It was to be my third Tour de l'Ile, and my first with Sheryl. I was very excited about being able to share this experience with her. We would have a good ride together, taking it easy as we went along. She would make the supreme effort near the end, climbing up the killer hill on St. Denis at Sherbrooke, but she would make it to the end.
As I had done the year before, I presented myself at the offices of Vélo-Québec on the very first day of registration. That, combined with the privilege of registering a few days early as a member, got us an early morning departure, about 08:30. Our packages arrived, as before, about a week beforehand.
The venue had changed. Instead of Park Avenue and Jeanne Mance Park, the starting line was on St. Lawrence at Jarry, near Jarry Park. We drove east of the route, crossing it on the elevated Metropolitain, and were able to find street parking a dozen or so blocks to the east of Jarry Park.
We unpacked our bikes, loaded our gear, and got ourselves set to begin riding. Sheryl was still riding her red racing bike, with thin tires, and could not carry much. I packed our food and water and other take-alongs in my saddlebags. We locked the car and rode west along Jean-Talon to St. Lawrence.
Our early departure resulted in our not having to wait very long at all, perhaps half an hour. Then we were through the 'nozzle', under the big tent, and on our way. At first, Sheryl was a bit ill-at-ease riding in such a throng of cyclist, all going at different speeds. She continued to be amazed at the endless stream of volunteers yelling "Lâche pas!" and she was all eyes for the little details of the organization of the event. I was content just to be riding with her.
It was the year of the western circuit of the Tour, my second time heading west, and I found many of the sections to be quite familiar. For Sheryl, of course, all her surroundings must have been totally new and strange.
We headed up St. Lawrence to catch Henri Bourassa near the Back River. Then we followed Henri Bourassa west, through the big underpass of Hwy 15 and the commuter rail, to Marcel Laurin. We turned left onto Marcel Laurin and followed it down past the Canadair (Bombardier) plant to Thimens, where we turned right. All of these streets were wide, multi-laned urban boulevards, totally closed to traffic. Cyclists had lots of room as we spread out over the often six lanes. The route was lined with spectators, with volunteers manning the steel gates at every cross street.
The first relais was at a large park on part of the old Cartierville airfield. Although neither of us were feeling at all weary, we decided to stop anyway, just so Sheryl could get a quick look-see. We did not stay long.
Thimens brought us once again north to Henri-Bourassa, along a large curve past light industrial parks. It was a route I had travelled in the late 80s when cycling to retrieve my Dodge Caravan when it was left of service. Henri-Bourassa west brought us to Hymus Boulevard, and then we rode along the south service road of Hwy 40 until well past Sources Road. Only when nearly to St. John's Road did we turn south and, through a series of twists and turns across suburbia, reach Park Valois.
Sheryl had found riding through the industrial parks to be less than interesting, but she was thrilled at hour people watched us from their front lawns as we rode through suburbia. It was if every house was having a lawn party. Many had built statues and other displays to celebrate the cyclists. Some displays and decorations were quite original!
We did not stop at relais #2, as we had a good pace and were not tired yet. We made the split-second (and irreversible) decision, and were quickly shunted along the by-pass. I caught only glimpses of the relais as I went by.
We were out on Cardinal, heading east alongside the airport. Then we entered the same complicated spaghetti of tiny streets and quick turns I had encountered the year before, which would bring us over the highway and to the lakeshore. It seemed the very same outdoor carpeting was laid over the very same railroad tracks as I had remembered. We descended 55th Avenue and came out on Lakeshore Road just in time for relais #3 at Stoney Point Park. I had suggested to Sheryl that this be a good place to stop for lunch, as we could bask right by the water. We found an open patch of green close to the shore and laid ourselves and our bikes down. After a cooling off period, and a short trek for refreshments, we unpacked our lunches from my saddlebags and relaxed.
|Roger at Stoney Point Relais|
|Sheryl at Stoney Point Relais|
|Tour 95: To Relais #4 in LaSalle|
The ride east from Stoney Point was uneventful. We rode quietly along with the throng, first along St. Joseph Boulevard through Old Lachine, and then along LaSalle Boulevard by the river.
We did not stop at the fourth relais, which was set up in the park near the Lachine Rapids. The distance was beginning to be felt by Sheryl, and so she steeled herself to the purpose of pedaling onward.
When we got to the Dorval line, we were shunted inland along a complicated series of streets until we finally got to the Point St. Charles, which was familiar to me from my previous Tour in this direction. We passed under the Champlain Bridge approach and came down Butler to Wellington, where the fifth and last relais was set up in Marguerite Bourgeoys Park.
We stopped at the relais so that Sheryl could catch her breath. Tired as she was, I knew the worst was yet to come, as we would have to climb back up from the waterfront to the top of the Island at Jarry Park.
|Parc Margeurite Bourgeoys|
|Approach to Park Along Wellington||The Park in a Quieter Time|
As it had been on my first ride this way, this last relais was jam packed with people. One could hardly move. Still, we managed to find a tree to lean up against and enjoyed a few minutes rest.
Sheryl was amazed by the festival of well-wishers and sight-seers, sitting in their lawn chairs and on balconies, with their beers in hand, to cheer us on as we made our way through the narrow streets of Point St. Charles. The streets were tiny and narrow and bounded on both sides by three story houses built right to the sidewalk. All the houses were gaily decorated for the Tour. It lightened Sheryl's spirits.
We came out of the residential section onto Wellington, and then shunted along Bridge and Mill Streets until we came out at the Old Port. We rode up McGill Street, then east along a bit of Notre Dame, through Old Montreal. We descended the hill on St. Lawrence, and then faced our first climb, up through Chinatown. When we reached Ste. Catherine, we headed east to Berri, chosen as the route north because it allowed the cyclists to pass underneath Sherbrooke Street without having to close it.
I approached the hill at Berri in my usual way, gearing down to my easiest gear and slowly creeping up the hill like a truck. Sheryl, on the other hand, attacked the hill at full speed. Her racing bike had none of the gears needed to face such a hill, and, not yet having adopted my technique, was used to sprinting over tiny hills. I watched her ahead, huffing and puffing. She reached the top before me, but was totally winded and breathing very heavily. She may have considered stopping right there, had we not been so close to finishing.
After a few minutes, Sheryl got her breath back and we continued. Guided westward a bit, we were then turned up St. Denis as far as St. Joseph, and then westward a bit more, to climb St. Urbain Street. It was an easy climb for me, but I could tell it was a long and grueling one for Sheryl. I rode right by the triplex where I had lived in the late 70s and early 80s.
At the top of St. Urbain, at Jean Talon, we were guided west to just before the CP rail underpass, and came around into Jarry Park from behind.
Sheryl was ready to relax. We got our certificates. We got our free milk and cheese. Then we sat down in the crowd to listen to the live music which was provided for us. After only a few minutes rest, Sheryl felt completely recovered from her long, arduous climb.
We left after about an hour, to thread our way carefully eastward through the traffic on Jean-Talon, to recover our car.
It had been a good day!
I thank the Lord for having given Sheryl the opportunity to enjoy the Tour experience with me, and for giving us the ability and for keeping us safe.Top