Paris to Ancaster bike race cancelled over COVID-19 crisis

OPEN DIGITAL ACCESS Mar 20, 2020 by Scott Radley The Hamilton Spectator

FREE DIGITAL ACCESS: The Hamilton Spectator has made the decision to provide free digital access to essential local coronavirus articles. If you appreciate good journalism, please subscribe to thespec.com for unlimited access to all articles.

Please see the latest coverage on the coronavirus outbreak


By definition, cycling is an individual sport that requires some degree of social distancing. Unless, that is, you're interested in crashing into someone else and wiping out. Most aren't.

So why has next month's Paris to Ancaster bike race been cancelled as part of the sweeping coronavirus shutdowns? Surely if any event could've carried on, it would've been an outdoor competition like this. Co-race director John Thorpe had certainly hoped that would be the case.

"But it fell apart quickly," he says.

The problems aren't really on the bike. People are riding these days even in safe self-quarantine. The problems start before that.

A race this size — over 2,400 had already signed up — requires organization. That means a proper registration setup the day before where people can check in and get their numbers and stuff. In the past, there has also been a cycling expo. Do that and you have plenty of people in close quarters.

Getting the race started also means putting riders shoulder-to-shoulder in tightly bunched pens for a few minutes before the gun goes off. More close proximity.

And athletes are preparing for the ride, many are hydrating. Drink enough water and you'll eventually have to use the bathroom. Thorpe says in the current viral climate, the 15 porta potties that are usually set up near the start doesn't sound safe.

"That just seemed like a breeding ground to me," he says.

OK, so what about monitoring it by timer rather than straight order of finish. Stagger-start the riders so 10 leave every minute or something like that?

Thorpe thought of that. Trouble is the course crosses several roads between Paris and Ancaster. It's one thing to tie up those thoroughfares for a few minutes. It's another to block them for hours. No go.

Fair enough. Rather than cancelling, what about postponing it until later in the summer? Thorpe thought of that, too.

The problem here is that the route takes riders across farmers' fields. Those fields aren't planted in the spring when P2A needs them but they're growing soon enough. That can't work. Plus, the race ends at Morgan Firestone Arena where hockey and skating aren't going yet but by early fall, the place is in heavy use.

On top of everything else, Cycling Canada gave instructions on Friday that no events with more than 250 riders should go ahead. Almost immediately, the Ontario Cycling Association adopted the same position. You don't want to ignore those bodies.

Plus, there were riders coming from 10 states, seven provinces, England and Holland. They need time to cancel flights and hotel rooms. So he couldn't even wait a few weeks to see where things are and pull the plug then.

"It became pretty apparent on the weekend it wasn't a good idea to go ahead," Thorpe says.

The hope? This won't hurt the brand and folks who are missed the annual event will be even more excited to come next year. And maybe 2,400 becomes a much bigger number in 2021.

sradley@thespec.com

905-526-2440 | @radleyatthespec

Spectator columnist Scott Radley hosts The Scott Radley Show weeknights from 6-8 on 900CHML

Paris to Ancaster bike race cancelled over COVID-19 crisis

Just no way to run it differently or even postpone it, organizer says

OPEN DIGITAL ACCESS Mar 20, 2020 by Scott Radley The Hamilton Spectator

FREE DIGITAL ACCESS: The Hamilton Spectator has made the decision to provide free digital access to essential local coronavirus articles. If you appreciate good journalism, please subscribe to thespec.com for unlimited access to all articles.

Please see the latest coverage on the coronavirus outbreak


By definition, cycling is an individual sport that requires some degree of social distancing. Unless, that is, you're interested in crashing into someone else and wiping out. Most aren't.

So why has next month's Paris to Ancaster bike race been cancelled as part of the sweeping coronavirus shutdowns? Surely if any event could've carried on, it would've been an outdoor competition like this. Co-race director John Thorpe had certainly hoped that would be the case.

"But it fell apart quickly," he says.

The problems aren't really on the bike. People are riding these days even in safe self-quarantine. The problems start before that.

A race this size — over 2,400 had already signed up — requires organization. That means a proper registration setup the day before where people can check in and get their numbers and stuff. In the past, there has also been a cycling expo. Do that and you have plenty of people in close quarters.

Getting the race started also means putting riders shoulder-to-shoulder in tightly bunched pens for a few minutes before the gun goes off. More close proximity.

And athletes are preparing for the ride, many are hydrating. Drink enough water and you'll eventually have to use the bathroom. Thorpe says in the current viral climate, the 15 porta potties that are usually set up near the start doesn't sound safe.

