During Toronto’s worst snow storm yet this year, we decided to launch How to Win Paris-Ancaster, our “multi-part documentary web series that showcases the adventures of three people at three different levels of cycling experience.” Some people even braved the weather on their bikes to come to the showings. I think they might be my competition, since the foot-high snow was described by Wil Mills, sadly, as “the perfect Paris-Ancaster weather.” Colour me nonplussed.
It was a whirlwind weekend with launch parties at both Jet Fuel in Toronto and Cafe Domestique in Dundas. Wil Mills, founder of Cabbagetown Cycling Club, hosted Friday’s inaugural showing at Jet Fuel to a packed crowd of cycling enthusiasts. The bundled spectators came in one-by-one to the cozy coffee shop, milling about with delicious coffee or beer, and getting ready to embrace the somewhat goofy antics that are at the heart of this series. Gauging by the laughs, it was a success.
After the showing was over, Mills had me (Lori Steuart), Jason Zhu (the series creator), and Andrew Randell (of ARCoaching) up at the front for a question and answer period. Topics covered everything from “How did you (Lori) get involved in this project?” (answer: peer pressure) to “how does one avoid having their crotch irritated by embrocation?” (answer: don’t put it there). The night wrapped up and we readied ourselves for Saturday.
Zhu describes Domestique as the “crucible” for the series. It’s no surprise, since the Krys Hines and his shop have become such a steady fixture among cyclists not just in Dundas and Hamilton, but all over Ontario. The reception of HTWPA on Saturday night perfectly reflected the feeling of community that is such a part of cycling and this series.
While the laughing points during the screenings were the same as on Friday (my “I f***ing hate this” comment at the top of Sydenham seems to be a favourite), the question and answer period had a different tone. Many of the audience members had first-hand experience with the Paris-Ancaster race, and the questions often segued into hilarious ancedotal stories about things they’d experienced at the race. I, Zhu, Anne Guzman (Registered Holistic Nutritionist), John Thorpe (co-founder of Paris-Ancaster), and Michael Egan (Associate Professor of History) tried our best to answer questions and shared some of our own stories.
The highlight of Saturday for me, though, was when Mandy Dreyer, last year’s reigning female champion of Paris-Ancaster, presented me with a winner’s jersey that she had signed. Written in permanent marker on the back of this beautiful, bright red jersey, the phrase “Keep on smiling!” peaks out above her signature, and will remind me of all the right things to do during the race – namely, have fun.
Domestique was so packed on Saturday that Hines offered to screen the videos one last night on Sunday, and Dan Yang of Louis Garneau hosted. There were a few repeat offenders who decided to come and watch the videos one last time, and the more intimate attendance featured popcorn and Belgian frites from Domestique and more enlightening nutritional tips from Guzman.
All in all, the launches this weekend really showed how much support there is for this kind of homegrown, labour-of-love project in the cycling community, and we are excited to have so many amazing people willing to help, come out, support, and watch as we take on the race this spring and do what we know best: have fun on our bikes.
Article and feature image courtesy: Lori Steuart
Links to episodes:
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: “Teaser”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 1 – “Beginnings”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 2 – “Skills”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 3 – “Guidance”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 4 – “Pressure”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 5 – “Fuel”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 6 – “Work”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 7 – “Future”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 8 – “Balance”
How To Win Paris-Ancaster: Episode 9 – “Feedback”