The hundreds of cyclists on the road around Hawkesville Sunday weren’t just out to win a race, they were raising money for the village community centre.
It’s the fifth time the KW Classic Road Race has launched from Hawkesville, but it’s still not without its challenges, as township officials haven’t always embraced cycling events, citing disruptions to traffic and other concerns. Last month, for instance, council declined race organizer Cycle Waterloo’s request to waive or reduce the $500 fee for the special event permit needed to host the race.
“Our township roads do cost a lot of money to maintain,” said Mayor Joe Nowak in a council meeting on May 15. “And I think we have to recognize that. It’s important for us to keep those roads in good shape, and there’s a cost involved in that.”
Despite this setback, Cycle Waterloo proceeded with the event as they did the previous year. Among the participants was Hawkesville’s Scott Brubacher, a member of the club who has been racing professionally for two years.
“What I dislike is how the mayor and council of Wellesley is trying to shut us down,” he said.
“They’re charging a lot of money for the event. So for the start-up cost and also charging money for each racer that’s attending. It seems a little bit ridiculous. We’re not putting any wear and tear on the roads compared to traffic. And our event raises money for the community of Hawkesville. I think last year we raised $3,000.”
Athletes of all shapes and sizes raced in 11 different categories – elite, master and junior – in a circuit course to determine who was the fastest cyclist. The number of laps and overall length of the course varied depending on the level.
Sunday’s race marked the 32nd time it’s been held in the region and the fifth in Hawkesville.
“It’s a very controlled course,” said Malcolm Steven, co-founder of Cycle Waterloo. “It’s very exciting to watch, a lot of spectators interested in coming out are from Kitchener-Waterloo. The Hawkesville community has been wonderful to work with, we know they’re very supportive and they generally come to watch the races. We have traffic control, we have police and volunteers, and all those things in place to make it very manageable. People need to get out of their homes, we help them do all that.”
All participants must obtain a license with the Ontario Cycling Association before competing. Anyone who does not have a license needs to go through a registration process.
“When you start racing, you have to start in the bottom tier which is E4,” explained Brubacher. As you do well in races, you gain points and then you can upgrade into the next category, so this year I’m racing in E3.”
Racers attend this event from all across Ontario, including from London, Ottawa and Toronto, according to Steven. There were approximately 250-400 cyclists who participated. There were a variety of refreshments provided as well as medical personnel and police on the site.
“Don’t be scared to try cycling and to join a club. Because there are cycling events and rides that you can join for all levels of ability. So you don’t have to think, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t do this because I’ve never ridden on a bike before or I’m not very skilled.’ We have organized club rides with the Waterloo Cycling Club. My word for the public would be to get out and try it because it’s an awesome way to get off the couch and make new friends, and see nature firsthand.”
Anyone interested in joining the cycling club can visit www.waterloocycling.com. Results from the race can be found at www.ontariocycling.org/results.