Bike Week has been bursting at the seams. No longer able to squeeze the celebration of cycling into seven days, Toronto will now join Vancouver and New York and launch Bike Month.
Featuring 150 events over four weeks, Toronto's festival includes screenings, readings, parades and concerts, as well as group rides to the suburbs.
Christina Bouchard, a Bike Week organizer, compares the spirit to Pride Parade.
"You have all these people saying, 'I'm not riding a bike because I can't afford a car. I choose to ride my bike, I'm proud of that.' "
At the crack of dawn Monday, cyclists will swarm Nathan Phillips Square for the Group Commute brunch, while on Friday, roads around St. Lawrence Market will be closed for the Criterium Bike Race - the city's first large-scale urban bike race in 17 years.
After an intro by Canadian cyclist Curt Harnett, hundreds of pro road racers - including teams Race against Cancer, Jet Fuel and Wheels of Bloor - will whizz around the 950-metre course.
"It's kind of like the human Molson Indy," said Rob White, a Criterium organizer.
While not involved in an official capacity, new "bike gangs" will be out competing for style, not speed. One such gang, the Deadly Nightshades, is made up of six Toronto fashion designers who use the road as a runway to strut their latest sparkly scarves, skirts and boots. (A short documentary about them will screen at this year's Bike Film Fest.) "You don't have to look like a bike messenger to ride a bike, and most people don't want to ride a bike because of that," said one member, Meaghan Orlinski, unlocking her 1980s Barney-purple bike on a recent afternoon. "We want to help influence that."
Until June 21, various times. Free to $40. Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W. and other venues. 416-392-7592.
Criterium bike race, Friday, 4 p.m. Free. Berczy Park, 49 Wellington St. E. 416-392-7592.