Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau

With the 2012 Olympics just around the corner the ITT and road races held this past weekend in Gatineau QC were both important and well attended by the elite women’s field. Greenedge, Tibco, Specialized-lululemon and many other teams sent their best talent with an eye on gaining important qualification points. While the World Championships are hard to get into, the Olympics are even harder as the teams are very small. Canada has more riders than we can send who could do very well in the road events, in fact I don’t think there has ever been so deep a pool of exceptional cycling talent in Canada.

I hopped in my camper on Thursday to make the trip to Bourget where my friend Jackie has made her driveway available for me to camp whenever I’m out that way. We didn’t get to spend much time together as she was headed back to TO for much of the weekend but it was still great to see her. My Friday plans included spending the morning with Dr. Vanagon (Frank Condelli) for Babe’s annual check-up and then spend the afternoon covering the team presentation.

I’m happy to report that Babe’s in good health although her parking brake cables are tired and old and needed replacing. There wasn’t time to fit that in on Friday though, Frank gave the undercarriage a good once-over and tightened up the front hubs. The rest was all small tweaks and away we went. The team presentation was good and it was nice to catch up with some friends there as well as getting photos and video interviews. Here’s the shot of all of the cyclists present (not all who raced, just all who made it to the event).

The elite women’s field at the team presentation

Friday evening was quite, the usual post-event photo and video processing and then early to bed. the Chrono Gatineau started early the next day and I wanted to be sure to get there with time to spare. The morning was bright and clear, no wind… a perfect day for a time trial. On the road a little after 6, parked well before 8 and lots of time to get ready. Trying to organize moto support is always a challenge and I think the organizers have so many things they need to take care of that it’s not near the top of their list. As the moto has to stay behind in a time trial I wasn’t too concerned about it not working out. I did have my helmet handy though and left in the moto area. Unfortunately I left it there at the end of the day too… a long hot day with things still to do after the race had me distracted and I assumed it was gone.

The racing action during the day was intense. And impressive. From the Taiwanese team who race on their road bikes to the exceptional talent of top riders like Stevens, Hughes, Cooke and others it was an exceptional race. The post race interview with Clara Hughes was fun, she had some great comments to share including her thoughts on the corner she crashed in last year. This is what I put together and published to youtube (spoiler alert: it also includes comments after the road race):

Some of the galleries:

It took a while to process all the photos and put together galleries for the different outlets I was supplying images to. When I was finally done and settled in, the next thing I recall is the sound of birds waking me in the morning. I took my time, made coffee, and then went back out to Frank and Rita’s place… Frank sent me an email to say he was available Sun. AM so he could work on the parking brakes. As there was no racing action I needed to cover this was a great opportunity and I jumped at the chance.

Frank was a little stiff that morning (ask him if you want details) but it was great to get together and spend a little time making the bus even more road worthy. Of course any job on a 30 year old vehicle is bound to throw a curve… in this case it was a nut on the rear passenger side hub that was “a little uncooperative”. Nothing a saw, blow torch, drill and hammer couldn’t take care of (plus close to an hour and lots of “physio”). It did come off though, and it was worth the effort as the amount of grease that went in that hub was more than expected. Way more!

The other surprise was in the brake springs on the other side… it was hard to adjust the shoes and then it became a challenge to see how to pop out the springs that were installed backwards without taking the whole assemble apart. Yes, of course Frank found a way. When all was said and done, we sat down to enjoy a cold beer.

So now my camper is that much closer to being ready, the only thing left is getting the injectors cleaned and that should happen early next week.

So much for Sunday! The evening was relaxing, the afternoon was just driving around the countryside, and the sleep was great. Next up was the road race on Monday.

Rather than write about it, here are a few photos. It was an awesome day of racing and I very much enjoyed covering it.

Here are the galleries that went up online:

When the race was done, I hoped into my camper and headed home. Lots of traffic and the dreaded “Road Work” so it took a while. I did have a fun moment though… stuck in a slowdown, a CRV pulled up beside me and the passenger leaned out to ask “do you by any chance have rolling papers?”. I laughed at the delightful stereotype and sadly had to tell her the bus was out of stock at the moment.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.