Two Big Bicycle Events Coming to Cobourg

Tonight, Cobourg Council is being asked to approve two events this summer that will bring visitors to Town – on or with their bicycles.  The Cobourg Gran Prix will be in summer and will be an event in the Criterium series (more below) and will happen downtown in a circuit around downtown streets with around 150 participants.  The Great Waterfront Trail Adventure will be on Sunday July 29 with about 150 participants who will stop in Cobourg as part of a ride from Ajax to the Quebec border.  This group will mostly camp overnight in tents in Victoria Park. Both events are up for approval at the Council meeting tonight.  By coincidence, also up for approval is the rental of space at the former Works Garage to the Cycle Transitions community group.

Cobourg Gran Prix

A Criterium Race
A Criterium Race

The date originally requested was May 26 but the Town favours August 11 or 12 – but whatever date is finally selected the plan is to have cyclists race several laps around a circuit of about 1km in length.  The original request was for College, Chapel, Walton and King but the Town offers an alternative using King, Third, Albert and Church streets – see maps below.

This would be a standalone event but would be a part of the Ontario Criterium O-Cup Series which spans across the province, starting in Ottawa and finishing in Windsor.  These races are different because they are shorter so it’s intense and things like cornering technique matter more.  The Cobourg event is being organized by Gregory Rawson of Performance Driven Events.

Route Maps

Gran Prix preferred route
Gran Prix preferred route


Alternative Route
Alternative Route

Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA)

This event is an annual multi day cycling tour with the purpose of promoting the Waterfront Trail and showcase the communities along the route.  In 2018, approximately 155 participants (including support staff) will ride from Ajax to the Quebec border between July 29 and August 3. Cobourg will be the first planned overnight stop on the 2018 GWTA. The Town of Cobourg hosted this same event in Victoria Park in 2010 with participants ranking it their number 1 stop due to the close proximity to a wide variety of local restaurants and things to do.

The majority of the 155 participants (including support staff) choose to camp while approximately 40 choose to stay in local hotels. Space is required for approximately 80 tents in Victoria Park.

According to Jackie Chapman Davis, Cobourg’s Community Events Coordinator:

In 2010, tents were placed north west of the bandshell which did not prove to be a problem with the neighbouring communities and allowed easier access to the showers and washrooms at the Centennial Pool building and the Beach Hut. Security will be required overnight at the cost of the group. The tour is accompanied on the GWTA by a camping outfitter, Comfy Campers who provide a camping service for approximately 45 tents – these tents will be erected by Comfy Campers staff before the cyclists arrive – the remaining tents will be erected by riders once they have arrived in our designated camping area. They will require a secure area for their bicycles to be stored overnight which would be at the groups cost. Cobourg Police Service is willing and has the space to store the bikes overnight.

There will be no amplified noise at any point during the event, riders are a very quiet group and most have retired for the evening by 9:00 p.m. In 2010, riders ate in the local restaurants for dinner and the Lions put on a breakfast for all riders before they departed the next morning. The GWTA will work with community groups to work out the same sort of arrangements for 2018. All riders will be gone from the area by 8:30 a.m. at the very latest. Many restaurants and pubs in the downtown offered deals and saw a lot of business as part of the event. We will work with the current businesses downtown to offer up some fun for those that will be in the downtown area that evening. A site visit will be scheduled with organizers in the spring.

The cyclists will be in Cobourg from Sunday, July 29, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. until Monday, July 30, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.  Looks like a good event.

Cycle Transitions

This is a community non-profit group who assists people with the bikes – assisting with do it yourself repairs, providing education on bikes and generally supportive of the cycling community.  They were renting a space at Building 13 in Northam Industrial park (on D’Arcy Street) but had to move when the building was selected for the Venture 13 project.  The Town will rent them space in the former Works Garage on King Street West for the same rent as their previous space – $500 per month.

Update – 7:00 p.m., 26 February

Both Cycling events were approved by Council with little debate.  The agreement with Cycle Transitions was also approved.


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29 March 2018 3:47 pm

They do realize that people do have to live and work in this town?

Where is the benefit for those of us who do not rely on the tourists?

Will we be compensated?

Ron Reyns
Reply to  Dice
29 March 2018 9:29 pm

Why not set up the 2 round abouts that they have in Cobourg by the CCC. distance would be about the same and out of the way from majority of businesses. Factory workers could still gain access via division or Elgin St.

Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf
28 February 2018 8:24 am

The Cobourg Police Service is excited to be part of this great event. I too have seen many of these events in Cities much larger than Cobourg, as well as similar size Towns. We will work to make this a success!

Reply to  Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf
28 February 2018 8:29 am

Great to hear, and thanks for being so positive in helping to make this event a success.

Wally Keeler
27 February 2018 10:21 am

What the race looks like from inside, Inside the race

What to listen to while watching the race; Queen: I Want To Ride My Bicycle

26 February 2018 12:50 pm

Have been to many cycle races in Europe and they run through village & town centres, much larger than Cobourg, which is closed to vehicular traffic.
Brings out lots of pedestrians who then shop, go to restaurants….use hotels, etc.
The town could have the tourism office coordinate other activities also.
Would be really happy with either route. A great event.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Pierre
26 February 2018 2:48 pm

Hi Pierre,

Thank you for the positive feedback. Speaking to your point about a positive economic impact, I completed a federal TREIM (a tourism impact simulator) and it has suggested that this event would bring over $20,000 of tourism review to the Town of Cobourg.

