By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
Organizers of the 21st Paris to Ancaster Bicycle Race (P2A) are in gear once again to ensure riders are challenged by some of the roughest terrain the area has to offer.
The road race is set to roll through farm lanes and fields, trails and gravel roads on Sunday, April 27, beginning at 9:45 a.m.
Race co-chair John Thorpe said, as in years past, both recreational cyclists and more experienced riders can expect muddy and sometimes gruelling conditions this spring.
“As normal, they can look forward to mud,” said Thorpe. “But it’s a good, fun and hard race to start the season.”
Inspired by France’s Paris-Roubaix Cycling Race, P2A presents a similar style of cyclo-cross racing. Combined with unpredictable spring weather and a large field of riders, the event has become a classic race experience for both average riders and Canadian Olympians.
Thorpe said P2A began more than two decades ago with 246 entrants and has grown steadily by about 200 participants each year. Last year, 2,300 brave souls tested their meddle against tough terrain.
P2A features two races – a 70-kilometre race from Paris and a 40-kilometre race from St. George. Both races end at the Ancaster community centre on Jerseyville Road, with an awards ceremony at 3 p.m.
Following the tradition set on last year’s 20th anniversary, the race will feature an Olympic Experience VIP package that enables riders to set out on the first wave alongside Olympians and other Canadian cycling stars.
A portion of the proceeds from the VIP package, plus entrance fees, will help build the 2015 Pan Am Velodrome in Milton. Thorpe said a $20,000 donation to the velodrome followed last year’s race, and he and co-organizer Tim Farrar hope to match or surpass that amount for 2014.P2A has committed to raising a total of $70,000 for the velodrome.
Olympians who have already signed on for this year’s P2A include Curt Harnett, Gord Singleton and Leigh Hobson, along with cycling stars like Justine Lindine, Mike Garrigan, and Aaron Schooler,
Thorpe said young cyclists are invited to join the Kids Let's Ride! course, presented in conjunction with Hamilton Youth Cycling. Limited to about 25 participants, Kids Let’s Ride! features instruction by Leigh Hobson, who represented Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Early bird registration for P2A is available at a discounted price until March 31. Thorpe said more than 1,200 entrants have signed up for the challenge.
For more information, visit parisancaster.com.