Between the first-ever World Outgames, which launches Wed, Jul 26 and Montreal’s Pride celebration Divers/Cité, which kicks off Sun, Jul 30, finding a finish line for this year’s Friends For Life Bike Rally was a challenge.
“Finding a spot was crazy,” says Lucinda Wallace, cochair of the Bike Rally. “Every park was booked.”
In years past the end point of the ride, which in its eighth year will see more than 230 cyclists make the six-day-long ride in support of the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, has been Parc Émile-Gamelin on Ste Catherine St E on the western edge of Montreal’s gay village. But since the Bike Rally will conclude its trek on Fri, Jul 28 — just as both the Outgames and Divers/Cité are revving up — the usual endpoint was off limits.
Thankfully, with the help of Montreal police, the Bike Rally found a home for its closing celebrations: Viger Square on the southern end of Montreal’s gay ‘hood.
The Bike Rally also had to work around a great deal of construction in order to plan this year’s route. As a result, riders will be meeting up at the head of the Lachine Canal, before riding single file along a bike path toward the finish line. All riders will arrive sporting their Bike Rally jerseys.
“We will be riding all together in the spirit of the ride,” says Wallace. “It’s a ride, not a race.”
While many riders get a free train trip back home to Toronto at the conclusion of the ride, courtesy of Via Rail — “It’s like a party train,” says Wallace — some will be giving up the freebie in order to stay in Montreal and enjoy the festivities on offer.
As for Wallace, after all the time she put into organizing the event, and then pedalling for six days, “I’ll be ready to come home.”