As emails fly, riders sharing info on races to choose from, it has become apparent that we are suffering from an embarrassment of riches with regard to spring classics events in Ontario and the Ottawa/Gatineau region.
The Tour of Bronte looks like a great event, well organized, and featuring a cool course. April 11th.
La Bici Squadra's Hell of the North was great in 2009, and promises to be great again (see video below from last year's race and witness the trench and Rodd and me stuck at a train crossing). The race is on April 11th.
Ride with Rendall are debuting their brand new event, the Clarence-Rockland Classic, features a great mixed terrain route, and should draw a big crowd. Plus its local! April 11th.
The Tour of the Battenkill in Cambridge NY, is the biggest race in North America. Over 2400 riders are registered for the the amateur races on...April 11th.
The Paris-Ancaster is reputed to be a great event, and featured mtb legend Allison Sydor in 2009. April 18th.
The Calabogie Classic road race on the car race track is April 18th.
The OBCs Paris-Roubaix, indeed classic, is April 25th.
See what I mean, just look at all these quality events scheduled for the SAME DAY. Is this necessary? I appreciate the challenges of scheduling events, after all, I am myself a scheduler. I can't quite understand why the first Sunday of April is being avoided like the plague.
There is certainly room; the Uxbridge Icebreaker traditionally occupied the first weekend of April, however it is, alas, no more. Dwindling numbers sealed its fate. I suspect massive snowfalls over the last two winters contributed to its demise. The Icebreaker ran for almost two decades and was a great event. But consider the number of spring classics events on offer for April 11th. Three of them are in Ontario and drawing numbers from each other. Sure, Battenkill is pulling riders away too - about 10 of the Tall Tree team are doing it - but I am not suggesting organizers up here factor US races heavily. The Tour of Bronte and Hell of the North are competing head to head, whereas the Clarence-Rockland is an NCR and Montreal kinda event. Its clear that the classics are very popular: we're talking about three new sanctioned events over two years; that's a sign. At the same time, the Icebreaker is dead. The writing is on the wall: people like the classics, a lot. Perhaps the Icebreaker would be viable as a classic, with more emphasis on dirt roads than trails? The OBCs Paris-Roubaix is a huge pull in the NCR, drawing riders out to compete who won't do any other race all year. Its that popular. Classics rule.
So its clear that there is a lot of interest and participation in spring classics in Ontario and the US. 2010 is locked down, but perhaps better coordination can be struck for 2011, ensuring the racing is spread across April, and gasp, perhaps even start in March, so that we can enhance the scene and get more people out to participate. What about extending a bit into May? If these are the kinds of events people are most interested in, perhaps we should cater to them? The demand it out there, we need to figure out how to spread the love around. Perhaps link races together as part of a spring classics points series.... Am I off base or what? Your thoughts?
For spring classics lovers out there feeling constrained by the crunched schedule in April, don't forget the Wheelers' Mufferaw Joe event, and out Ride of the Damned, both in May, are designed to keep the classics flavour going, in an albeit less formal format.
As promised, here is the Hell of the North video from last year.
Weird width eh? Click here.