No…this title does not refer to a blow-out culinary tour (after all, that’s an inherent part of every trip!). Rather, Tour de Fat is a massive bike parade/festival sponsored by New Belgium brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado. New Belgium brews the popular Fat Tire beer, thus the name Tour de Fat. Everyone dresses in crazy costumes, slowly rides through the streets of Old Town and then ends up in a park where bands play all afternoon.
Charlie’s cousin Susan and her family live in Ft. Collins, as does my great friend from high school, Ashley, and her husband Matt. When we realized Ft. Collins is only five hours away, we started looking for a good weekend to go see everyone. Bikes and beer? Think we found a good weekend for a visit!
Cheyenne is only 45 minutes north of Ft. Collins, so we took the opportunity to do some exploring on our way. Even though it’s the capital of Wyoming, the population of Cheyenne wouldn’t even fill the Auburn football stadium.
We enjoyed walking around the historic downtown, stopping in the antique stores and even visiting a museum dedicated to early cowgirls. Did you know Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote – 50 years before the rest of the country? It took them several tries to be granted statehood because they would only join if every citizen would have equal rights. Needless to say, we learned about some smart, strong, fascinating women! I especially liked learning about the ones who competed against men in the early years of the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeos. They only segregated the competition because a certain cowgirl was on track to beat the top men of the sport, and they couldn’t allow that to happen!
After a fun horse-drawn carriage tour of town, we headed down to Ft. Collins for dinner with Ashley and Matt. I hadn’t seen Ashley since just after Hurricane Katrina, so it was really fun to be able to get together again! We have so many fun, hilarious stories together, and when she opened the door it was like we’d seen each other yesterday. We spent the next few hours catching up, getting to know new husbands, and feasting on a delicious dinner straight from their garden. It made me wish our teenage dream of living next door so we could borrow sugar and raise little punk babies together would come true!
Later that night we finally landed at Susan and Jeremy’s home a few blocks away. Even though we were exhausted, we couldn’t help staying up a little late to catch up and hug on their adorable son, Bryant. Susan and Jeremy have ridden in the Tour de Fat for the past few years and have built up two impressive costume boxes. We spent the next morning combing through our options and finally decided that Charlie would be some sort of 70s pimp-looking guy and I would be She-Ra, Princess of Power. Susan, Jeremy and Bryant were the most adorable “Oktoberfest” family!
I loved She-Ra as a little girl, but I do not remember her outfit being that skimpy! So instead of riding a bike all morning in a tiny, tiny skirt, I opted for a red dress and hoped the head-wings would be enough of a giveaway. It worked – I got a lot of “Hey She-Ra!”s and Charlie returned a lot of nods from other afro-ed participants.
Since Susan lives right in Old Town, we joined the parade just a block from her house and cruised through town for the next hour or so. People’s costumes were crazy, and everyone was cracking up as we passed each other! It was like we had 20,000 new friends and were all out for a sunny Saturday morning ride through town together.
Later that afternoon we all changed into our football gear and got ready for both the Auburn and Alabama games. We had a good time going back and forth with Susan, who grew up near Tuscaloosa and cheers for Bama. I couldn’t give her a much of hard time considering I spent all but the last three years as a die-hard Bama fan and will never be able to dislike them even though I’m a tiger now!
After breakfast the next morning, we said goodbye and went off to explore downtown Ft. Collins for awhile before heading home to Rock Springs. I can definitely see why both Susan and Ashley love living there – Ft. Collins is a great city with a lot to do, really nice people, and easy access to all the beautiful wilderness of northern Colorado. If we weren’t so sure we want to move back to the South, I could see us being really happy settling there. It seemed like the whole town was out having Sunday brunch, strolling through the cute streets and just enjoying a lazy morning. We had fun stopping in some of the shops, listening to a sidewalk bluegrass band, then having lunch and getting on the road.
Yet we had one more stop before heading home, the Terry Bison Ranch. We couldn’t drive past this place without stopping for the train tour of the second largest bison ranch in the country! The rickety train goes about one mile per hour and takes you out into the fields to get up close and personal with the bison.
They even give you food pellets to get them to come closer, where you can hand feed them. It was fun to be that close to such huge animals – though I did feel a little twinge of guilt when we got some fresh bison jerky for the ride home!
A storm was blowing up as we drove back, and it was incredible to watch the weather change across the prairie. As if our jam-packed weekend wasn’t enough fun, we got home just in time to do laundry, re-pack the car and get some sleep before leaving for Yellowstone just 12 hours later. That story coming soon!