Rainbow Trout Music Festival (RTMF) organizers Ben Jones and Will Belford have partnered with Andy Rudolph to throw mobile parties with participants biking from one outdoor location to the other.
Picture it: you are surrounded by over 250 of your closest friends, a giant three-wheeled bike hauling two mobile amps and a laser show, cruising through city streets blaring carefully-crafted playlists. Well—dream no longer—this fantasy is a reality thanks to two music festival organizers and a man with “a soldering iron and never-ending energy.”
The RTMF Bike Jams started in August and are holding their fourth and final event of the year on Oct. 27—meeting location to be determined—with The Ghost Ride. The events were born out of a few similar low-fi nights with Ben Jones, his brother Luke, and Will Belford.
“We rode, just the three of us. Pumping music, all night – and I mean all night. I fell asleep on a massage table around 11:30 a.m. the next day. We rode everywhere that night. The bikes give us a beautifully tangible freedom that anyone can tap into. That combined with hype music was damned electric,” says Belford.
The bike rides quickly evolved when they hooked up with Andy Rudolph to create a giant trailer that could hold two giant amps, fuelled by a boat battery, and that debuted two laser boxes on their Nuit Blanche art crawl.
“The best way to get people out is nice loud music, the best way to produce loud music is big amps!” says Belford. “And the best way to carry big amps is on a big crazy bike! Having access to the trike, and the system is a boon, certainly. But the biggest component is the people! Without people coming out, it’s all for naught.”
And the people come. The rides started with about a hundred attendees, but have now grown to 300+ participants – nearly one kilometre of bikers, all stretched out.
“With the larger numbers we’ve become very serious about safety. We’ve put an emphasis on being as polite as possible. With each other, and with the other vehicles on the street,” Belford says.
By setting some ground rules, like no glass bottles and sharing the road with motorists, organizers are able to ensure that they retain community support.
“I think these rides are important to the cycling community and the city, all the same. It shows the riders that there’s a lot of ways to ride a bike and they’re all good. This is showing those who don’t identify as a cyclist, that we’re out there! We’re going to keep growing whether we get more bike lanes or not. So we may as well just put them in, eh?”
The rides are becoming as important to the Rainbow Trout brand as the festival itself. The rides offer an amazing feeling of community to seasoned road warriors and newbies alike. Hanging out with friends new and old, drinking beverages out of old Nalgene bottles in parks and consuming a whole lane of traffic – feeling invincible instead of vulnerable on the city streets is an experience everyone should have at least once.
“Drivers are smiling and waving, or giving beeps of encouragement. Pedestrians are cheering us on. And cyclists join up and come with us! It’s all so natural feeling. This kind of thing is just supposed to happen. You can feel it.”