A while back, somehow, my husband found out about the Grand Prix Cycliste. This was a 2-day (non-consecutive) race taking place in the Quebec Province of Canada. The first race was to be held on September 10th in Quebec City and the other was to be held in Montreal on September 12th.
Because this was a ProTour race that means that all the ProTour teams were required to send a squad. That meant some pretty big names would be there.
I’ve lived in Maine all my life. Maine is right next door to Canada but I’ve never been there. Neither had my husband, but he grew up in Florida so it was easier for him to say that. We thought this was a good excuse to head north to see two cities we found intriguing.
There is so much to report about our trip so I’m going to break it down into a couple different posts. In this post I’ll just give you some rundown of our plans and cover a few things we did while we were there.
Our plan was to leave early on Thursday and be in Quebec City by lunch time. It was a 5-hour drive. We’d spend one night there and right after the race we’d head to Montreal, a 3-hour drive. We’d spend three nights in Montreal and drive home Monday morning, another 5-hour drive. So yes, a lot of drive time but we like to drive and see the scenery.
We arrived as planned on Thursday around lunch time. We pulled up to the hotel, got out, only to see George Hincapie and the rest of the BMC team rolling out for a training ride. At that point the magnitude of our trip really hit home and the excitement was overwhelming.
Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Chateau Frontenac, the most famous hotel in Quebec City, and where the ProTour riders and support staff were staying.
After checking into our hotel we walked towards the Hotel Frontenac in search of a little lunch. The remainder of the afternoon was spent wandering around a bit then we went to watch the Sprint Challenge, a race for some Canadian racers where there were 6 heats, with 4 racers in each heat, including a neutral start and a 1K sprint for the line, with the top 2 finishers advancing.
After a little breakfast at the hotel we walked to the Chateau Frontenac once again. I had noticed a Starbucks there the day before and I was in search of some decent coffee. As we stood in line I said to our friend who had accompanied us on the trip that George Hincapie was also in line a little further down. Soon afterward, Jens came in. My friend was a bit shy but really wanted her photo with them. So I politely asked if it was too early to bother them for a photo op. They were all very gracious and obliged our request.
We walked around a little after that (well, perhaps it was more like floating) before heading back to the hotel to get ready to watch the race. (I’ll cover the races in separate posts.)
As it turned out, our hotel was on the race course so with the barricades up along the course we were a bit trapped until they could take all that down after the race. We ended up grabbing some dinner before leaving so that gave the city some time to take down the barricades. Next time we’ll plan to stay the extra night after the race and head to Montreal Saturday.
We didn’t wake up too early in Montreal after being up late the night before. When we did get up we ventured down to the old port section of town for some breakfast. It was a beautiful area and we enjoyed walking around a bit. There wasn’t much activity so we didn’t have an issue with parking or getting a table for breakfast.
Later that day we met our friend and her Montreal friend for a nice bike ride along the canal. It was a little unnerving to be along a path with two way bike traffic. And it was CROWDED! It took a little getting used to. We weren’t there for a training ride, which would have been hard to accomplish with the number of slow cyclists on the route. Our goal was to just enjoy being on the bikes and take in the scenery.
Sunday was race day and we had a plan to walk the entire course for this race. We figured we walked about 16 kilometers that day and glad we did. We were able to get some of the best shots of the two races.
We got on the road early, as we typically do, and headed for home. I later found out on Twitter that there was a bike expo taking place that day with some of the riders from the events. Next time we’ll try to check that out!