The Tour de Fat hit San Francisco today, its ninth stop of 13 scheduled for this year (San Diego, LA, Tempe and Austin still ahead in October). I’m not sure how it panned out, but I thought it’d be a good time to relate what I know of the car-for-bike swap origin story, which begins with a guy named Matt Kowal. You all know him better as that guy with the goatee and the top hat — the TdF’s Impresario-in-Chief.
Kowal’s Denver-based band, The Reals, played the Colorado TdF for many years in the early festival days. Being the guy with an audio engineering degree, plus a passion for community organizing and the personality to carry a show, when the gig as the Tour de Fat Creative and Sustainive Director opened up, Kowal was a shoo-in. For the first few years, he had a partner in crime, Chris Winn.
One day, Kowal and Winn were riding bikes in Oregon between shows and they got to joking about the guns-for-cash trade. And then, as my friends in the country say, the ‘highpiphany’ struck: What if people traded their cars for a bike! The idea was just hilarious and theatrical enough to work on the TdF stage, and so they pitched it and had no trouble convincing New Belgium to get on board. Four years later, here we are.