I’ve been leading a Waterloo Cycling Club gravel grinder ride on Saturday mornings for a few years now, and this past weekend, we rode most of the 2015 Steaming Nostril course. The 2016 version of the Steaming Nostril is next Sunday April 3 and will follow a lot of the same route. For my 7th significant ride for my 50-in-50 rides for 2016, I’ll document our preride to give Steaming Nostril riders a preview of what they might expect next week.
A couple of pics from the ride:
Here’s the route we preride route we took: https://www.strava.com/activities/527301699
The 2015 event started in the village of St. Jacobs, so our group ride rode from the Farmer’s Market up to the village. The first 1-2 km of the Steaming Nostril (and the shorter Runny Nose event) is on a paved road before the first gravel road (2-3 km) on King St. north of St. Jacobs. The gravel road is hard packed dirt with a good smooth path, but it could be soft if there’s a lot of rain in the days leading up to the event. If the wind is from the W or NW, you’ll be into a headwind, and this road is a false flat uphill most of the way.
After King St., there are paved sections on Three Bridges, Hemlock Hill and Steffler Rd., for a total of about 4 km of paved road, with a slight uphill towards the end. Up next is 3-4 km of dirt road on Bricker School Rd. and Temperance Rd. Bricker runs East to West and is mostly downhill, with the exception of the last half km, which is a false flat uphill. Temperance (about 1.7 km) runs north, then west, uphill for the first 1 km, downhill the rest. This is followed by a fast paved km along Hergott to Lawson Line. Hergott is fast downhill to the Conestogo river, then back up to Lawson Line, which is one of my favourite dirt roads in the region. We usually ride it west-to-east, but in the Steaming Nostril, it will be in the opposite direction. Depending on the wind direction, this 5 km stretch of road could be where the winners are determined. With a couple small hills and a long false flat at the end (and potentially a head or cross wind) this section of gravel will be tough.
This is followed by a quick jaunt towards another of my favourite gravel roads in the area: Hackbart Rd. The north-to-south part of Hackbart is about 6 km with a couple of good climbs. Last year, the rest stop was at Hackbart and Boomer, and this intersection was passed twice by the long (70km) course, and once by the shorter (40 km) course (the 40 km Runny Nose turns left at Boomer, while the longer Steaming Nostril course continues south along Hackbart). Hackbart includes a long section of climbing, with grades up to about 10%. Although the elevation gain is about 60m, it feels like more because there are downhill sections.
There’s a fairly flat 6 km paved road section on Hessen Strasse and Hutchinson followed by more dirt on Streicher (6 km heading west – not much climbing but likely into a headwind), Chalmers Forest (6 km heading north – possibly a strong head or cross wind and net-up hill… false flat! ), and Schummer (6 km heading east – net downhill, possible tail wind).
Dirt roads continue with a short jaunt on Hutchinson followed by about 6 km from west to east along the dirt section of Boomer Line (net downhill, possible tail wind), after which Boomer is paved through to Kressler Rd. This paved section of boomer is about 3 km long with a climb of about 25m over 1 km. A short ride on pavement Kressler leads to some farmer roads that include some loose dirt, gravel and mud, winding past barns and farm houses. This year, there could be a surprise or two in this last section as riders make their way towards the Mill Run trail near St. Jacobs. This trail is less than 2 km and takes riders to the village of St. Jacobs and close to the finish. Across the street, there’s a wood staircase that leads riders to the finish. There are about 70 stairs to carry your bike, followed by a soft grass field to the finish.
Last year, Gaelen Merritt (Wheels of Bloor) crossed the finish line first (read about it here). Who will win in 2016?
Sign up here: http://cyclewaterloo.com/event/steaming-nostril/
Oh and one more thing, there are Fat Bike and Single Speed categories for both the full distance (70 km), and the shorter distance (the “Runny Nose”, 40 km)!