"That just seemed like a breeding ground to me," he says.

OK, so what about monitoring it by timer rather than straight order of finish. Stagger-start the riders so 10 leave every minute or something like that?

Thorpe thought of that. Trouble is the course crosses several roads between Paris and Ancaster. It's one thing to tie up those thoroughfares for a few minutes. It's another to block them for hours. No go.

Fair enough. Rather than cancelling, what about postponing it until later in the summer? Thorpe thought of that, too.

The problem here is that the route takes riders across farmers' fields. Those fields aren't planted in the spring when P2A needs them but they're growing soon enough. That can't work. Plus, the race ends at Morgan Firestone Arena where hockey and skating aren't going yet but by early fall, the place is in heavy use.

On top of everything else, Cycling Canada gave instructions on Friday that no events with more than 250 riders should go ahead. Almost immediately, the Ontario Cycling Association adopted the same position. You don't want to ignore those bodies.

Plus, there were riders coming from 10 states, seven provinces, England and Holland. They need time to cancel flights and hotel rooms. So he couldn't even wait a few weeks to see where things are and pull the plug then.

"It became pretty apparent on the weekend it wasn't a good idea to go ahead," Thorpe says.

The hope? This won't hurt the brand and folks who are missed the annual event will be even more excited to come next year. And maybe 2,400 becomes a much bigger number in 2021.

sradley@thespec.com

905-526-2440 | @radleyatthespec

Spectator columnist Scott Radley hosts The Scott Radley Show weeknights from 6-8 on 900CHML

Paris to Ancaster bike race cancelled over COVID-19 crisis

Just no way to run it differently or even postpone it, organizer says

OPEN DIGITAL ACCESS Mar 20, 2020 by Scott Radley The Hamilton Spectator

FREE DIGITAL ACCESS: The Hamilton Spectator has made the decision to provide free digital access to essential local coronavirus articles. If you appreciate good journalism, please subscribe to thespec.com for unlimited access to all articles.

Please see the latest coverage on the coronavirus outbreak


By definition, cycling is an individual sport that requires some degree of social distancing. Unless, that is, you're interested in crashing into someone else and wiping out. Most aren't.

So why has next month's Paris to Ancaster bike race been cancelled as part of the sweeping coronavirus shutdowns? Surely if any event could've carried on, it would've been an outdoor competition like this. Co-race director John Thorpe had certainly hoped that would be the case.

"But it fell apart quickly," he says.

The problems aren't really on the bike. People are riding these days even in safe self-quarantine. The problems start before that.

A race this size — over 2,400 had already signed up — requires organization. That means a proper registration setup the day before where people can check in and get their numbers and stuff. In the past, there has also been a cycling expo. Do that and you have plenty of people in close quarters.

Getting the race started also means putting riders shoulder-to-shoulder in tightly bunched pens for a few minutes before the gun goes off. More close proximity.

And athletes are preparing for the ride, many are hydrating. Drink enough water and you'll eventually have to use the bathroom. Thorpe says in the current viral climate, the 15 porta potties that are usually set up near the start doesn't sound safe.

"That just seemed like a breeding ground to me," he says.

OK, so what about monitoring it by timer rather than straight order of finish. Stagger-start the riders so 10 leave every minute or something like that?

Thorpe thought of that. Trouble is the course crosses several roads between Paris and Ancaster. It's one thing to tie up those thoroughfares for a few minutes. It's another to block them for hours. No go.

Fair enough. Rather than cancelling, what about postponing it until later in the summer? Thorpe thought of that, too.

The problem here is that the route takes riders across farmers' fields. Those fields aren't planted in the spring when P2A needs them but they're growing soon enough. That can't work. Plus, the race ends at Morgan Firestone Arena where hockey and skating aren't going yet but by early fall, the place is in heavy use.

On top of everything else, Cycling Canada gave instructions on Friday that no events with more than 250 riders should go ahead. Almost immediately, the Ontario Cycling Association adopted the same position. You don't want to ignore those bodies.

Plus, there were riders coming from 10 states, seven provinces, England and Holland. They need time to cancel flights and hotel rooms. So he couldn't even wait a few weeks to see where things are and pull the plug then.

"It became pretty apparent on the weekend it wasn't a good idea to go ahead," Thorpe says.

The hope? This won't hurt the brand and folks who are missed the annual event will be even more excited to come next year. And maybe 2,400 becomes a much bigger number in 2021.

sradley@thespec.com

905-526-2440 | @radleyatthespec

Spectator columnist Scott Radley hosts The Scott Radley Show weeknights from 6-8 on 900CHML