Canadian Cyclist


April 27/10 7:53 am - Road Racing in Ontario - It Needs Your Support

Posted by Editoress on 04/27/10

Editorial opinion


To Whom It May Concern:

I have stewed over writing some sort of comment about the TJ Crit. What follows is are some of my thoughts. Perhaps you can publish some sort of comment with some editing on what I am trying to say. I love the sport of road racing. It has been the most humbling and rewarding sport I have challenged.

I am not one for Blogging nor usually writing on your forum (though I have tried a couple of times with little luck). It is just that I think there is something happening to road racing and it hurts to watch.

On Sunday, April 25, 2010, a criterium was held in Cobourg called the Tom Jehlicka Memorial Criterium. I would like to provide a brief bio for background. Tom was a personal friend and died quickly (19 months) due to complications with MS. What Tom was best at, in my opinion, was his bicycle advocacy. The crit is named after him with that characteristic in mind.

Tom was able to race at the highest levels and was the type of person that could rise to the level of competition he faced. It is a special athlete that can continue to excel as the competition heightens. However, where he shone most was with his ability to foster cycling as a sport or a pastime. It did not matter to him what you rode or how you rode, but if you wanted to learn, he could take the time to help. He did this with many things, but we are talking bicycle racing.

With fostering the sport of road racing in mind, Noel Savage and I dubbed the crit after Tom. ProRace from Peterborough has been putting on different events for a few years now. As an aging athlete looking for more events, I really appreciate what they are doing. The crit is there to fill a spot on the local calendar. It is only an hour from the DVP on the 401 to the Cobourg exit. So accessibility to the GTA racer/rider market is ready made.

How come racers in the GTA will travel west for a couple of hours to London, but when it comes to Eastern Ontario, they seem to get overwhelmed with the distance? Is it because the street lights stop at the east end of Oshawa? All I know is that some of Canada’s top cyclists come from Ontario. However, there are many more that need events like the TJ Crit to develop. I saw the same thing last year with Willy Coyle’s amazing Welland/St. Catherine’s evening crit. The lack of participants was just terribly sad.

With the rising costs facing promoters, organizers and the OCA, road races are soon to be extinct. There are fewer events every year. With the lack of turn out at the crit this weekend, it will not be a hard decision to agree with when it is not held anymore. I travel to lots of races. There are some courses that I do not like in Ontario for personal reasons. However, the Cobourg crit circuit used for the TJ Crit is a rare gem. It perfect for developing racers.

This course is able to give riders of all calibre what they need. A racer can pedal around each corner. The pavement surface, though aging, is good. There is plenty of FREE parking. My point is, part of the sport’s advocacy begins with supporting events as an athlete. As racers in Ontario, we do not have the European luxury of a fully slated calendar of events, nor do we have the balmy weather of the warmer climates like North/South Carolina. We also require some travel time.

I have ridden excellent crit events over the years. There is the Preston Street Crit in Ottawa, The Windsor Via D’Italia (Windsor Star), The Hamilton SR and crit, The Waterloo Crit, The Multi-Laser Grand Prix in Gananoque with its 8-corner crit and the Aztec Grand Prix in Kingston with its Queen’s University circuit. I have to take my helmet off to the organizers for their commitment to fostering the sport of road racing.

I just wish that racers in Ontario would reciprocate the efforts of the organizers by making a better commitment to racing more than just O-Cup events. These small events need racers and racers need the events. Racing is more than just picking and choosing low hanging fruit. It is very important in any racer’s development, regardless of age, to be a student of the sport. This an intricate sport and not for the faint of heart. It needs support from the within the cycling community if is going to survive in this one sport country. ( I do not have to tell you what time of year it is either!)

Thanks in advance for your time and cooperation.

Your truly,

Greg Cushing


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