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  • HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!

    Well if two words could describe my feelings right now they would be "holy" and "cow"! That show (The Windy Cities Tour de Fat, of course) was amazing.  The set up went smooth on Friday (almost as if we had done it before), and then Saturday was off the chain. 

    It all started with a coffee Friday morning, it was a good cup, and nothing like a good cup of coffee to start the day off right (an aside here; I have an amazing idea for a coffee shop, its a big, giant pile of coffee beans molded and glued to look like Jaba from Star Wars and the coffee is made inside the giant Jaba statue and passed out threw a window, we call it "Java the Hut"... Awesome huh? (maybe I should get out of the carnie-ing business and pursue my sci-fi villain based coffee shop ambitions)). Then we went to the park, and what a park.  (Rey Colon deserves a high five here.  Rey is the alderman for the 35 ward and has helped us out in the usage of Palmer Square Park, thanks Rey!)  Then we unloaded the heavy stuff and set up... easy as a very heavy pie.  Friday night sleep came easy.

    Then Saturday, as stated above, was off the chain (that means good (I think)).  The parade was super fun.  People were all about it, and really went for it this year, costumes and bikes and crazy.  When we all got back to the park the beer was flowing and the the show started and everyone enjoyed themselves.  I even heard one guy say to (what I can only assume to be) his wife "this is way better than our wedding day."   Really, I think that is the best compliment we could have gotten.  Then break down went as smoothly as set up, and I was feeling like lifting lots of really heavy stuff anyway, so it worked out. 

    So lets get to some numbers: Chicago's Tour de Fat was attended by 3000 (ish) people.  The beer that those folks drank, and the shirts, and socks and stuff they bought, and the donations they gave at the parade raised 22,000 dollars for West Town Bikes.  That's 22,000 bucks, that's a whole mess of money, people of Chicago you should be proud of yourselves, now reach around your side and deliver a heartfelt pat to your backside, you really shined.  One more number to deliver is this: 91.  That is the number marking the percentage of waste diverted.  Of the trash that all of us created on Saturday 91% of it was diverted from the land fill.  That is some serious composting and recycling efforts, deliver another self-inflicted pat on the backside Chicago, you done good.

    Well thats is for the hi-lights, I'll hit you back soon and let you know how Minneapolis is doing (though, so far I'd say fantastic).

    Until next time,


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  • Chicago kicks off Tour de Fat real nice

    We couldnât have asked for a better start to the 2009 season.
    The weather was perfect, the Tour de Fat carnies were a well-oiled machine, and Chicagoans came out in force.

    Last year we had 1500 people come out and raise $12,000 for West Town Bikes. This year, we had 3,000 people, raising more than $20,000 (we're still counting)! Waste diversion also went from 82% diverted from the landfill to 91%.

    And Paul bid farewell to his Subaru in exchange for the far superior Black Sheep commuter bike.

    Ride On Chicago!

    (playing telephone)

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  • The Midwestern World is my oyster, watch me crack it.

    Holy smokes, so much fun stuff has happened since last we spoke (figuratively, of course).  Lets see, there was the Fourth of July...which was real cool.  I went with some friends and loved ones to party where the rain couldn't stop the great cruiser bike racing.  It was bracket style, it was fun.  I lost in the finals last year, so I really wanted a win in the '09 (I have been training my face off), but alas, I lost in the early heats, the competition was real fierce, not to mention bar-b-que and blue paddle make for lousy teammates.  We then said our goodbyes and sauntered off to another celebration of freedom, we showed up to the festivities blowing up... There was bean bag toss (called corn hole in some parts of the world), washers, and my personal favorite- beer on stick.  This is a game where an empty bottle is placed atop a 5 foot piece of PVC staked into the ground and then you throw a Frisbee at it, more fun than a cook-out at the White house. 

    Then of course there was some blowing up of things,  This picture should sum it all up:roman's candle

    After some good times and some zaniness a few of us wandered over to city park to watch what professionals can do with flammable materials.  Bright and shiny, the only thing missing was "(You're a) Grand ol' Flag" blaring over loud speakers.  It was a patriotic time if I've ever had one, Thank you America, thank you.

