Get out your bowler hats and bow ties because cycling in Calgary is about to get a lot more stylish.
Taking place May 19, the third-annual Victoria Day Tweed Ride encourages cyclists to don their finest tweed, climb aboard their vintage bicycles and take a leisurely ride through downtown Calgary.
Beginning in London in 2009, the first Tweed Ride was touted as a “metropolitan bike ride with a bit of style.” The event has since gone worldwide, with rides in cities like New York, Paris and Tokyo.
Tweed Ride YYC organizer Joshua Crough believes community-oriented cycling events are a good way to promote interest in urban cycling.
“Starting group rides is a way to get people out on their bikes. Some people haven’t ridden a bike since they were a kid. It helps them feel comfortable in a situation where they might not,” says Crough.
Thirty riders participated in the first Victoria Day Tweed Ride in Calgary. That number grew to 130 last year.
“I wasn’t quite prepared for all of that. I didn’t have enough [registration] numbers,” says Crough.
This year Crough has prepared 200 registration numbers and is hopeful for the biggest year yet. While there is a suggested $10 donation to participate, all proceeds are donated to local non-profit Bicycles for Humanity, which gives bicycles to those in need in Calgary, Uganda and Mexico. Last year’s ride raised over $1,900.
Although the final route has not yet been confirmed, the ride will begin at the Sunalta Community Centre, travel through Mission and end in Kensington at the Oak Tree Tavern.
While cycling on downtown roads can be intimidating, Crough says that large group rides such as this one are a way to empower cyclists with the confidence needed to take to the roads and ride amongst traffic in the busy downtown area.
“In Calgary you can’t really ride downtown for the enjoyment of it, so most people are quite afraid of downtown,” says Crough. “[The Tweed Ride] is a very grassroots way to get people on bikes again and to promote cycling within the city. It’s not as hard as you think.”
While dressing up is half of the fun, the event is open to everyone wanting to enjoy a leisurely bike ride, not just those with vintage attire or wheels.
“It’s just a casual ride and if people don’t have tweed, they’re still welcome,” says Crough. “Just maybe not Lycra.”
The Tweed Ride is an allages event. Following tea at 2:00 p.m., the ride starts at 3:00 p.m.
While cyclists may join the ride along the way, pre-registration is encouraged. Those who register in advance are eligible for the best dressed competition at the Oak Tree Tavern.