I think of myself as down with it; although, by the sheer fact I say that, it clearly indicates I’m not.
I had never heard of the Raid Velo Mag point-to-point from Quebec City to Mont Ste. Anne (MSA) until last week when Rob asked me if I wanted to race on the weekend. But, it’s been running for years, and hosts several hundred riders.
Looking at their website, my expectations were low, but I registered because I was overdue for a road trip and I thought it a good opportunity to shake down my new Niner Jet 9 before my ultimate goal of the season: Crank the Shield (mid-September).
The drive to QC from Ottawa was epic. Tricia Spooner (team Stevens) drove most of the way and she is well known for a heavy foot but it still took us nearly 9 hours. Oddly enough, I’ve driven back from MSA in a terrible snowstorm with local DH’r “Karl” (independent, but frequents Phat Moose) and have done it faster than that, but traffic was just shocking.
I started to think this race was a pretty big deal (by my standards) when race kit pick up was at the posh and historic Chateau Frontenac in the centre of old Quebec City. I hadn’t been to old Quebec City since I was a kid and it completely floored me what an amazing treasure it is. To quote Imad (team Kunstadt), “It’s Europe man!”
They shut down the streets for the start of the race and guided us out of town at a neutral 20km/h. Two prophetic statements were uttered during this:
Rob: “This is the sketchiest group ride I’ve ever been in”
Tricia: “Lousy mountain bikers do not know how to ride in a pack”
….so true! I hit the pavement 5 km in with a lapse in judgment but was able to gather my things and join in again. It was sadistically amusing to watch my watter bottles roll through the group causing mayhem but thankfully, no carnage.
When things got started off road I must say I was in absolute heaven. The Jet 9 just felt so bloody good and throughout the ride worked flawlessly (kudos to Brad at Tall Tree for a perfect build). It was my first ride on that bike so there was some nervousness. (I rode it again last night at Fortune and I’m sad to say that I still find the course too rough for my old bones)
The race is hard enough and it has something for everyone… climbing, single/double track, both smooth and hectic down hills, and cold river crossings to run though. There are also some awesome sandy hills to run up! I couldn’t help but think of those old stair master commercials during the TDF. (“It’s like running in sand!” ….but wait a second …running in sand sucks!? WTF? …this does not make me want to buy this product!)
Only regret, I saw Neil (currently Team Tall Tree) sitting in the dirt trying to fix a flat tire and I didn’t stop to help. My thought was “he’s a mechanic, I’m a programmer …what could I do?” …However, turns out he needed supplies which I never ended up having to use. He certainly stomped his superiority on me an hour later when he caught up and effortlessly pedalled up a nasty climb that I (and all the guys with me) had resorted to the death march of shame.
Final thoughts ….Yes, I’ll do it again and would recommend it for sure.
Next up is this weekend where I’ll be doing something COMPLETELY different …the 1/2 iron man on the canal. The swim is a write off (and hopefully I fend off e-coli) but I will attempt to complete the 90km bike ride at an average of 40km/h. Yes! I’m putting it out there for incentive and potential humiliation. Hopefully by meeting this goal I will partially remove the shame I’ve brought upon myself by getting dropped at the Grand Prix and letting down Matt and team, sponsors, and fans.