    Next was Sunday and we left town, driving fun times towards Chicago.  The carnie crew left at the crack of ten with trucks and van loaded and headed into the Colorado corn.  Along the way we had some fun times.  We stopped at the Amana Colonies, which was described to me as "the anti-technological stomping grounds of some Amish settlers", it turned out to be a huge tourist trap in the middle of Iowa that sold many things via computer such as cream soda, leather wallets, and cheese curds.  Here is Pete jamming on the biggest curd in the bag:


    Now that is curd-tastic.

    We then hit the road again, and kept driving.  The weather was nice and the vinyl seats in the truck barely even got sticky.  Over all it was comfortable.

    Then somewhere in the middle of Illinois we started seeing signs for a big ol' antique mall.  We stopped.  Carnies love antiques, its like how guys from with great hair cuts love Camaros, its weird but real.  I scored a working, very excellent condition Royal Quiet Delux traveling typewriter........totally awesome, totally 20 dollars.

    Then we got to Chicago, we have eaten well, enjoyed a few beers, wandered around like tourists, and even gone to a White Sox game where Paul Kenerko hit 3 home runs, including a grand slam. After the game we went to the Beer Bistro.  Real good sandwiches and many, many beers to be had, but the hi-light of this place is the tator-tots, delicious.  After dinner me, Coleman, and Craft wandered around the city until we found the giant silver bean.  This is what is looks like during the day:


     the bean

    (and it's also real cool Team WonderbikePropaganda), but at night it just looks like a few security guards that yell at you about how the park is closed, so not quite as fun as going in the daylight hours.

    Then we ajourned to the hotel, and it didn't even get akward at all, see:

    two dudes

     So now you're caught up, but there are a few  more things worth mentioning....  If you are in Chicago and like to ride bikes around we are having a Team Wonderbike ride Thursday night, leaving Palmer Square Park at 7pm, bring friends, bring a bike, have fun with us.  It will be a fun cruise around the neighborhood and then will finish some place we can have a beer together.  And speaking of Palmer Square Park, Saturday is the Tour de Fat.  Its the first one of the season so we are extra excited parade registration starts at 9am parade leaves at 10, beer gets tapped at 11... See you there.




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  • I want to trade my car for a bike in Chicago! by Vic

    Zach and NB comrades,

    Don't let the raised hood fool you- the putt still runs. This car was purchased brand new by my mom in 1972. There was an energy crisis back then too. Remember when you could only fill up your tank on certain days, and petrol stations ran dry? The Putt was there!

    Putt's good sideThis is a Toyota Carina. You are probably more familiar with the Corolla and might even think that 'Carina' is a typo. But no! The Carina was imported for only 2 years back in the day. It remains a very popular car among drag racers in Finland and Puerto Rico.

    So I thought Xzibit of Pimp My Ride might like The Putt. He didn't reply. Unbelievable.

    Whatcha think? I learned to drive in this little gem. It could be yours.

    Solidarity and cheers,


    My mother's reaction-


    What, you are getting rid of the Putt? Don't you dare!!! Give it back to me, it's loaded with memories. I drove you and Steph to school in that from your very first day, we treated it like a jeep and went over rocks and up and down the hills by Truckee, and to all the tennis matches. Maureen and I went out in it while Dee Dee baby sat. It was always crammed with kids before the seat belt law! Where is your sentimentality? Geez, have you been overcome by the heat? Whatever is the matter with you??? Just send it back with the beer in the trunk and the back seat. I will see that my little yellow gem lives out the rest of it's years in comfort and style. The nerve!


    Don't even think of asking my daughter for this car! There are far too many memories locked up in there to give it away to smeone I have never heard of for some crazy sounding bike. And do you really have a brewery? I have never heard of New Belgium Beer and I have had a few over the years. Maybe we could talk-not negotiate, but I would be willing to be your west coast beer taster. Just don't get any ideas about the Putt!

