Rally in the Rockies

Story by Emily Roberts// Photos by Rod Sanchez
July 6 2021

When the possibility of holding a motorcycle rally was looking bleak, Calgary H-D and other Alberta businesses stepped up to create a safe rally environment.

In August 2020, while life in general around the world was awry, the staff at Calgary Harley-Davidson were preparing to bring the motorcycle community safely back together while still offering a genuine bike rally feel. The rally allowed riders to meet face-to-face again, and benefit from the sense of community we had been missing since March 2020, when the pandemic began changing all our lives. This year, Rally in the Rockies is planned for August 13-21, 2021, offering scenic ride tours, poker runs, show ‘n’ shines and much more.

Eric Sum, general manager of Calgary Harley-Davidson, has been a long-time supporter and attendee of the large U.S. motorcycle rallies like Daytona, Americade and Sturgis. In 2020, when the pandemic hit and borders closed, he realized that Canadians may not be able to make their annual ride to Sturgis, so he and the dedicated folks at Calgary H-D — along with local businesses — hatched a plan to have a weeklong event celebrating motorcycling on this side of the border.
“[We wanted to] try to bring back and boost that Canadian energy, should the borders not be open, and people still want to ride their motorcycle but don’t have anything to look forward to,” Sum said. “So we kind of created this around [the idea] that, if Sturgis is a go, we will just be a stop along the way. If Sturgis is a go but the borders are still closed, we can offer a destination for people that are not getting to Sturgis. It’s turned into a two and a half month-long project, and a lot of enthusiasm and excitement between partners and sponsors and a lot of people wanting to see this happen.”

It just so happened that the borders remained closed, so the event became a destination for those motorcyclists who could not go to Sturgis and many others who just wanted to attend a rally again. The event was a huge success, showing Western Canada that a larger-scale rally can be held safely while still maximizing the involvement of both community and local businesses — and providing a fantastic celebration of motorcycling itself.

More Than Just a Dealership

Calgary H-D offers a unique experience. When you walk into the dealership, it becomes abundantly obvious that, not only does it sell stock Harleys, but also offers house-built choppers and customs to buy right off the showroom floor. There are also completely personalized custom builds. Sum’s goal is to not only give builders complete freedom with their work, but also to let the customer be part of the process of designing their dream bike, from start to finish. “It’s the most incredible feeling, the smiles and the pride of actually being involved and to have it built,” Sum said.

On top of its impressive custom build shop, the dealership also offers a full lineup of Harley-Davidson rentals for customers. With a location that’s less than two minutes from the airport, Sum’s shop is a perfect gateway to a stress-free tour of Western Canada.

Rocky in the Rallies 2021

In 2020, rally attendees were equal parts new and experienced riders, sharing their passion with others and exemplifying the importance of community within motorcycling. This year might see even more new riders join the mix, based on the upward trend in Canadian motorcycle sales throughout the remainder of 2020 and the first half of this year.

For 2021, the Rally in the Rockies has expanded and will offer more events, rides and concerts, along with drag races, veterans’ rides, poker runs, ride-and seek-and, much more. One addition that may catch some off-guard is the dedicated adventure bike ride that Calgary H-D will offer. That’s right: This is perhaps the first H-D event with specific rides dedicated to the adventure segment, showcasing, of course, the new H-D Pan America 1250.

Not only do I expect this event to bring in a completely new type of rider to a Harley dealership, but also that this could result in a crossover community being built between the cruiser and adventure segment.

For two opposite sides of the motorcycle demographic to come together under one roof — let alone the roof of H-D, who’s been seen for many years as a single-faceted manufacturer catering almost primarily to the cruiser segment — will be an exceptional moment and surely create many unexpected friendships that will only better our riding community.

We are lucky enough to already be part of an incredibly tight-knit community because we ride, but to come together over a week to celebrate motorcycles with other people now also provides intimate interactions that we’ve been deprived of this past year. There is no doubt that, for 2021, Rally in the Rockies will be the destination for motorcyclists of all kinds in Western Canada.

For more information, go to therallyintherockies.com.

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