Polka, pretzels, pilsner and … pedal power?
Getting an early jump to earn a few Oktoberfest indulgences, cyclists are taking to regional roads Saturday for the festival’s fourth annual Tour de Hans. A pair of routes will take them through roads in Woolwich, among others.
“Oktoberfest wanted to create more opportunities for us to bring the experience and spirit of Gemuetlichkeit to new people who may not have experienced it before,” event organizer Laurie Davidson said this week.
Putting a Bavarian twist on the famous Tour de France, “Onkel Hans,” Oktoberfest’s goodwill mascot, will work off the beer belly, feel the wind in his glorious moustache and bring the festive experience to a different demographic by combining traditional aspects of Oktoberfest with the popularity of cycling.
Riders can choose from two routes: a 100-kilometre ride that circles Woolwich’s Katherine Street, around West Montrose and on to Alma, or a shorter 50km ride. Cyclists will take off from the Kool Haus tent at Bingemans during a rolling start and pick up speed at the official start at Schaefer Park on Bloomingdale Road.
“We take care to create a route that is both interesting for the riders and also challenging for those who are racing. They can look forward to a traditional Oktoberfest experience at the finish line, including Bavarian food, live entertainment and a traditional keg-tapping ceremony,” Davidson said.
Today’s Tour de Hans also features a junior circuit. The Jump Start junior cycle is open to kids 9-15, with $5 from each registration fee going to the Canadian Tire Jump Start sports program. The excitement doesn’t end there, Davidson added, as all winners of the Tour de Hans race will be invited to ride in this year’s Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day parade (October 14).
“Taking something that is very popular out there in the community such as cycling, running and culinary events, we’re partnering it up with what the festival does best, which is the Oktoberfest experience. We’re bringing people to a world-class cycling event, but it’s got a really unique twist,” she said.
“Onkel Hans’” tour heralds the 45th Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, which runs October 11-19. It will be a closed course with assistance from police. Riders can register Saturday before the 9 a.m. start of the 100km race and 10 a.m. for the 50km race at www.tourdehans.ca. For general festival information, visit www.oktoberfest.ca.