Het grote Ras (The Big Race)
-report submitted by Ian Hall
The first bike race of 2010 is coming up on April 25th. This year’s season opener, organized by the Olympia Cycling Club, will be something special. Hosted by the Belgian-Manitoban community of Bruxelles (about 90 minutes southwest of Winnipeg), the course comprised of some of the most scenic (and most hilly) roads in Manitoba.
Styled like the “spring classics” that take place in Flanders at this time year and involve steep hills and rough cobbled roads, Manitoba’s own Belgian Classic will substitute gravel for the cobbles and includes sections of the Trans-Canada Trail. A winding lap of about 30 km will challenge riders with over 1,000 feet of climbing over nearly a dozen short, steep hills. Nobody will leave unchallenged.
The event is classed as a Manitoba Cup race and we’re expecting all the top riders from around the province to compete for series points. Elite riders will complete 3 laps, with novices and intermediates doing 1 or 2. A participation-oriented tour, led by experienced cyclists, is also taking place the same day for riders who want to try out the course at a more leisurely pace.
The Manitoba Belgian community and the town of Bruxelles are both involved in the event. A short awards banquet in the community hall following the race will include a performance by Winnipeg’s Belgian Folk Dancers. Locally-prepared Belgian beer stew and other treats will await hungry riders and spectators. Tours of historic St. Gerard’s church and cemetery will be available throughout the afternoon, and a large playground is nearby.
More event details, including course maps, can be found at www.olympiacyclingclub.ca.
We’re looking for riders, spectators, and a few more volunteers. If you have questions or would like to help, contact Hal Loewen at email@example.com.
AND: A few people have asked about equipment. For the race categories, you are required to use a road (or cyclocross) bike. The roads are in excellent condition, so regular road tires (700×23) should suffice (a group ride last weekend that included about 7 people on 23mm tires did not result in any flats). That said, 25-28mm tires would probably be more comfortable and would be less prone to pinch flats. There will be a separate “open” category race (1 lap) for anyone wanting to race on a mountain bike. Oh, and… glasses and gloves are recommended to protect against the odd little stone that gets kicked up.
AND ALSO: The Olympia Cycling Club is also hosting the mountain bike season opener the following weekend (May 2) at Grand Beach Provincial Park. A fast and fun course is planned – c’mon out and ride or get some good bike karma by lending a hand helping out.