2017 marks the 17th consecutive year that I’ll be entering the Ontario Spring Classic – Paris to Ancaster. It’s become a regular part of my schedule, and this year, for the first time, I’ll be riding my fat bike! I signed up for the shorter 40 km version of the race – St. George to Ancaster, which I’ve done a few times.
With my concussion recovery, I’m still unable to ride at higher levels of exertion for long periods of time, so I thought the smart thing to do was to sign up for the shorter distance. As for selecting a fat bike to ride… well, I’m sure there will be times during the race when I’ll be questioning that decision.
Way back in 2002, my first-ever cycling race/event was the then-60km version of Paris to Ancaster. I had a brand new Kona mountain bike that I’d just bought a month earlier. I remember arriving in Paris for the start of the race with my two brothers, not knowing what to expect. I finished in just under 3 hours, in 466th place! I don’t remember a lot of details, but I remember leg cramps on that final climb up Martin Road, and I was happy that I was able to ride up without having to stop!
The next year, the race was faster and I finished almost 20 minutes faster, but placed 466th again (it’s a real skill to finish in exactly the same place as the previous year in a race this big!). Over the previous 15 years that I’ve entered, I did the short distance three times (2009, 2010, 2011, while recovering from injuries), finishing as high as 55th in that distance. For the longer distance, I finished as high as 410th and as low as 819th (As you can see, finishing high in this race has never been a priority for me).
I couldn’t find a pic from my first P2A that year but here’s one from 2003:
By my calculations (I’m an engineer, so of course I’ve got a spreadhseet…), I’ve covered over 800 km of P2A distance in over 40 hours of riding (averaging around 20 km/h). I’ve raced on mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, franken-bikes and this year, as I mentioned above, I’ll be on a fat-tire bike.
I’ve heard a rumour that the mud chutes may have changed a bit. I have ridden them before, but typically, I walk. By the time I come through, most people are walking anyway, so I end up chatting with people:
This year, other than some easy rides (about once a week), I have no training, so I expect even the short distance to be a challenge. However, it’s an amazing event that I look forward to each year. I don’t get as nervous as I did in those early years, but I still get excited. It’s exciting to be surrounded by so many people with the common interest of cycling. The cycling club I belong to (Waterloo Cycling Club) typically has upwards of 50 people entered in this event. Plus many of the people I’ve met over the years through this and other events, plus social media. See you all there!