Report - Chrisy Grudzien



Défi de Montréal - A Skate's Point Of View

The journey to Montréal was much more pleasant than usual, my owner let me ride in the back seat, rather than the trunk, something about crossing the border. I remember the same thing happened last year at Niagara Falls... The weather was gorgeous with few clouds and cool temperatures the way most skates like me love it. She sure spent a lot of time getting me ready for this race -- new well-oiled micro-bearings, her best racing wheels, waxed laces and best of all, I got a bath, some polish followed by a delicious Silicone seal, mmmmmm, wonderful.

We arrived early at the residence of our host Benoît Julien, where she spent a while talking to him on the phone about something or other... All I know is I want to go out for a fast tour of Île des Soeurs. Yes, she is getting the folding chair out of the trunk, we are going for a skate... Listen to my bearings sing, feel the cool breeze, this is freedom! Sure hope the weather holds for tomorrow. Back at the condominium, my wheels get a once-over clean and dry before I'm snuggled into my mobile home. Both she and he will meet with other skaters to discuss the race and enjoy an evening together. I'm safe and warm for the night... I'm ready!

Hey what time is it? You have to be kidding, it's 4:30 AM, what's going on? Something is happening she is removing my racing wheels and putting on the.... oh no, not the rain wheels. Yuck, older greasy bearings with scuffed-up softer wheels. This surely isn't my best look. Now she is tying small white plastic bags to the lower part of the boot, this does not look promising. At least I won't be alone, Benoît's handsome Rollerblade Lightning 7's with Hyperwheels and micro-bearings are getting the same treatment. Sure hope we can skate together?

Hmmmmm, it's dark and raining, and she just slipped me on and laced me up, pulling the bags tight at the ankle and duct-taping them to her ankle. Oh joy! Well at least I'm still dry and warm, more than I can say about her. Off to the start line we go through rain, puddles and debris, maybe the greasy bearings weren't so bad an idea after all. Someone begins a count down in French, camera lights go on, flashes split the darkness, this must be the start, off we go...

Good strong strokes power me through the dawn darkness over the wet slick pavement, covered with leaves, sticks and mud. Rod is behind us, I didn't recognize his skates with the covers! It's really hard to see anything in the dark, especally through a plastic bag...

Moving at a good pace though the dark, Benoît becomes separated from us for a while. But we meet with him again at another junction. Our pace line consists of Benoît, Rod, Lisa from Georgia and several unknown skaters. The rain is incessant, the puddles become ponds, the air too frigid... The will shall be steeled or broken today.

Hours pass, the weather has not improved?! Our paceline has reduced to three, Benoît, Lisa and Chrisy. All have experienced falls due to pavement cuts hidden under innocent water. Stopping to rest is no longer an option, cold rain and its relentless friend the wind drains the living warmth in almost an instance. Time has now become an enemy as well...

Someone exclaims we are beyond halfway, but there is little reaction. Somehow my protective plastic bags have begun to fail. I am wet and beginning to feel the cold, as she has from the beginning.

Miles roll beneath my wheels, minutes disappear, stripped from life's clock, the internal spirit is now the only fuel to finish.

More falls,
   wind sharp as a knife,
      endless road crossings,
         stops and starts,
            slips and scares...

The gloomy cold grey curtain overhead blocking the sun, time seems to be frozen, only the pain is real. On we press, urging, helping, caring, through one more crossing, one more pond, over one more slippery bridge, one more broken pavement, one more ...........Finish Line.

Chrisy Grudzien