    Getting close to being off my Christmas list, The MOM

    Btw- just in case, does the prize bike come in my size? I am 5'2".

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  • I want to trade my car for a bike in Chicago! by Paul

    Paul R. says "I'm ready to lead a car-free lifestyle in Chicago and trade my car for New Belgium's cool custom commuter bike."

    Check out his video on our Chicago Tour de Fat page on Facebook.


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  • I want to trade my car for a bike in Chicago! by Steven

    Dear New Belgians:

    I write you today to describe the tattered relationship I share with my 1995 Dodge Avenger, a vehicle I wish to trade for your most excellent bicycle. My vehicle and I have grown apart and your offer of a bike in exchange for it is the trigger I've been seeking to leave her.

    Our relationship, like most, started in a whirlwind romance that found me head-over-heels in love with my new-found mobility. She was my first car in over ten years. We were introduced by my 90 year-old grandfather who spent the bulk of his working life on an assembly line for the former Chrysler auto company. He was a dedicated company man who drove Chrysler products his whole life. When unbeknownst to his wife and children he got the bug to buy a new car, he went for the sexiest, sleekest model at the time--the Dodge Avenger. His wife and children (including my mother) were aghast at his decision as he was not a good driver. In fact, he wasn't a very safe person in his advanced years.  This is the same guy who got his hair wrapped in a drill press only to be rescued by my uncle who just happened to stop by. The family decided to sell his car and I obliged them.

    At first, I thought I was separating the Avenger from my grandfather for his and his family's sake--just being a good wingman. See, I'm not really into four cylinder engines nor cars that have as much computing power as 1960s-era NASA. That's just not my style. I've always been more about four-barrel carburetors, Cragar S/S mag wheels and straight pipes. But I was unprepared for the Avenger's stealthy powers of seduction. Before I knew it, I was in love.

    Trade my car for a bike in ChicagoWe travelled I-94 between Chicago and Detroit together about four times a year. At first, the girl was almost too randy for me with her sexy lines, supple handling and throaty exhaust. I got so worked up over her I received my first speeding ticket ever. And this was just in the first month of our affair! I swallowed the increased insurance rates and struck a bargain with her: I'll keep her clean and smoke- free and change her fluids regularly if she'd temper her intoxicating charms for my driving record's sake. She complied by bringing home insane amounts of lumber from the yard and 55 pound bags of malted barley from the local homebrew shop while giving me 35 mpg on the highway. It was true love.

    Then I started to cheat on her. I know, it was wrong and insensitive but ultimately it was unavoidable. See, I got reacquainted with an old college flame, my dusty Bridgestone mountain bike. It started innocently enough with a few rides where we just held hands and talked about the old days: late night rides, quick jaunts between classes and romantic single-tracking through the forest preserve. The next thing you know we're spending entire afternoons along the lakeshore, bar- hopping Chicago's neighborhoods and displaying public affection at street fairs. I bought her new city tires, night illumination and an onboard computer to record our tryst. Once we started traveling to work together I realized I had to break the news to my Avenger: our relationship was over.

    But it's never that easy. She wouldn't let go and I would get weak and suckered into that I-94 roundtrip to Detroit with the windows down, the radio blaring and the cruise control engaged at a gas-sipping speed. We flirted with 39 mpg on the last trip but that won't last. It's just a last gasp attempt at winning me back. Though we are no longer compatible, I'm having a hard time letting go. Even though the old bicycle makes me feel younger, healthier and eco-conscious, she won't be with me for the long haul. Her bottom-bracket bearings are shot, her frame creaks and her derailleurs have seen better days.

    So I appreciate you introducing me to your friend the New Belgian Top- Shelf Build. I think I'm in love--it's for real this time. She. Is. The. One. I'm ready to make a clean break with my dinosaur-juice- addicted Avenger. Though I'll have fond memories of her, I know this is best for both of us. We've grown apart, she is too high- maintenance, her fuel's too expensive and the City wants me to re-up our license and permits by the end of the month. She's getting on in years and will probably be in better hands with someone else soon.

