Monday, 2 June 2014

On a "true" Tour de l'Île

Yesterday's version of the Tour de l'Île (a.k.a. the Détour de l'Île by haters and the Festival of cyclists riding without stupid motorists by supporters) featured among other things a special 100 or 130 km version limited to "only" 2000 participants (as opposed to the 25000+ catered to by the standard event.  The 130 km version allowed the participant to truly tour the Island of Montreal as it entirely encircles the island from tip to tip.
 My parents and I met the Mole and Joey at our traditional meet up location, namely the Charlevoix Bridge before heading off in search of breakfast at the traditional Chez Cora on Stanley Street.  (Note the brightly coloured MEC Watchtower fleece jackets worn by my parents as given to them by one of their sons. (Please, no comments about the stereotypical colour choices: that was what was available at the time.))
Afterwards, we rode to the start of the Tour.  Joey and the Mole had opted for the 50 km closed street version of the Tour, whereas the parents and I were going to do the Limited Version.  Unfortunately, the limited version took place mostly on open streets and somehow it wasn't as much fun, even though the day was gorgeous with sunny skies, cool temperatures and little wind.

As I was riding along a bike path on Notre Dame in the East End  I came up behind an African-Canadian cyclist who was wearing a very bright green shirt.  I was tempted to make a comment along the lines of "You are a very visible minority!", but I thought better of it.

The Limited tour briefly joined the regular tour along Gouin Boulevard. The stretch features a large number of old folks homes and there was a large number of retirees cheering and waving us on.

The 100 km and 130 versions split at the Parc Nature Bois-de-Liesse where there was a "halte de ravitaillement".  At this point, I headed out on the 130 km version through the West Island. While rolling through Pierrefonds-Roxboro, I noticed some people manning a table with Gatorade coolers on the other side of the road.  It turns out they were city employees who had been put in charge of sating the thirst of cyclists in the Tour.  After rolling through Senneville and dodging traffic in touron-clogged Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, I turned Leonardo back towards the start.

Around Beaconsfield, a "civilian" cyclist asked me "Wasn't the Tour de l'île being held in the East End this year?"  I explained that: "Yes, the main Tour is, but that there is a 100-130 km tour for a limited number of people."  He was impressed.

A short while later,  I could see up ahead that cyclists from the 100 km version of the Tour were joining my stream (well trickle) of 130 km cyclists.  I noticed a female cyclist in yellow t-shirt on a hybrid bicycle with red pannier. This descriptor matched that of my mother.  Then a large "Santa Claus" in a dangerously drab t-shirt on a road bike with a large red pannier joined her.  My readers are likely to have formed an idea of who they were, namely my parents. The event could not have been planned and executed with any more precision.  I quickly caught up with them to their surprise and amusement. Near the Dairy Queen in Lachine, Pappy announced that he would be going straight back to my flat rather than complete the official 100 km course.  Mummy and I are made of sterner stuff and completed our respective official distances, before returning to my abode for showers.

Thinking back, while this Tour de l'Île was a true tour of the Island of Montreal and while I am pleased and proud to have done it, something was lacking.  This was largely on roads open to traffic and somehow not as much fun as the shorter but closed streets version of the Tour.  I could rarely get into the "fast cruise" zone as while I can cruise at relatively high speeds, it takes me time and distance to build up to fast cruise. Traffic and traffic signals denied me this. As well, I had ridden all or nearly all of the route before, possibly twice over on solo jaunts to the extremities of Canada's most populous island.  There was a sense of déja vu. Consequently, I am considering doing the 50 km version as a volunteer next year.

My stats for this  "true" Tour de l'Île, including the to and from the start from my flat are a biking time of 6.51.47 (excluding stops), covering 145.96 km, at an average speed of 21.2 km/h. Maximum speed of 46.5 km/h. Pappy's stats are a distance of 107 km and average speed 17.9 km/h.  Mummy's were 123 km and average of 18.5 km/h.  Joey and the Mole don't have bike computers.

Mummy writes:
What I really enjoyed, was the numbers of people outside having fun! 25 or 30 thousand people were in the Tour de l’Île. There were the old folks cheering us on along Gouin Boulevard, and people picnicking in the parks along Gouin, and others  fishing in the Rivière des Prairies.  Then so many people along the Lachine Rapids, picnicking, sunbathing, reading, surfing, and biking – hazardous for the through cyclist!  I thought I’d seen most of the inhabitants of Montreal, but there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the old port.  I had to walk my bike at times, the crowd was that dense (and the bike path not obvious).   And at the finish – Fletcher’s Field was covered with people, I assume enjoying the Tam-Tam as well as the perfect weather.

What a lot of people enjoying a perfect Sunday!


Susan Gwyn said...

I didn't find the lack of closed streets a problem. Much of it was bike path, or street with a river on the right, so check at the stop sign/red light and pedal on. Luck, or planned to be an anticlockwise tour? And there was the industrial park, empty on Sunday.

You had Ste Anne de Bellevue which we didn't.

I'd be tempted by 100 km next year, if it meant we went to the western end of the island. But if it is a clockwise tour, there will be more red lights. Well, we have a year to think about it.

Susan Gwyn said...

I found getting into the 50 km closed-road stream on Gouin Blvd a bit of a shock. Having to slow down, avoid unpredictable kids, try to asses if those two ladies chatting side by side were going to veer left before I could pass them. On the plus side, it was fun to be part of the cheerful gang. And we missed the quarry!

Margo and Chris said...

Was Hugh really wearing a "t-shit?"

Bikemoose said...

No. That was a typo that has been corrected. He was wearing a T-shirt.