Canada's classic spring bicycle race Paris to Ancaster is back

P2A steps up to sponsor Canada's national cyclocross teams

There is just something about the Paris to Ancaster bicycle race (P2A), scheduled for Sunday, April 28 beginning in the town of Paris, Ontario. It comes at a time of year when the leaves are beginning to bud, that pent up energy that comes from months spent on ice is bursting to get out and the back roads and trails are good and muddy.

It’s what some call ‘mystique.’ And P2A has a great big old slab of it.

The race has long been a proving ground for young cyclists, especially those who cyclocross. There continues to be a large contingent of the top cyclocross riders in the country that circle the P2A date on the calendar. Many of whom from the men’s and women’s national teams.

Throw a bushel of UCI Continental team riders into the mix, and the local weekend warriors, and it makes for some seriously competitive racing and epic good times.

The race, founded in 1994 by Tim Farrar and Jim Thorpe, was inspired by the 122-year-old Paris-Roubaix race in France. There are a number of distances available, the most popular being the long 70K race followed by a 40K, 20K and kid’s race.
For years now, the founders of P2A have made it a point of pride to support members of the cyclocross national teams, who attend Paris To Ancaster year after year, such as three-time defending men’s champion Gunnar Holmgren.

Holmgren, fresh off his foray to Europe where he competed in three cyclocross World Cup races, is looking forward to defending his title this spring. And although he appreciates the level of competition at the race, he is a big fan of the positive vibe.

“I think I enjoy the atmosphere at P2A the most,” he says. “It’s a unique event where all different types of riders come to race or ride on the same course. It’s also a brutal course and everyone is pretty tired at the end where there is good food and lots of stories to tell.”

This year, in the 26th running of the race, the relationship between P2A and Canada’s national cyclocross team has been formalized with the race becoming an official sponsor of the team.

“This was actually the first time any Cycling Canada discipline that wasn’t in the Olympics has gotten a sponsor on its own,” says Farrar.

This five-year financial commitment from P2A will directly help the National Team program by offsetting the costs associated with providing mechanical and coaching support to national team athletes while at international competitions.

“In a sense, P2A is simply doubling down on a year’s long commitment to provide what support we can. The National Cyclocross team athletes and staff can count on us for the next five seasons…at least,” he adds.

“This is really exciting as it’s the first time we’ve had a sponsor step in to help one of our non-Olympic disciplines,” says Kris Westwood, Head of Performance Operations at Cycling Canada. “Cyclo-cross is a fun and safe yet challenging introduction to cycling for many athletes that has high performance targets in its own right; many of our current track, mountain bike and road national team members had their first world championships experience in cross. And of course, the success of the Paris to Ancaster Bike Race is testimony to how popular this branch of cycling is in North America.”


And the 2019 Paris to Ancaster, is shaping up to be one of its most competitive.

Farrar explains that number UCI Pro Continental teams will be heading to the race including some of those who are part of the new Floyd’s Pro Cycling team, backed by former pro cyclist and teammate cum whistleblower of Lance Armstrong.

“There is also an entrance from a UCI Continental team based in Boston, and two of those guys just represented the U.S. at Cyclocross Worlds,” says Farrar.

Holmgren says the competition at the race has always been good.

“Many cyclocross pros race even though it’s their off season but the pro mountain bikers have already raced a few times so they are ready to go,” he says. “Last year Jeremy Powers and Anthony Clark raced, both high level cyclocross pros from the states. Also, on the women side there is lots of competition with some European pros making the trip over the pond to race.”

At this race, although there are portions on the road, gravel and mud, so although no one discipline is perfect, it does favour a rider used to a mixed bag of trail tricks.

“It is no secret the kind of bike and the kind of rider that does well at Paris to Ancaster is basically the cyclocross rider,” says Farrar. “Basically they are super-fit for a one-hour race, so stretching that to two hours for P2A is not an issue. They can get through the mud, hop the ditches, but also have the skills to ride in a road race.”

There have been route changes over the years, and again this year to a minor degree, but the spirit of the race remains. The challenge, the people and the mud.

“It has that history, and the big parts haven’t changed so you can compare yourself year to year,” says Farrar. “Once you’ve done it, you know what it’s like to go down that power line mudslide, that’s part of it. And certainly the finishing hill is kind of a trademark.”

If one has hiked the Niagara Escarpment, it is easy to imagine the size and pitch of said hill.

“It’s around 100 metres, like any other point on the escarpment with the steepest point being 13 per cent,” says Farrar.

“It’s pretty steep for a gravel road,” he adds, with a laugh. “Lots of people walk, put it that way.”

To register for the race go to and be sure to do so before Feb. 28 after which there is a price increase.



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Treating Concussions with Physiotherapy

According to Statistics Canada approximately 30,000 hockey players a year suffer a concussion

It’s everywhere.  The talk about concussion. Everyone seems to know someone that has had one or is currently sitting on the sidelines because of one.  

According to Statistics Canada approximately 30,000 hockey players a year suffer a concussion.  Seventy eight percent of all concussions occur during sport. 

What is a concussion? A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. It is a shear stress to the brain tissue caused by rotational or angular forces, direct impact is not required. Some injuries to the brain can cause a loss of consciousness, but most concussions do not. Because of this, some people have concussions and don't realize it. Most symptoms resolve within 7-10 days, however, approximately 30% of the time symptoms persist. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. There are 22 signs and symptoms that can result from concussions, most of us are only aware on average of about 5 or 6.  

Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport, such as football, rugby, soccer. But every concussion injures your brain to some extent. The brain needs time to rest and heal properly. Most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild (mTBI), and people usually recover fully.  

If you are involved in a contact sport it is important to get a baseline test done. Baseline concussion tests give health care professionals a starting point should you sustain a concussion during your season. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function (including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems), as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms. Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a health care professional during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.

Baseline tests consist of a series of clinically validated musculoskeletal, vestibular, balance, proprioceptive and cognitive protocols including; SCAT3, ImPACT and BESS standardized tests. These tests give us valuable objective data so that in the event of a concussion, we know what normal was for the athlete and this helps us in making informed decisions about an individualized treatment path and when to determine the athlete is ready to return to school or sport. 


Think of your brain as you would another body part that you may injure, knee, back, shoulder. Each body part injured needs treatment. The brain needs to be rehabilitated too. Studies show that within an 8 week vestibular and cervical spine rehabilitation program, athletes with symptoms of headache, dizziness and neck pain have a 66% higher rate of return to sport/school (Orthopaedic Division Review-Vol.27 No.2). Certified Athletic Therapists and Physiotherapists are trained to take the patient through a series of validated treatment protocols depending on the flagged areas after a concussion. We look at all the systems that the brain controls and what it is affected by; the neck (cervicogenic), the vestibular system, balance, memory and the oculormotor system (eyes). We are able to focus our treatment on the specific area that is causing your symptoms. For example if we flag an area through your baseline test redone, and through our series of assessment processes with your eyes, we essentially take your eyes to the gym and strengthen them back up. Until all the systems are functioning properly together will you be able to return to your daily life, work, school and play at 100%. 

Here are a few excellent resources online for more detailed concussion information.


Kara Creed is a Certified Athletic Therapist and Nancy Botting is a Sport Physiotherapist. Both are from Physical Edge Physiotherapy - a multidisciplinary sort medicine clinic in Oakville , Ontario.