    So New Belgian Top-Shelf Build, what do you say to a nice ride along the lakeshore, some urban curb-jumping and a couple of cold Fat Tires on the way home? I want you. I've got to have you. I think you feel like I do. What do you say? I'll treat you right.

    Most sincerely,

    Steven "Smooth-Shifting" J.

    ps...your fenders are SO HOT!

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  • When I get to Chicago....

    Last year I spent a whole week in Chicago for the Tour de Fat, there was time spent setting up, training volunteers, working on bikes, at the show, tearing down the show, and even a few minutes at Navy Pier (not really a high-light, barely worth mentioning really).  There was lots of work to be done, but there was also free time to be had, and not once did I get to go to Medieval Times.  I spent hours trying to talk my co-workers into it, I even tried to talk a few strangers into it, but alas, not one other person wanted to go (you can't go to Medieveal Times by yourself, its just not as fun, who are you going to recount the awesome memories with?).

    Well anyway, this year is going to be different, I will make it to Medieval Times.  I will be in Chicago from Monday July 6th through Monday July 14th and mark my words, things will get wierd at Medieval Times!



    ps. If any of you folks want to go let me know, we can build shared memories together.

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  • Book of Ballyhoo Chapter 1

    Chapter 1, Book of Ballyhoo for year of our bike 2008:

    1: Welcome back fans of old, and new apostles alike. The Wreckoning is upon us, and the carnies have been unleashed onto the vehicular world as we know it. 4 months until the carpocalypse (or the end of festival season for us) and between now and then we have much work to do. As each tour is launched, new tales, trials, and tribulations unfold, and if we are lucky a new city to boot. Before I proceed however, let us pour a tinge of malted adult refreshment onto the soil in the name of our brethren in Missoula and Flagstaffâ�¦wonderful towns full of wonderful bicyclesâ�¦we wonât be rolling their way this season after many years. We will continue to support their bike communities, although not with this travelling nut showâ�¦

    2: In order to spread the gospel about the Bicycle, one of the greatest inventions of all time, we have found ourselves opening this season with a new addition to the list of stops�a city deeply steeped in traffic issues and congestion�a city unable to keep up with the wear and tear of street caused by vehicular usage. This city being the windiest of them all and the 3rd largest in the nation, yes ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about Chicago. Talk about a crappy place to drive�but on helluva spot to ride a bike!

    3: On this 21st day of the 6th month, We were blessed by many gathered in the name of acknowledging and celebrating the possibilities of the human power over horse power. In the heart of an expansive city whose size alone tests a ridersâ metal, 500 cyclists joined forces and took to the streets on our Cruise-ade. 1500 reveled in the sun and showers for all things pedal powered and good.

    4: Over the course of 6 hours, we rode, we rejoiced, we imbibed, and we grew stronger. For all those rolling forth upon pedaled wings revivalated, and those new to the bike were indoctrinated...and you know it was good.

    5: What have we done?!

    � We raised money for West Town Bikes $11,878 to be exact. Ride on!
    � We saved ourselves from dumpnation by diverting 82% of our trash from hell-fill with the help of the Illinios Recycling Association� so many people, so little trash. Ride on!
    � We also committed as a city to reduce our car miles for bike miles by joining Team Wonderbike and pledging to ride 126,820 miles in the next year! thats a whole lotta pounds of CO2 not going in the air
    � We got another car-free convert, Joe Marinaro who donated his 2001 Jeep Cherokee ride for a new Black Sheep commuter bike.

    7: And for all of you who came properly attired and awesomely inspired� and you know who you are� many thanks and much appreciation.

    Time is on our side�
    Reverend C Ballyhoo, the Deacon of Freakinâ, Oscar the Gashole, our angels and demons, and of course the hardest working man in showbiz, TK.

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  • Chicago Tour de Fat video from Klunkerbell!

    Klunkerbell working the the camera at Tour de Fat chicago 2008!

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  • Tour de Fat Chicago 2008

    Here it is, highlights from the 2008 Tour de Fat in Chicago.

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