So I took a weekend off work, left my three rugrats with Mom and Dad, and took the Wife to Quebec for a couple of bike races. A good chance to forget the fact that J-Rod was in the process of losing the VDS I mean Vuelta (come on we all know whats important here right), and enjoy some real live bike racing.
The Wife and I knew that this experience was going to be different than when we went in 2010. That year we had a 3 month old along for the trip. Moving about on hilly bike race courses with a baby and all that comes along with them can be a bit tricky. In 2010 we found a spot we liked on the circuit and parked there for 4 and a half hours to watch all the circuits and try to keep baby happy.
Well 2012 is a new year and we were much more mobile this year. More opportunity see different parts of the course and have a more varied experience. First off though my feelings about each race.
The Wife and I love Quebec city and this is our fourth visit. We always stay every time we drive through this lovely city. Old Quebec is so beautiful and always feels like walking into Europe (as I imagine since I have never been). Small streets, cafes, cobbles, fortifications, and people speaking a different language (we are not a bi-lingual family).
The race course in Quebec as it winds its way through the old city is stunning. All up and down and twisty turny. It barely seems to have 500 metres of straight road. Almost all of this route (in the old city) is within a few hundred metres walking distance of itself as it twists and turns through the city. Great for walking about and seeing different parts of the course.
The entire old city route is lined with quaint shops and cafes. You could have a beer at dozens of restaurants and bars right along the course. Many of them close enough that you could throw beer on the riders (if you chose to commit a crime against beer by wasting it in such a fashion). We spent the day walking about the old city watching at various points, shopping, eating at cafes, it was awesome. There is even a Couche Tard (convenience store) along the route that sells beer, 650ml bottle of imported beer 5 bucks, which you are legally allowed to consume on the side walk( a novelty in North America).
I love Quebec City and its race, if I had to chose just one race to attend it would be this one!
After spending two nights in Quebec City, we drove along a VERY wind south shore to Montreal. Montreal is a beautiful city, very cosmopolitan, and definitely more bike friendly than Toronto. Copenhagen style bike lanes abound and bixi bike share bikes are everywhere. Montreal has a very busy energetic vibe, feeling young and carefree.
The race course though is quite sterile. It slams right into the Camelien-Houde and then dives down to McGill, up the polytechnic climb, and is basically a long urban street back to the climb. The Wife and I walked backward around 90 percent of the course. Chemin de la cote St. Catherine is a very nice street lined with nice houses, but it is a long curving straight stretch of road with nothing much going on. No stores, no restaurants, just houses and more houses.
We got to McGill and sat at the Feed Zone which had moved and was misplaced on the course maps. We stayed a few laps hoping to score some free swag. I got a Spidertech bottle and the wife got a RSNT one. Musettes were not to be gotten at the feed though. One had to around the corner and down at the bottom of the hill. As we had just come up the hill and still had to climb up Mont Royal we thought that entering the musette lottery would not be worth the climbing. So we left the feed and went around the back side of Mont Royal. If you have the choice I definetly recommend coming up the back side. The way the riders come up is a stiff hard little climb. The back side is a fairly gentle slope with no ramps. An from McGill you are already a third of the way up. We watched the last couple of laps up the Camelien Houde and then headed down to catch the finish, I saw nordhaugh win without knowing anything about the race situation. Only found out who won from the Jumbotron.
Long drive home with a stop to see some friends and it is 2:00 in the A.M. The Wife and I had a great trip. Now on to some Snaps.
From the sign in Quebec:
Team Canada only raced in Quebec City
Albertinas beloved Euskies:
The Spidertech Kids:
Liquigas, Peter Sagan getting huge applause, and saying that Quebec City was strange. These things happen when a native Slovakian speaker is being interviewed by a native French speaker in English.
eventual winner Simon Gerrans:
Tommy V and David Veilleux. Tommy is quite glib and got a good laugh from the crowd. Wish I understood French so I could get the joke. The crowd LOVES Tommy.
Ryder getting interviewed in English. Ryder got lots of love from the Canadian Fans!
The wife and I directly supporting the Race. We loved the Jerseys in black and wanted a nice souvenir. Jerseys are good quality Louis Garneau. Maybe I don't have enough BP experience to get confused but I kind of like the Logo.
Beautiful Scenery abounds:
Many riders who abandoned had to drop of their bikes and walk back up to the hotel. Such as this Lotto Rider.
Others such as Anthony Chartreau just went straight to the Chateau Frontenac. A sougnieur would later take the bikes down to the holding area.
I was surprised how dirty the riders got despite the completely dry conditions. Many looked exceptionally tired at the end of the proceedings.
Quebec City is beautiful at night especially when seen from across the St. Lawrence.
The Riders hitting the Camellien Houde for the first time in Montreal.
Nieve and anther Euskie Packing it in at the Feed.
And finally a couple of videos. As the race winds through the city the pace is constantly going up and down, this spot is in between the last climb and the finish. The peleton is strung out and flying!
In the second one you can barely hear my brilliant assessment of Gerrans chances ( I could not Identify the BMC rider) but from where I stood Gerro seemed to be the strongest. Sagan looked cooked.
My wife recording the peloton coming up the Camelien Houde on the second last lap.
And that was our weekend! We had a wonderful time, we love la belle provence! These races had better get renewed or we are going to be depressed. Hope you all enjoyed my report!