Quebec City: Up Close & Personal
Our 5th installment of the Team RACE taking on Quebec City with the pros was once again… special. It was undoubtedly the magic that transcends from wearing of the club kit on race day that makes it all happen.
Thursday morning and afternoon was without the regular activity of riding to Toronto Island Airport and Quebec City airport to downtown due to the foul weather. We took our rooms in an old inn, inside the protected walls of Old Quebec, parked our gear and took to the town. Thursday afternoon in QC the weather cleared and as one by one we all assembled in the old city things started to shape up. We made out way to the Grand Allez to cheer the sprint competition riders.
The energy mounted. Notable pros strolled the sidewalks, notably Chris Horner. (yeah we got that picture)
The evening wound down in one of our favourite dining spots on Rue Ste Jean called Hobbit Bistro- no doubt a few remember this place from previous years. We strolled the streets had a night cap at a cigar lounge and called it a day.
Friday. Race Day. 8am: Team RACE does its traditional laps around the course to inspect the new course and take note of good vantage points for the race. Lap 1 completed, plenty of cheers and photos from onlookers of our squad. Lap 2 detoured around start finish as the media was assembling for the riders. Lap 3, a few minor detours, more photos but nothing out of the ordinary. As we approach the start line the security guards allow us to enter the corral of pro riders as they are being introduced and tv interviews are happening. Yes Team RACE is in the mix. We are allowed to ride straight through the media gauntlet without issue… that just happened!
We then proceed to Maguire Avenue and enjoy a morning coffee and enter a new Expo area set up with an emcee, large screen to show the race and a variety of booths for local vendors. It’s not long that we quickly become celebrities and Jeff Wachman is on the microphone letting everyone know who we are and what we do at Team RACE, the crowd cheers and embraces us all. A quick back rub and the pros have already completed two laps.
With a little reservation, but knowing full well that the peloton has just gone by and they are nearing the other side of the course, we decide to quickly descent the hill (yeah it was part of the course) and drop down by the riverfront. No sooner we stop at the bottom and comment of how easy security is being, does a police drive right up to us and say that that was a no no, and to please stay off course.
The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying espressos, beer, fine food and watching a great road race. Long time Tour for Kids supporter and kick-ass chick Hannah Parish was spotted and we welcomed her to our entourage. With three laps to go we decided to make our way to the VIP area because we didn’t have passes, but we did have our Team RACE kit on (Do you know who we think we are?). We rode in formation towards the guarded entrance and of course the security greeted and welcomed us- they are so nice!
The bike security person insisted that we park our bikes in the special guarded corral, which we did. It was then time to get to experience the VIP. Chatted with Louis Garneau and his senior staff, and wouldn’t you know it, trays of beer started to appear before us. Camera crews wanted our kit as background shots to broadcast interview and many new TR prospects were met. We watched the dramatic race ending with a notable sprint finish by Simon Gerrans from our front row seat 10m from the finish line. Wow! We joked, that the only thing we needed now was photos with the podium girls and this was a great day. Oh and 10minutes later that happened.
A fabulous diner at Le Cercle and as the day or should i say the next morning wound down sometime around 2am- we needed to be ready for our great ride Saturday around the Isle d’Orleans
And what a great ride it was. We rode over the bridge and on the island. It was as if time had stood still. It was incredible, the rolling hills, the St. Lawrence, Mtn St. Anne in the distance, apple picking and Tom Bollum hammering the pace at the front. We managed to cool the pace with a stop for hot chocolate and espressos at a quaint art gallery and cafe, and yes, we had to take off our cycling shoes to enter this house.
We rounded the island and Jeff Wachman convinced us all we had to stop at this pizza joint. Well they don’t make or sell pizza there you have to order in. Its like that hotel which has no beds. LOL. OK, yes the pizza we did order was good and so was the poutine.
OK i can’t remember much more that, but i know I had to sleep.
And yeah, to sum up Quebec City is awesome- we have loads of laughs, great riding, experience European like atmosphere and best of all we’re with our fab friends. Join us next year!