For those who haven’t heard, Cyclepalooza is just around the corner and runs June 28 to July 7. This laid-back DIY-style festival merges a love of bike riding with many exciting themes that range from the Tour de France (complete with moustaches and baguettes) to the Bike Bike poker run.
We had a chance to catch up with the festival organizer, Gerardo Marquez, to find out more about this community-driven festival.
What would you say are the biggest pros about being a cyclist in Calgary?
Cycling contributes to a healthy lifestyle while helping to reduce the carbon footprint. Plus, there’s the fact that you observe so many more details from your bike than your car. There’s something really amazing about being on two wheels and feeling this sense of being connected to your community.
What about the cons?
The biggest con would be the fact that certain drivers still have a negative attitude towards cyclists. The road rage and the lack of proper bike infrastructure can be hard to deal with, especially downtown. Both cyclists and drivers in Calgary really need to learn how to share the road.
Winter can also make for some challenging rides.
Can you tell me a little but more about where the idea for Cyclepalooza came from?
In 2011, several organizations in town got together and decided to set up an event similar to the cycle events hosted in Portland (Pedalpalooza) and Vancouver (Velopalooza). Both events focus on endorsing bike culture in the city and promoting bikes as a mode of transportation.
How did you get involved with Cyclepalooza?
I participated in the first Cyclepalooza and I thought the whole festival was genius! This is the most democratic festival I’ve ever attended.
Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate and the events are as simple or as complex as you want to make them. The whole festival is just about promoting the idea of having fun with cycling, getting in touch with your community, and meeting some really incredible people.
After the first Cyclepalooza, I was excited to lend my services as a volunteer. I started out as the volunteer coordinator, which eventually led to me becoming the main organizer for the event.
To date, which is the most unique Cyclepalooza ride that you’ve attended?
That would be Bike Prom, which is sponsored by the Good Life bike shop. Bike Prom has people coming out dressed as elegant or ridiculous as they like and this makes for some good bike/people watching. Bike Prom will be happening again this year on June 28. Everyone should come check it out.
Do you think this festival will help to improve the cycling experience for cyclists in Calgary?
Yes, definitely. In the last few years I’ve started to notice changes in attitudes towards bikes on the road and people are engaged about how to make cycling a positive element in Calgary. Locals are really using Cyclepalooza to come together in a creative way and this is part of making YYC a better city.
For more information on the festival or to check out the schedule of events on the community calendar, click here. You can also follow this link to look at the Ride Guide, which will give you some pointers on setting up your own event.
Hope to see everyone out on two wheels!