August 26, 2010
On September 10 and 12th two ProTour races will be held in Quebec City and Montreal. (www.protourquebecmontreal.com) The circuits, which wind through the city centres are hilly and hard. In 1974 the World Championships were held in Montreal on roughly the same 12 km circuit which we will race on in a few weeks. The major difficulty on the course is the climb up Mont Royal– a tough ascent which shadows the city centre. We will climb it 16 times.
In 1974 Eddy Merckx dominated and won the race. The World title was the final race he needed to achieve the triple crown of cycling: victories in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and World Championships. In 1976 the same course was used for the Olympic Road Race and then through the late 80′s and early 90′s Montreal held a yearly pro men’s World Cup. Through the 90′s, and until last year, the city hosted the Women’s World Cup on the Mont Royal circuit.
As I was looking through the piles of photos my father has from a lifetime in cycling I found a few he and a friend, Gil Smith, took at the Worlds in Montreal. Some of the pictures are from the track events and some are from the road race.
August 23, 2010
In the moment everything seems lost. I skidded along the ground, sliding on the tarmac as if I were seated on a sled but with only a thin layer of Lycra between skin and rock. The initial impact was brusque and jarring — similar to what a driver feels when rear-ended by another car. Then came the impacts every professional rider expects: Riders crashed into me from behind, colliding with my torso as if a thug was kicking it with fury. The riders whom I had crashed into, who were on the tarmac before me, would have felt the same impact.
For months, we had all trained meticulously, sacrificed, dieted and focused to be ready. A slick road, a nervous rider, a careless maneuver can end a dozen riders’ goals. Seeing riders fall in front of me, I feared it could be over. The fear is momentary.
On the ground, I feel the burn of torn skin. But before I look at the damage my body has sustained, I am looking for my bike. I get up, realize it is broken, look for the mechanic who is running towards me with my spare bike, adjust my torn jersey and prepare to climb back on. A dozen riders around me do the same.
The team cars have stopped in the middle of the road, unable to pass due to the crash, as the directors and mechanics look through the bodies and bikes to find their riders. A few lay on the ground holding their arms or shoulders while bleeding profusely. Their faces grimace with pain. From past experience I know that I will see most of them back in the peloton in half an hour. Riders will continue with broken, pummeled, bleeding bodies. Their will is too formidable to give. The sacrifice to prepare for the race has been too concentrated to resign to the pain of injury.
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August 16, 2010
Several people have asked me about cycling in Girona, Spain. Below is a travel article I wrote for Canadian Cycling Magazine. I have also included some photos which my wife, Dede Barry, and friend, Jordi Cantal, took.