While the Rio Olympics are in full steam in late August, Montreal will be pulling out all the stops at the site of the 1984 summer Olympics, the Big O, with the Jackalope Action Sports Festival between August 19-21. The festival will feature a broad range of sports/activities, including skateboarding, climbing, slackline, base jumping, freestyle motocross, flatland BMX, yoga, one-wheel, and. . . a fixed gear criterium!
I wanted to learn more about the crit and the event as a whole, so I got in touch with Josh Gieni, owner of the bike shop, iBike and lead organizer of the crit, to talk about the event. Sounds like a great time for everyone interested in action sports, from kids all the way up.
Thanks for taking the time to talk about the iBike criterium at the Jackalope Festival, Josh, and for putting in all the effort to make the event possible. For those reading who don’t know, what’s iBike?
Velo iBike is a Montreal shop that specializes in Fixed Gear bikes. It’s first and foremost based on one idea: Together We Are More. It’s with that in mind that we’ve tried to give to the community and share our passion for the last 5 years.
Cool. So, what’s the Jackalope Festival all about? How long has it been running, and what can people expect to find going on there? It looks like a great event for young ‘extreme’ types and families alike.
Jackalope Festival is an original idea from the team at Tribu Expérientiel. They wanted to create an Action Sport happening to reflect their passion. It started with Skateboarding, then wakeboard, bouldering, fixed gear, slackline and now for the 5th edition, they will be introducing a Canadian first, a legal base jumping platform from the top the Olympic Stadium’s tower!
Wild! Thhe venue is pretty unique; I have fond memories of spending time riding street at the Big O while I lived in Montreal, and visiting the BioDome with my kids. How did the Jackalope Festival wind up there?
The goal was to bring a new side of expression to Montreal. We already know Montreal as a very artsy and musically recognized metropolitan city, but what about action sports? We have athletes that exude passion about their sport, but also about theirs roots and lifestyles! Then you have the Olympic Stadium, which has been putting tons of work for the past couple years into reviving its facilities, including activating their Esplanade. It’s been working well, and Jackalope Fest has been there since the debut. Combine the growing demand for action sports and the Olympic Stadium’s activation needs and boom, you got the Jackalope Fest!
You’re running the iBike Criterium as part of the program for the festival. How would you situate this race among other fixed gear crits you have been exposed to? Where does it fit into the scene?
It is one of many parts of a new machine that is evolving. The fixed gear crit scene is the most exciting crit scene there is. The people are interesting, the style is interesting and it is full on extreme. People like watching crazy races and when men and women are hitting speeds of 60k/h without brakes you have a recipe for excitement and elevated heart rates .iBike Crit is no different, a bit less wild than a Red Hook Crit, but more technical than a regular industrial/city centre crit.
I see from the schedule that you are planning a skills clinic for newer fixed gear riders. This seems like a great idea, similar to sessions velodromes hold. Tell us about your approach, and how you see it unfolding.
Our mission as a bike shop is to inspire cyclists. To do this we also need to make cycling as accessible as possible. The easier you make it for people to say yes to cycling, the more cyclists you will see on the roads and in races! Dead angles, keeping your lane, drafting properly… we’ll have different level athletes, from pro (yes, we have a pro fixed gear criterium racer in Montreal!) to beginners, men and women. The goal is that every style of rider that comes finds answers to his/her questions. We also want experienced people that want to try out the course. Nothing like a pack to learn riding in a pack!
The initiation/recon of the track will be August 19th, 17:00. Just come around with a festival pass and come try the course to spot the tricky spots.
Here’s the event link.
Ok, so the iBike crit will be on Saturday night. Let’s hear about the course; it is gnarly or what?
Up the front, we should reach top speeds of 60k/h, with two 180 deg hairpins and a couple bending corners. Last year wasn’t exempt to some little crashes, but the course is not what makes the race gnarly. The riders pushing their limits are what make a course gnarly or boring.
Agreed! Last year how was the turnout for the race? Do you have a sense of numbers this year, and perhaps a target?
With last year being over 50 riders, we are looking for a solid 80 riders this year, to keep our reputation of the biggest Fixed Gear Crit in Canada. We always want more women too, so make sure to reach out to those feminine badass cyclists out there; last year was the first known Women’s Fixed Gear criterium race in Canada! Let’s keep the stoke going!
Nice! For those thinking of giving the race a crack, what gearing would you suggest? Are riders required to race brakeless, or are brakes permitted?
You’ll want a strong but balanced ratio. Depending on your preference on spinning versus grinding, I’d say a 50x15t will be the median we’ll see on the course. The race is brakeless with a track frame and drop bars. We have our rules and regulations on the iBike Crit event page, and a mechanical check will be performed before access to the track is granted, based on Red Hook Crit rulebook.
Right on. How about you go ahead and shout out the event’s sponsors!
Pure Fix has been on board from the beginning! Bern and Muscle MLK have been on our side for 2 years now. Oakley is on board this year. Gophrette Power has been the camera man for the shop and team for more than 5 years! And thickslick tires are by far the most comfortable-riding city tire on the market. Without them we would not have a race!
Awesome to see so much support! Closing things out, how can folks help spread the word and get involved?
Go on social media, talk about it and share the publications ☺ Like and share and then get your friends amped on a road trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world for a kick ass weekend of extreme sports and the beers that go with!.
iBike on Instagram: @velo_ibike