P2A Cel­e­brates 25th An­niver­sary


Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Peter Kraiker

The year was 1994. A cou­ple of guys with event-tim­ing equip­ment wanted to fill a gap in their cal­en­dar and thought it would be fun to hold a Paris-Roubaix trib­ute race. The idea wasn’t unique, as oth­ers had a sim­i­lar thought and other trib­ute races al­ready ex­isted. But Tim Far­rar and John Thorpe, along with Chris Kiri­akopou­los, had the town of Paris, Ont. in their sights for the start. And so Paris to Ancaster (P2A) was born.

The idea was to host a “road race for moun­tain bik­ers or a moun­tain-bike race for road rac­ers” over a course, avoid­ing roads as much as pos­si­ble, ac­cord­ing to Far­rar. While the two main stretches of rail trail (the Grand River and Jerseyville rail trails) were easy to de­cide on, the rest is pri­mar­ily pri­vate prop­erty. It took the or­ga­niz­ers a cou­ple of years to at­tain enough sec­tors to make the full course work. While the course changes from year to year based on per­mis­sion, many of the landown­ers have been long-time sup­port­ers, with one pri­vately owned sec­tor be­ing in­cluded for ev­ery edi­tion.


While Far­rar, Thorpe and Kiri­akopou­los couldn’t fore­see how pop­u­lar P2A would be­come, there were early signs. That first year they hoped for per­haps 100 peo­ple. Ac­cord­ing to Far­rar, “We had to de­lay the start to sign ev­ery­body up. Two hun­dred and sixty-six fin­ished that year.”

From the first year, the race has ended with the Martin’s Road hill. It starts out rel­a­tively easy and ends with a steep pitch now filled with cheer­ing spec­ta­tors. The orig­i­nal start was at the Syl Apps Sports Cen­tre in Paris, and ac­cord­ing to Paul St. Pierre, the only rider to have raced ev­ery edi­tion of P2A, no one knew what to ex­pect be­tween the two ends. The 70km race now starts at the Green Lane Sports Com­plex near the Grand River, which is well suited to the large field of rac­ers.

The in-be­tween sec­tions change from year to year. This is due in part to the use of pri­vate land and in part to weather. How­ever, a cou­ple of sec­tions have not changed, and they help de­fine the very char­ac­ter of the race. Read­ers who have raced any of the P2A dis­tances know what I’m talk­ing about be­fore I even fin­ish the thought, and are al­ready re­mem­ber­ing their own ex­pe­ri­ences in the Pow­er­line and Min­eral Springs mud chutes. If you are read­ing this and won­der­ing, be­cause you haven’t raced it, just search for “P2A mud” to see for your­self. There are ru­mours that peo­ple have lost shoes in the strength-sap­ping deep mud.


There are still some fi­nal ap­provals to se­cure be­fore the route is con­firmed and, as al­ways, the or­ga­niz­ers won’t pub­lish a route map in ad­vance, so the mys­tery of the in-be­tween con­tin­ues.

There will likely be more farm lanes, gravel roads and the re­turn of sec­tors miss­ing from the past few edi­tions. Far­rar also men­tioned a tun­nel for the 2018 edi­tion – per­haps lo­cals can guess where. He went on to say, “As ever, the race-day route de­pends on con­di­tions on the day. Pow­er­line and Min­eral Springs mud chutes re­main in their tra­di­tional con­di­tion and de­ci­sive role in the race.”

In ad­di­tion to de­liv­er­ing a chal­leng­ing course, the or­ga­niz­ers also de­liver a stim­u­lat­ing field for the top rac­ers. It’s a tra­di­tion to have Pro rac­ers from around the world par­tic­i­pate in both the women’s and men’s first wave. This year will see Cana­di­ans Gun­nar Holm­gren (hop­ing to de­fend his 2017 ti­tle), Ruby West,

Jodi Wend­land and Matt Surch line up with in­ter­na­tional rac­ers who in­clude Re­becca Fahringer (the top woman in 2017), He­len Wy­man, Mar­greit Klop­pen­berg and Ian Field. Ex­pect the race to be fast and fu­ri­ous from start to fin­ish. Ac­cord­ing to Far­rar, “Canada, France, U.S.A., Great Bri­tain and Den­mark are ex­pected to be podium threats/top five in both men’s and women’s races.”

Reg­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to be capped at 3,000 over­all, with each dis­tance hav­ing its own cap based on start-line ca­pac­ity. As of this writ­ing, there are still some spots avail­able in later waves, although a VIP en­try gives ac­cess into any wave or dis­tance. The first three waves in the 70km dis­tance have been full for quite a while, so if you’re late reg­is­ter­ing, a VIP en­try is the only way to be near the front at this point.

One sig­nif­i­cant change for 2018 is that there will no longer be race-day reg­is­tra­tion-pack­age pick-up. This dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion made by the or­ga­niz­ers is in­tended to help smooth both the start and the re­sults at the fin­ish, so be sure to get your pack­age be­fore race day. Ahead of the Sun­day, April 29 race there is a Demo Day on Satur­day with ex­hibitors such as Can­non­dale, Gi­ant, Garneau and Mil­ton, Ont.-based Cana­dian Cy­cling Sup­plies, to name a few. It’s an op­por­tu­nity to try out some great gear and bikes while you pick up your reg­is­tra­tion pack­age.

Who will win the 25th edi­tion? And what spe­cial tro­phy will they win? Those ques­tions will be an­swered in a few short weeks. And if you’re won­der­ing how to train for this “Clas­sic,” you’ll find some great tips on the Paris to Ancaster web­site at www.pari­san­caster.com.

Paris to Ancaster has be­come an iconic bucket-list Clas­sic.

Gun­nar Holm­gren wins the 70km race at P2A in 2017.

“P2A mud” is some­thing you won’t soon for­get.

Many cy­cling rock stars such asleg­endary Steve Bauer have takenon P2A.

Words of wis­dom

P2A founders (l-r) Tim Far­rar, Chris Kiri­akopou­los and John Thorpe

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