by Jared Gauthier
When you think of a festival, a bicycle probably isn’t the first image that comes to mind. For Rainbow Trout Music Festival, bicycles and the popular Bike Jams have become synonymous with the festival, raising awareness, and funds, to help grow a local celebration.
The Bike Jam originally started as a birthday bike ride for Ben Jones, Founder and Creative Director of the Rainbow Trout Music Festival.
“We were just out riding our bikes, and we brought a stereo with us,” says Will Belford, Shop Manager at Natural Cycleworks and Director of Operations at Rainbow Trout Music Festival. “It was so much fun, we stayed out all night.”
That’s when the ball (or tire) started rolling.
“From that point on, we just started inviting more people,” says Belford. “We got a bigger stereo and invited people, and about 60 people or so came and we thought ‘Hey, this is fun’.”
Now, the Bike Jams have grown into a monthly event during the summer, supporting the festival and bringing in new riders each time, like Natalie Gauthier.
“I just remember not having biked in years and going to my first jam being terrified of other cyclists,” says Gauthier. “But I had so much fun at the jam that I started going every month and cycling more and more.”
For other riders, like Kayla Goosen, it was an introduction to the Rainbow Trout Music Festival.
The community atmosphere of the jam definitely hyped it up,” says Goosen. “I didn’t even know what [RTMF] was before that jam and then I heard a bunch of stories about all the shenanigans that went on there and I was in.”
Events like the Bike Jams and the RTMF Alley Cat, presented by Natural Cycleworks, are also ways for festival organizers to help raise funds.
“Everything we do is always thinking about how people’s experience can be better,” says Belford. “That means getting more tents for shade. This year we’re also going to build another structure.”
One of this year’s headliners, Royal Canoe, have a strong connection to the Bike Jam. In 2017, they filmed their music video for “Fussin’’ featuring Begonia during a fan-filled Jam.
“Everyone was generous with giving us space and letting us be goofballs while lip syncing our song in a crowd of bikes,” says Matt Peters, vocalist in Royal Canoe. “It’s fun to be a part of this thing that you’re normally participating in and integrating it into this artistic expression.”
Even though she didn’t make the video, Goosen says that Bike Jam was special for her.
“That jam was so magical. We all kept biking behind the camera and the song was so catchy; we were all dancing on our bikes,” says Goosen. “[It was] such a fun and interactive idea.”
Royal Canoe is making their first appearance since 2013, and this year’s performance will mark an important milestone for the band.
“We did the math and we’re pretty sure this is going to be our 500th show as a band,” says Peters. “So, we felt like that would be a cool way to celebrate with our friends.”
For Peters, friends and familiar sounds are what keep him coming back to the Rainbow Trout Music Festival.
“It’s amazing when you go to the festival for one day and you get to be exposed to all this great stuff that is happening in Winnipeg and Manitoba,” says Peters.
Royal Canoe will be playing at the RTMF Saturday night at midnight.
Until then, you can catch one of the many hardworking people involved with the festival on the streets during one of the ever-growing Bike Jams this summer. Just don’t forget your helmet, and a few bucks to donate to the cause.