For the second year in a row, the race will be based out of downtown St. Jacobs, though this time the start and finish will not occur along King Street, to make sure vehicles have access to restaurants and businesses along the main drag throughout race day on June 21.
The “gran fondo” style event includes three courses to fit the abilities of beginner, intermediate and expert racers, with all registration fees directly supporting the Grand River Hospital Foundation and Kitchener Waterloo Counseling Services.
The fourth and final stop on Cycle Waterloo’s annual race calendar, the Tour de Waterloo has raised over $100,000 for charity, and organizers are hoping to bring in another $40,000 this year.
“Riders love the course and they really enjoy having the venue in St. Jacobs,” organizer Blake Ellis said. “This year, we decided to move the start and finish line over to try to keep the businesses open down there. But everybody really seems to love coming to St. Jacobs for the race because they enjoy the small town atmosphere, that’s one of the main reasons why we came back.”
The event takes place entirely on paved surfaces and is chip timed. The roads are not closed to vehicle traffic, though there will be paid duty police and auxiliary officers on site.
Routes are the same as last year, apart from the finish line, Ellis said.
The 133-kilometre main event heads northwest through Wallenstein and around Conestogo Lake, followed by a long stretch across Country Road 121. Next, riders turn left onto Line 61, right onto Township Road 20 and left on Deborah Glaister Line, before wrapping around Wellesley Village and travelling east on Weimer and Lobsinger Lines. The homestretch includes a stint on Three Bridges Road before the final sprint along Henry Street.
The middle distance race heads in the same direction, however racers will turn left on Herrgott Road instead of right, cutting the Conestogo Lake portion from the course and shortening the route down to 76 kilometres.
Finally, the 46-kilometre race also heads to the northwest, stretching from hemlock Hill Drive in the north, Greenwood Hill Road to the west and Weimer Line at its southernmost point.
A long continuous track rather than a small circle with multiple laps, makes this gran fondo race a real treat, and a challenge for riders, Ellis said.
“There are a lot more variations when you’re riding because there are different terrains and different wind factors. Wind plays a huge part, because depending on what direction you are riding, the wind can either be behind you or in front of you or there could be a cross wind. That plays a huge factor in racing, especially in our area where winds are such a big factor. And the terrain itself, so here we have the Glen Allen climb which is a pretty tough climb, but then you also have the hills out behind Conestogo Lake that are fairly tough and you have the Hawkesville Hill, where riders will do the backside which is a fourteen per cent climb.”
The day starts with the short course at 8:30 a.m. followed by the middle route at 8:45 a.m. and the long route at 9:05 a.m. Awards ceremonies and a banquet will take place at the St. Jacobs Arena beginning at 11 a.m.