CX Urbain MTL No.3
text : Eric ‘Princess’ Heiligenstein - intro/photo : Gophrette Power
C'est sur fond d’une météo froide et grise que la troisième édition duCyclo Cross Urbain de Montréal c’est déroulée. Nouvel emplacement, au parc Delorme, un peu plus loin vers l’Est que l’année précédente. L’équipe de Maglia Rosa a préparé un parcours très technique qui ne laisse à aucun moment la possibilité aux participants de se reposer. Les parties boueuses et remplies d’eau étaient pour moi des éléments esthétiques très intéressantes pour alimenter mes cadrages photographiques. Tel un peintre abstrait je me suis régalé à utiliser chaque passage de concurrent comme des pinceaux. Pour capturer l’action au plus proche et avoir le plus de détails que possible, j’ai utilisé une optique Fish-Eye sur mon X-T1. Ce qui m’a permis d’en révéler l’essentiel. Bien évidement j’ai du faire un nettoyage approfondi de mon materiel une fois rentré chez moi et de mes vêtements aussi. La prochaine fois j’utiliserais du materiel de plongé… Au niveau de la course elle-même, mon ami Eric ‘Princess’ Heiligenstein de l’équipe Bikurious Racing Collective a bien voulu se prêter au jeu pour nous raconter sa course. En voici le récit.
Like most of my mornings before a cyclocross race, I wake up groggy, turn on my coffee machine and prepare to leave in the thirty minutes after I get out of bed. Forgetting to make breakfast, or even a lunch, I grab a couple bananas and some apples to go. I was sure that there was going to be something to eat when I get there. Thinking the race was at the same spot as previous years, or somewhere near it, I try and calculate how long it'll take me to ride there. I double check online only to find out its a couple kilometers further than last years park. Great, gotta leave a bit earlier than expected to make it to the women's start. With my bib shorts already on, I slip on some jeans, strap my extra wheelset to my bag and grab my bananas. A cool, grey, windy day lays ahead of me. What was a simple path to get to the park took much longer than anticipated.
With my big brown bag and my extra set of wheels clipped on my bag, it really didn't help me cut through the wind on the way there. I arrive at one of Parc Delorme's corner, furthest corner like aways, out of breath. Running into some of the course's tape, I see some familiar pain faces already racing. Guess I missed the women's start. After a couple shouts of encouragements for my teammates, I make my way to the start finish line to get prepared and pay the racing fees. The grass was already moist, wet even. Some sections were already muddy with big puddles, meaning it'll get much worse when my race starts. Its gonna be a good day of racing.
Women's race is over, I go spread some high five love to all the exhausted racers, and hop on my bike for a couple practice laps. Bike full of mud and crap, I try different lines on all the turns, climbs and muddy pits to find the most efficient path. The commissioners announce the start of the Masters race, meaning we all have to get off the course. I return to the Bikurious tent where comfy chairs and friendly faces are a plenty, to kill time before my race.
On the start line, everyone is always nervous. Or it could be that us crazy bikers like to prance around in skin tight shorts. I have one teammate on each side, and a couple friends/enemies that i've had all season long surrounding me as well. I look around for a bit, searching for Jacques Gallant who's supposed to take the start with us but is nowhere to be found. None of us had enough time to go back to the tent and grab him, so we'll start our race and he'll catch soon. A big sprint right off the end of the countdown, down the long flat section. The rider in front of me didn't have enough punch that I was able to easily go around him and stick in the top 10 before the 90 degree turn. Everyone wanted a good position for the first turn, meaning people were quite aggressive. One such rider was much to aggressive, tried to pass between me and the tree, only to find himself on the floor. Not having enough time or space to go around him, I ran over his deep carbon tubular like kicker. Not lying that made me smile. The first lap went pretty well, everyone positioning and bracing themselves for a long hour of pain. The course was quite technical with steep uphills, dangerous downhills, and muddy turns and off camber sections. Any wrong move and I would be smacking my lips getting ready for a mud buffet. There weren't many spots to rest or even regain my breath. Each flat section was short enough to sprint to lose people, or to catch up people. So no rest! For the mud sections, decisions had to be made. Either go around the puddles and lose more energy, or go through the puddle and continue the race with cold and soaked feet. I tried both. As for the muddy climbs, my old and worn out shoes didn't have any toe spikes anymore. This meant that I needed to stay on my bike instead of running, especially in front of the rowdy crowd at a specific place on the course. They were even kind enough to offer beer to passing racers. Not being too embarrassed, I grabbed two or three cups to stay hydrated during my effort.
The bike was starting to weight more with the mud, my legs warm and full of lactic acid, my lungs were burning and my thirst was becoming a matter of survival. My brain was aiming for one thing, finish the race so that i can get off this pain machine. The last last is always the most important for me. I know how much strength I have in my body to pace myself, and maybe to catch up on some riders. I pay attention to everything as to not make any stupid mistakes. There's nothing worse than not being able to finish a race, especially on the last lap because of a small mistake that could have been avoided. As I cross the line, I take one deep breath, and steal a couple chocolate milk cartons from the kind course volunteers. I make my way directly to the tent to lay down with a beer in my hand. Another race without a flat for me, I call that luck considering my horrible flat streak this season. A top 10 in my category for a full time engineering student, not bad.