No beer for bikers

Santa Cruz keeps Tour de Fat a dry event

July 23, 2003 - Tour de Fat, New Belgium Brewing Co.'s "Ballyhoo of Bikes and Beer" that has raised money for scores of cycling non-profits during the last four years, hit a bump in the road July 19 in Santa Cruz, Calif. After city officials first approved the event, Police Chief Steve Belcher rejected alcohol sales, citing the dangers of drinking and cycling.


The event went on as scheduled, still raising money for local clubs, then headed off for Berkeley, where beer returns to the Tour on July 26.

"(We) were able to still bring our slice of bike culture fun to the residents of Santa Cruz," said David Kemp, tour coordinator for the Fort Collins, Colo, brewery. "In doing so, I think it proved that New Belgium is more like a way of life rather than solely the maker of fine beers. We've found that we make a another product apart from beer that is intangible and can only be experienced by attending one or any of our events. This product is what we call, 'freewheelin fun.'"

Proceeds from the beer sales were to have benefited the Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Transportation and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, both nonprofits. "This was a plan for responsible drinking in a contained area," said Rick Graves, coordinator of the Santa Cruz Hub. "It's not like we're a bunch of frat boys getting people drunk and sending people off on bikes."

After a May 8 presentation by Tour de Fat coordinators, four city representatives -- including Santa Cruz Police Sgt. Tom Bailey -- gave the initial go-ahead for a designated-event beer garden. Belcher overoad that decision.

"First of all, a municipal code prohibits the sale of alcohol at the park, so I couldn't legally sign off," he said. "But I also don't think it is a good idea to have alcohol at a transportation-related event."

After an appeal by event coordinators, the City Council voted unanimously June 10 to allow the event, but not beer sales.

This is the fourth year for Tour de Fat, which has grown from visiting six cities in 2000 to 15 this year. It raised more than $150,000 for non-profits the first three years - bringing in money via a morning ride at $5 a rider, from a percentage of merchandise sales, and from all beer sales. About 27 kegs of beer will be sold at a typical event, raising $7,000.

"We've never had any past incidents and have never been prohibited from selling beer," said Kemp. "This was a very frustrating application process."

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