New Belgium Brewing Takes Being Bike-friendly on Tour

Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing was conceived as a result of homebrewer Jeff Lebesch’s bicycle trip through Belgium in 1989 – and to this day bicycling lies at the heart of New Belgium Brewing.

Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing was conceived as a result of homebrewer Jeff Lebesch’s bicycle trip through Belgium in 1989 – and to this day bicycling lies at the heart of New Belgium Brewing. “The Tour de Fat was designed to celebrate this while giving back,” Employee Owner and Senator of Tour de Fat’s Non-Profit Relations Michael Craft stated. “But it’s also why we have covered bike parking, a shop, and wrench stands to work on your bike, showers, and a casual dress code to encourage more bike commuting.”

Their efforts certainly haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2011, the company was the recipient of the Business Advocate of the Year by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and achieved Platinum Level Bike Friendly Business status by the League of American Bicyclists. In 2012, they added the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Award to their trophy case. When it comes to being a bike-friendly business, New Belgium Brewing isn’t fooling around.

According to Craft, their success lies in thinking beyond the business toward the broader community. “We’ve helped make the whole town of Fort Collins more bike-friendly. We donated bikes to help get the bike library going, a program that allows folks to check out a bike free for up to three days at a time. We’ve partnered with the city to install five bike racks in Old Town that occupy former car parking lots to encourage commuting to shop.”

Nearly a quarter of New Belgium Brewing’s philanthropy budget goes to smart transportation initiatives, including bike programs and non-profits around the United States. “At the end of the day, that’s the stuff that makes working at New Belgium much bigger than having a sweet job,” Craft added. “It really makes change and that keeps all of us motivated every day.”

For 14 years, Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat has been bringing their distinct brand of pedal-powered, carnivalesque fun to cities throughout the US. As the centerpiece of their commitment to cycling advocacy, the festival currently takes place in 12 cities across the US and will soon exceed the $2 million mark for total funds raised for local cycling nonprofits and advocacy through beer and merchandise purchases. Craft noted, “Tour de Fat is built on the premise that we are all bicyclists and we should come together and celebrate mankind’s two greatest inventions: bikes and good beer.”

Not content to stop at a good party, the Tour de Fat also challenges a number of preconceived notions about bicycling. “The costume idea was a way to get people out of their ‘usual’ riding gear,” Craft added. “God knows we don’t need another Lycra convention. We really wanted to throw a celebration in towns and cities in which all the money raised would stay to make those places a better place to ride a bike. The cycling community has long-supported our beer, and since we are a brewery made up of cyclists, the Tour de Fat was a way to give back, create awareness, and celebrate cycling culture.”

Momentum Mag asked New Belgium staff “What do you like about riding a bike?

Bryan Simpson, PR Director

“My bike commute is 3 miles of bike trail along the mighty Poudre River. It clears my mind every day, both coming and going to work, and it sets an awesome tone for everything in between.”

Jason Trujillo, Beer Chemistry and Bicycle Ambassador

“This is a tough one but long story short EVERYTHING … I love everything about riding a bike. I love fresh morning air, cold winter days, crisp spring and fall seasons, However … hot summer days not so much.”

Michael Bussmann, Social Networking Nerd

“The wind, and the sun, and the rain, and full days spent with friends. My best days are saddle-bound, map-less, and friend-filled pedaling on the long road of adventure.”

When not pedaling East Vancouver on his path racer, Stephen Irving is a social media and communications strategist passionate about sustainable transportation, Canadian politics, and post-punk. @StephenIrving  

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