We probably would not have ridden in this last Tour had it not been for the occasion to have an outing with our friends Claudia & Gilbert. The experience of the previous year had turned Sheryl off, somewhat, to the whole Tour idea. I, too, was becoming jaded. We would end up having a good day riding with our friends. Although tiring near the end, and not keeping up with the pace that Claudia and Gilbert would have liked, Sheryl did satisfy herself that she was able ride the whole circuit without becoming exhausted. The previous year's experience had not been typical.
Somewhere during the year, during one of our get-togethers, we developed the plan with Claudia and Gilbert to ride together with them in the Tour. We each sent in our registrations and got our brown envelopes and jerseys. We had a start time of 07:30, but Claudia and Gilbert were much less strict about that than I was. I don't know what their appointed time was. "Come by early, and we'll get started".
We drove over to Claudia and Gilbert's house, which was only a couple of blocks west of the Tour route up St. Lawrence, and only about 2 km out along the route. They were ready when we got there, so we unpacked out bikes and stopped for some early morning photos before setting out.
|Sheryl with Claudia & Gilbert|
It was to be a year of the western circuit. As two years earlier, the starting line was at Jarry and St. Lawrence, next to Jarry Park. Claudia & Gilbert did not see the need to start at the official starting line, including waiting in line for ages. A block further up, their street intersected the Tour route at Henri Bourassa. That was where we would begin.
The circuit would follow almost exactly the same path as in previous years. This would be my third time along the western circuit, and I had come to know it well. We had no trouble passing the gate at head of their street, and found ourselves riding west along the wide expanse of Henri Bourassa Boulevard. At first, I tended to ride and talk with Gilbert, while Sheryl rode and talked with Claudia. They kept us at a pace which was faster than I would have chosen for myself, and probably quite a bit faster than Sheryl's natural pace. Still, if we wanted to keep talking with them, we had to keep up. (And perhaps they were already slowing down for us!)
We bypassed relais #1 and #2, keeping our pace along the well-worn route out through the industrial parks of the west island, along Henri Bourassa and Hymus, until we turned south on Sources Road. Clear of the airport, we zig-zagged through residential areas until we came out at Cardinal, which we took east, past the airport terminal.
It took another zig-zap session to get us across Hwy 20 at 55th Avenue. We rode down along the Lakeshore and into relais #3 at Stoney Point Park, where we had previously decided to stop for lunch. As in years before, we found a clear spot along the water and spread out our bikes and blanket to have a sunny picnic.
As we rode on along the long stretch of LaSalle Boulevard and the Lakeshore, Claudia and Gilbert began to lose patience with our pace, which must have been slowing gradually. Whereas before we had been riding together, now they would ride ahead until nearly out of sight, and then stop and wait for us.
We all stopped together briefly at the 5th and final relais.
The ride back up to Jarry Park was almost identical to the one Sheryl and I had done two year's earlier. Went went along the same streets of Old Montreal and Chinatown, and once again climbed up the "killer hill" at Berri. Sheryl was learning, and managed the hill much better than in previous years.
During the climb up from Lower Town, and then up St. Denis and St. Urbain, Sheryl was never fatiqued or out of wind. Our pace was just slower than Claudia and Gilbert's. At one point we lost sight of them altogether, and would not encounter them again until we rode into Jarry Park. There they were, waiting for us.
We did not stay at Jarry Park to enjoy the festivities. Claudia and Gilbert led us up through the back streets, to cross over the Metropolitain Expressway by the CP tracks, and then down into their neighbourhood. Thus, although having started a couple of kilometers past the official gate, we ended up completing the entire circuit.
Once we rested and got cleaned up, Claudia and Gilbert drove us over to a restaurant not too far away, and we had supper together to celebrate our ride.
It had been a good day!
I thank the Lord for friends like Claudia and Gilbert, and for helping Sheryl to erase the experience of the previous year.