Fact Checker
Reply to  Gregory Rawson
26 February 2018 4:01 pm

The TREIM is an economic model that has never been proven against actual measurement. The model requires input data which is based on estimates. The closer the estimate is to reality the better the prediction. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.
Who exactly receives the estimated $20K tourist revenue (review??). How much of this goes to the Town to cover the cost of police, works dept and other Town staff.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Fact Checker
26 February 2018 5:08 pm

Great questions and I completely agree with you. I often feel that the projected amount of economic generation is over rated. I like to use a simpler model. 200 people will attending the race, half of which will stay over in hotels (this event is part of a provincial series so it’s safe to assume that riders from KW/London/GTA/Ottawa will attend), average price of a hotel is $100, the riders traditionally bring their family’s which eat in town during the race. We can all do the math based on those general numbers.

Regarding your point about covering costs of police etc. We (the organizers) pay for all costs associated with the event including police, EMS, road closure/permits, officials, fencing, timing, portable washrooms and traffic control barriers. There is no cost to the town or the tax payers.

If it helps, I’m also a new resident to Cobourg and I pay my property taxes just like everyone else 🙂

Fact Checker
Reply to  Gregory Rawson
26 February 2018 6:15 pm

Hopefully the hotels and restaurants that are the main beneficiaries of the $20K (your method seems more “trustworthy” than TREIM) are giving back with some sponsorship funds.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Fact Checker
26 February 2018 7:17 pm

Any chance that you have contacts with the hotels in town? Based on my experience, it takes someone with a connection to get money out of those establishments!

Suzanne Séguin
Reply to  Gregory Rawson
27 February 2018 9:11 am

Gregory, great work bringing the Cobourg Gran Prix to town. Both events were approved last night at Council. As Community Services Coordinator on Council, I would love to meet with you to discuss any further questions you may have. You can reach me at

Reply to  Suzanne Séguin
27 February 2018 9:25 am

Suzanne, are you able to say which route was chosen?

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Gerald
27 February 2018 10:24 am

Hi Gerald,

At this point, I’m under the impression that we should be able to make the first option work. The second option isn’t viable as it would require the closure of two of the main emergency access routes. I’ve also been given the opportunity to meet with the Cobourg Police Dept. to review other possible routes here in town. One we have all agreed on the course, I’ll be contact residents directly to start the dialog around the event and access issues etc.

Reply to  Gregory Rawson
27 February 2018 10:27 am

Thank you, Gregory.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Gerald
27 February 2018 12:03 pm

hi Gerald,

FYI, Council has a youtube video of each of their meetings if you would like more information on the discussion. However, Council did not appear to discuss the matter at all, just voted on it. It appears that logistics including the race course have been handed over to staff.

If commercial downtown streets are involved please make sure the downtown businesses are consulted as well as their organization, the DBIA.

Sunday morning racing would seem ideal. May good weather align with your plans.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Suzanne Séguin
27 February 2018 10:21 am

Suzanne, thank you for your support in making this event happen in 2018! I can’t wait to showcase Cobourg and all that it has to offer. I’ll be reaching out to you today to plot out our next steps.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Gregory Rawson
27 February 2018 9:42 am

I hope someone will wear a go-pro camera to record the race and upload to social media — free publicity. It works very successfully with the Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny event, with countless videos by bystanders, and one official video which has garbered more eyeballs in a month than all of the Cobourg tourist videos have in eight years of production. Invite residents to bring lots of noise-makers, flags and banners and placards for increased excitement.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Wally Keeler
27 February 2018 10:20 am

Wally, great idea! Here is some footage from an event that we ran last year in Kitchener –

You can guarantee that we’ll be doing something similar for this event in Cobourg!

Fact Checker
Reply to  Gregory Rawson
26 February 2018 4:16 pm

TREIM is a product of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and has nothing to do with the Federal government.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Fact Checker
26 February 2018 5:10 pm

Yes, you’re correct, sorry about that.

Reply to  Gregory Rawson
27 February 2018 10:23 pm

A *TOTAL* benefit of $20,000? Wow! Putting that enormous benefit into perspective, it is about $1 per resident or $2.50 per family.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Dubious
28 February 2018 10:25 am

Great point Dubious, everyone gets a free coffee or tee as a result of this event! Thank you for pointing that out!

Miriam Mutton
26 February 2018 11:39 am

Closing both King Street and Albert Street downtown at the same time and on a summer weekend?

Hopefully Council approves the original route request.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
26 February 2018 2:39 pm

… and simultaneously blocking Hwy 45 aka Division Street.

Original route works best. .

Old Sailor
Reply to  Wally Keeler
27 February 2018 8:29 am

The town should advise affected residents on a proposed cycle route and the effect on them. At first glance It seems that shutting off downtown streets is not the best course.

K. Schroeder
Reply to  Old Sailor
27 February 2018 8:57 am

I am an affected resident and think this is a great idea!!! All it needs is some planning ahead for those of us lucky enough to live down here…sure beats Rib Fest and Highland Games.

Reply to  K. Schroeder
27 February 2018 9:26 am

I live on the route also & agree it’s great news for the town.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  silverhairedsenior
27 February 2018 10:17 am

Thank you everyone for the positive feedback! I’m extremely excited to bring this event to Cobourg (my new’ish home town). We’re run a number of these events before and I can ensure that everyone who lives on the course will be part of a larger discussion surrounding the event. As mentioned in the report that went to council, we’re looking to have access to the roads for a period of six hours. That said, each race lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. We structure the schedule in a way that allows residents that live on the course to come and go with their cars during these brakes.

Gregory Rawson
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
26 February 2018 2:44 pm

Hi Miriam,

When speaking with the town of Cobourg, they did mention that King St. and Albert St. can’t be closed simultaneously due to emergency access restrictions. We’re confident that we can make the first option work. The Cobourg Police have offered their assistance when it comes to finding a route as well.