Smart Athlete Train With Peter

5 Ways to Improve your Race the Weekend Before Paris to Ancaster

With Ontario’s Perennial spring classic, Paris to Ancaster, only a few days away the excitement is extremely high.

Twitter and Facebook groups are busy with questions and answers and training rides are being done in hopes of mimicking the demands of the race.

5 of the most common suggestions I make to help clients avoid the common mistakes with Paris to Ancaster are below. I hope they help your last prep rides this weekend and your race next weekend.

1) Stop thinking about the Distance : Match the Terrain & Skill Demands

PICT0088    paris to ancaster w. rupel cheeering

The race is won on a pot holed start, a loose gravel uphill (often with running), 4-5 x 5-10min hard efforts (often through Forest trail as on left above) and accelerations out of forest/paths. If you can get through all that then you have the infamous Mud Shoots and the final ‘Martin Rd’ Climb (video) (strava) to deal with. The endurance is important but your technical skills,  ability to stand up, choose a line and ability to shift are going to be much more helpful then riding exactly 70km this weekend. Focus on the terrain.

2) Remember to Enjoy your training and Race Day – Smile – Recruit Friends 

Mitch and Peter post paris to cancaster 2014 - mitch hip - head shot

It is cliche but RELAX and ENJOY. You will survive and you will have a smile at the end and some great stories. The reason to race is to push yourself to new limits and situations AND MOST IMPORTANT to make great friends to share the journey with. I always look forward to chatting with old friends and making new friends at races. The shared experiences are something we will chat (and exaggerate about) for years.

3) Intensity – Experience the race before you get there. 


Matt F. is in full race mode on Martin Rd. at the end of a great Paris to Ancaster effort. You can see he is standing and emptying all his energy at the end of the race. This took much practice on his race bike being ridden on similar hilly, gravel terrain. Find a big hill and ride up it, maybe find a few and put one or two at the end of your ride this weekend. Push to that ‘race pace’ where you are noticing your breathing and ride there for a while (5+min) … remind yourself that it is ok to be in a bit of discomfort and try to relax while pedaling hard/going quickly. Experience the race before you get there.

4) Prepare your Race bike for the race NOW – and ride it on similar terrain this weekend. No changes next week

slash and super fly washing pre paris to ancaster (1)

I always shudder when changes are made to the race schedule or bikes in the weeks before a race. Set up your race bike as if the race was this weekend and use all your gear, fueling, preparation in that key workout/ride. This is so big for confidence and also greatly reduces the chance of something small and silly ruining your first race. Worn pedals, loose bolts, leaking tires, seized cranks, slipping bars/posts, loosening cranks, broken chains and faulty tools are among most common ‘silly’ little things that stop us from JUST PEDALING on race day.

5) Dismounts and Mounts – Keep Moving Forward. 


I am pretty (really) crazy about mountsbike carry-remount for all my athletes. While the importance in many races is minimal if any, there seems to always be those few critical moments after a crash, or small mistake/’dab’ where our ability to keep moving forward off-bike or transition between on/off bike becomes critical to finishing well or at all. For many P2A athletes that first right hand turn off the rail trail will require a run-up … how fast you get off your bike, grab that top-tube and then at the top remount can make the difference between making a group that will carry you to a personal best finish or fighting in no-man’s land all day. Some of the forest trails are hectic and brief un-clipping or mount/remounts are required to keep moving forward. For some of us that final climb on Martin Rd. will be too much and so these ‘off-bike’ skills are important to maximizing our efficiency.   ( check out these videos to learn about mount and dismount )

Thanks for Reading


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