Hold the Line – 2018

Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining the second annual “Hold the Line” bike ride in Waterloo Region.  For a nominal cost of $20, the 125 km route around geographical boundaries of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge was available for cycling enthusiasts (a shorter 30 km ride was also available for less hard-core individuals).

According to their website;

Hold the Line is a small ‘nonprofit-that-could’ made up of artists, community builders, sustainability advocates, and Waterloo Region enthusiasts. We love the farms, towns, and natural spaces that make up our countryside, and the walkable shops and restaurants that make our downtown cores exciting places to work and play.  Our goal is to plan fun events and engagement opportunities that shift the needle towards sustainable development in Waterloo Region.

The two-day Hold the Line event featured live music, poetry, dance, yoga, plenty of food and drink and even overnight camping.  Held at Fertile Ground Farm, near St. Agatha, 2018 marks the second year for this grass-roots event.

The 125 km cycling route, titled “The KWC Line”, encompasses the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, while the shorter 32 km “Wellesley Line” rides around the town of Wellesley.

Just after 8 am on Saturday, a group of over 30 cyclists headed out on the 125 km ride.  I was there with some of my cycling friends from the Waterloo Cycling Club, including elite road racers, gravel enthusiasts, cyclocross racers and weekend warriors.  In contrast, I saw a wide variety of bicycles alongside us: a Brompton folding bike, at least one mountain bike and even a cargo bike.  I was on my road bike and tried to follow closely the elite riders who were keeping the pace at around 30 km/h (a relaxing, social pace for them; a harder workout for me).

After about an hour and a half, just after the first rest stop (which was provided by Ziggy’s Cycle), my friend Taryn and I decided to let the group ride on ahead while we decreased our pace to stop along the way for photo ops.  We met up with an old buddy of mine (Clay) and two new friends David and Robin.  By the time we reached the second rest stop at Four Fathers Brewery, we’d hit the 70 km point (after a quick visit to the Hub Bicycle Shop, where I had a quick chat with owner Cliff and Olympian Leigh!).

I didn’t stop for a beer (what was I thinking!?!?) but Clay did, so the four of us headed on our way through Hespeler and towards Breslau, Bloomingdale, Conestogo and eventually Waterloo.  By the time we hit the north end of Waterloo, we reached the 100 km mark and I started to feel the mileage in my legs (spoiler alert: I should have stopped for a beer with Clay!).  Our pace slowed, even with the tail wind.

New friends David and Robin took a bit of a detour in Waterloo to visit their colleagues at Waterloo Kung Fu Academy.  This same group provided a demonstration at the Hold the Line Festival later in the afternoon.  Taryn and I rode through St. Jacobs and Bamberg to the finish.  In these last kilometres, Clay passed us looking fresh and strong (probably from the Four Fathers beer he had).  He passed us with ease and we met up later at the farm finish.

It was a cool day so at the finish, there was a fire going.  My fast friends were sitting around the fire.  Many were still wearing their helmets!  And my buddy Gaelen was already on his second beer (which was available from TWB).  I was so hungry I ate a delicious tempeh burger in seconds flat (washed down by a TWB session IPA!).

Many thanks to the volunteers for this wonderful grass-roots event, which supported a great cause.  Sustainable urban development is important to me.  I’ve cycled so many of the country roads in the Region of Waterloo and it would be a shame to see the cities expand while the countryside diminishes.

Some photos I took during the event:

The “racers”, out for a leisurely ride while the rest of us rode in their draft and caught our breath at stop lights.
The rest of us!
Robin (left) and David, grabbing their phones to get a photo while we draft behind a tractor travelling 30 km/h.
Rest stop #2 at Four Fathers Brewery, Hespeler.
Awesome signage along the route.
Organizers had us covered for secure bike storage at the farm.

The KWC route: 125 km

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