Bike Fort Collins first launched You Know Me. I Ride a Bike. Back in 2009 as a broader awareness campagin featuring local residents active in our bike loving community. Beginning in 2021, we are excited to reintroduce this bio-series, recognizing one new Fort Collins resident each month here on our news-blog/website, The Pedal Post eNewsletter and BFC social channels, and highlighting their love for bikes. Please join us as we hear their stories and learn more about these remarkable folks who live and ride right here in our community.
April 2023: John Yeast
….by Jennifer Hoover, BFC Board Member
To know Tour de Fat is to love it. The spectacle, the merrymaking, the day-long festival are two things that Fort Collins adores—bikes and beer, well three things if you include music. John Yeast of New Belgium Brewing is the man behind the scenes who makes it all happen, and you know what? Yep, he rides a bike.
I catch up with John in between meetings at New Belgium where his official job is Coordinator, Event and Experiential Marketing (less officially, the Tour de Fat guy). He has lived in Fort Collins for 16 years and was truly in the right place at the right time when opportunity came knocking 8 years ago. At the time he was juggling three jobs and making ends meet while running a small production company with his wife. With a background in non-profit management and recent experience working on the Clips Film and Beer Tour, John crossed paths with the non-profit liaison at New Belgium and John had the opportunity to apply for this job. The process felt like the natural conclusion of all of the years he had spent working his way up in non-profits and leadership roles that went all the way back to his years in Outward Bound. It was the culmination of a winding path that led him to his dream job. And like a good New Belgium employee he lists the ability to commute by bike as a job perk!
John’s relationship with bikes began with necessity after selling his truck in grad school and commuting on his bike for a year, even in the miserable Illinois winter.
And similarly, after taking the job at New Belgium John felt a responsibility to the brand and commuted by bike every day for the first year. He says that he still rides to work 80% of the time and feels that this has given him the opportunity to see first-hand and reflect on how cycling meets the needs of people from primary transportation to school or work or for pleasure. Commuting to work is an opportunity to watch the neighborhood go by and the people passing. And he admits, watching people adds an element of humor to his day.
As a person who was passionate about helping people and devoted the early part of his career to outdoor leadership and non-profit work, John reached a level of burn out that made him change directions. John’s philosophy on bikes and work are similar.
“It’s okay to crash, whether you fall over at a stop sign because you can’t get out of your clips or hit a rock on the trail and fall into the brush. Chances are you will be able to bounce up and realize the only thing hurt is your confidence. Bumps and bruises happen. Isn’t that a part of life? Fall down, get up… if you try new things, you’ll make mistakes, and that is how we learn.”
Multiple times throughout our interview John describes the feeling of riding a bike as joy. Bicycle joy. If you are reading this post, there is no doubt you can relate. His joy is not limited to a particular kind of cycling, though he does “love” downhill mountain biking, he finds joy in all forms of riding. He views climbing hills as a means to an end; the thrill is going down fast!
John can be found around town on his New Belgium Cruiser or with his wife on a tandem bike they affectionately call the Divorce Machine! You might pass him (or be passed by him) on gravel or a zippy descent at Winter Park on his Niner Rip 9. But wherever you run into John on a bike, in any kind of weather and all seasons, it’s likely there will be a big smile on his face. He is truly living and working his dream.
Did you enjoy this edition of YKM? Read about other inspirational local folks here.
I always wondered who was behind TDF annual organization—great interview with John Yeast!