer less as a non-profit,” said Bruce Henderson, the president of Bike Fort Collins.

The Fort Collins Bike Co-op and Bike Fort Collins, along with the other non-profits, provide volunteers for Tour de Fat.

“We really push to get volunteers for that event,” Barrowclough said. “Tour de Fat is entirely volunteer-run.”

Henderson described the work between cycling non-profits and New Belgium as a partnership in which New Belgium provides the equipment and the non-profits provide the volunteers. 

“New Belgium as a company is very supportive of bicycling in general,” Henderson said. “They really do want the three nonprofits (Fort Collins Bike Co-op, Bike Fort Collins and Overland Mountain Bike Club) to be out in front and get recognition.”

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Craft said New Belgium is grateful for the people that volunteer at the huge event. About 25,000 people came to Tour de Fat 2015.

“I think New Belgium sees those three nonprofits as continuing to make the city special,” Craft said. “We could not do the Tour de Fat with out the non-profits and all their volunteers.”

Tour de Fat just surpassed $4 million in money raised from the various Tour de Fat events in ten different cities across the county, Craft said. The Tour de Fat events start in Washington D.C. and end in Tempe, Arizona.

“Nationwide, this whole bicycle idea and people’s love for the most iconic symbol of sustainability, which is the bicycle, has really blown up,” Craft said. “Whatever money we raise in whatever city we’re in, the money stays there.”

 Collegian Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MegFischer04.