Don’t let the relentless winter fool you, bike season in Ontario is just around the corner.
A new addition to the spring classic schedule last year, the Steaming Nostril organized by Cycle Waterloo is coming up March 23.
The race starts and finishes at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira and takes riders on a 69km route through the heart of Mennonite country. Horses pulling buggies full of families going to and from church on the Sunday morning race day are a regular sight. And yes, the horses’ nostrils really do steam.
After attracting 274 riders in its inaugural year, Blake Ellis, who organizes the race with Malcolm Steven, said he’s expecting between 400 and 500 riders this year.
That growth, Ellis said, is consistent with how the Paris to Ancaster grew in its early years. That event, held a month after Steaming Nostril, is now one of the biggest races in Ontario.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever grow to be on par (with P2A) because of the time of the year and we can’t offer the singletrack trail because of weather conditions,” Ellis said. “But we want it to be a tune-up race for P2A, Good Friday and even some of the mountain bike races, so we figured having it at the end of March would be perfect.”
The race route consists of 60% farm and dirt roads, 35% rail trail and 5% paved road. Last year, it was the rail trail that was the most difficult part of the course with just enough snow on the ground to make it challenging.
“The conditions vary so much from year to year, but I think this year will be similar to last year’s conditions,” Ellis said, who said there’s a new river crossing on the route this year and an extra rest stop.
Also new for 2014 is a 39km “Runny Nose” option that starts 20 minutes before the longer race. Race headquarters has also been moved inside the arena and there’s a new jersey design with a caricature face on the back. To make things interesting, that face will change every year to represent the previous year’s winner.
For more information or to register, visit http://www.cyclewaterloo.com. Register before March 20 to save $29 off the day-of fee. If you are going to sign up on race day, it’s cash only.
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