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Do-it-yourself cycling festival pedals into downtown Calgary

By Jason Herring, July 16 2015 —

As cycling in Calgary thrives with newly opened downtown cycle tracks, the city’s do-it-yourself bicycling festival, Cyclepalooza, returns for its fifth year.

Cyclepalooza is a community-organized ten-day festival that gives anyone the opportunity to organize events. While a few events are run by festival staff and sponsors, most are set up by cycling enthusiasts.

Organizer Signe Bray says festival staff generally let the community dictate the way the festival looks.

“[Cyclepalooza] was inspired by similar festivals in Vancouver and Portland. Some folks thought it would be fun to bring this kind of do-it-yourself biking festival to Calgary,” Bray says. “Anyone who would like to can organize and post events. We have minimal screening, but we do very little editorial control over the events themselves.”

One festival event is the Funkadelic Radio Ride, a nighttime downtown ride where cyclists are encouraged to bring their own radios and collectively tune into the Fullmoon Funkalicious show on CJSW. At the closing event, cyclists will gather at Prince’s Island Park to take turns trying to hit a pinata while riding their bikes.

Bray says the cycling community is excited about the growing acceptance of cycling in Calgary.

“The cycle track pilot project was a huge victory for all the people who worked really hard to get it developed. We’re really excited to see how it develops beyond that, but we’re all loving riding and using the new infrastructure,” she says.

Cyclepalooza is running later in summer than it has in past years. The festival usually takes place near the end of June. Bray says the organizers wanted to see whether there would be an attendance dropoff, as Calgary Stampede ran concurrent with the opening of the festival, but the first few events were still successful.

Newly opened bike lanes are causing a cycling resurgence. // Louie Villanueva

Newly opened bike lanes are causing a cycling resurgence in Calgary. // Louie Villanueva

“It’s the first year we’ve had [Cyclepalooza] at the same time as Stampede and we were curious to see, but I don’t think the attendance was affected too much,” Bray says. “It seemed like most of the usual suspects were there.”

Bray says one of the biggest benefits of a festival like Cyclepalooza is being able to connect with like–minded people in Calgary.

“If you’re interested in cycling but don’t know many other people who are into it, Cyclepalooza is a great way to connect with other people who are interested in bikes,” Bray says. “If you’re unsure, take a leap and give it a try!”

Cyclepalooza will take place at various locations throughout Calgary from July 10–19. For more information, visit cyclepalooza.ca

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