What started out as just an idea at a motorcycle show has become an important date on the calendar for Calgary motorcycle riders of all stripes
Story by: Don Morberg
In Calgary, Two Wheel Sunday (2WS) is quietly becoming the largest one-day outdoor motorcycle event in Western Canada. Held the first Sunday in June, the gathering of all things motorcycle has grown in five years from an idea to an event with 9,000 participants, mostly riders.
“It started from a conversation over coffee at the Calgary Motorcycle Show in January 2014,” says Bobby Baum, one of the event’s founders and site coordinator. “Someone said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to bring the entire Calgary motorcycling community together in one place at one time?’”
Calgary has an extremely active bike community with more than 40,000 registered motorcycles, but it is highly segmented, as evidenced by the staunchly independent Harley groups, a Victory club, Gold Wing riders, a Women in the Wind chapter, a strong BMW community, Star Riders, sportbike groups crossing manufacturer lines, dirtbike riders, trikes, customizers, veterans and religious clubs, garage builders and racers of all stripes. Rarely, however, would these riders be seen together beyond the season-
starting Awareness Ride or season-ending Christmas toy runs.
The little organizing group quickly became a committee and began talking it up. The idea of a family-friendly, one-day street festival for motorcycles turned into a snowball rolling downhill. Soon clubs, dealers, rider-training schools, vendors, charities, veterans’ groups and individual riders started getting involved. For a site, organizers picked a two-block-long side road in an industrial area of northeast Calgary that was close to several of the major motorcycle dealers and shops.
Within a few months, the 2WS Motorcycle Association was formed and the first Sunday in June 2014 was set as the date for the inaugural event. A website and social media presence soon followed. Becoming an association was a legal necessity to apply to the City of Calgary to close the road for the day. The plan was to only allow motorcycle traffic on the street once the vendor tents and other displays were set up.
Because the event was on a Sunday, most companies along the street were to be closed. They were asked to let the event take over their parking lots, and although it meant moving vehicles and finding parking elsewhere, all agreed to support it. One hitch was the only business on the street that normally stayed open on Sunday, a bottle recycling depot right in the middle of the block. Cycle Works Calgary came up with an ingenious motorized solution. It donated the use of a quad to pick up the bottles and cans from people at the end of the block and transport them to the depot.
The site plan called for tents and displays to be in the parking lots with both sides of the street reserved for motorcycle parking. Doing it all by the book, 2WS followed the city permit to the letter, arranging for porta-potties, garbage cans, cleanup and event insurance. Blue Circle Insurance, a local company known for its work with motorcycle riders, stepped up to handle that requirement, while Lucid Moto provided graphics and signage for the 2WS kickoff.
Victory Riders Calgary (VRC) volunteered to put together a people’s choice show and shine with the public voting on the best customs, cruisers, baggers, vintage, sport bikes and scooters. James Hamling of the VRC executive led the organizing. “[VRC] saw right away the value of getting the entire motorcycle community together, so we were 100 per cent behind it from the beginning.”
Organizers seeking community support soon found widespread acceptance of the idea and applications for display space at the event started coming in. The cost for a display booth was set at a modest $50, with vendors providing their own tents and tables. The price was reduced if the organization promised to send two volunteers to help out with the event. Those volunteers would join the small army of volunteers who made sure the event ran smoothly. (Most wore bright orange T-shirts with “Voluntold” stencilled on the back.)
When 2WS opened the gates on a sunny morning on June 1, 2014, there were 33 vendors and displays lining 3A Street Northeast. Even before the 10 a.m. scheduled opening, motorcycles began rolling in.
Bikes of every description soon…