Défi de L'Île de Montréal
128 km on inline skates
To all my new French-Canadian friends...
We came from Michigan feeling pretty cocky. And why not, we had just finished the grueling A2A two weeks before. We were conditioned. We knew there would be no endless number of hills to climb and then descend at terror-inducing speeds. We thought we would spend our time taking in the sights and skating around l'Île de Montréal at our leisure. We weren't even intimidated by the rain. We did have some concerns about the cold but were dressed for the occasion. We were ready to kick some butt!!! Little did we realize that after 50 miles of skating in a steady downpour, there'd be a 20-plus mile per hour headwind that would relentlessly push us back for the last 20 miles!
What a challenge! After being unable to tie the laces on my skates, after seriously considering not getting up after my third fall of the day, after slipping down leaf-covered trails and on oil-soaked driveways, over roads that made the Georgia "gatorback" look and feel like an indoor polyurethane track, I finally got to sit down at Verdun Auditorium... And realized I could not stand up without help.
But what a rush! Finishing such a long event under such harsh and demanding conditions, among such a friendly and helpful group of people, really made me appreciate what a great sport inline skating is, and what great people support all the events around the globe.
My first run at the Défi stands out in my memory as strongly as my first full-length A2A. Both events offer a challenge to skaters that will make you understand your strengths and weaknesses as a skater and human being. A2A offers relentless hill after hill over an 86-87 mile course. But at least you get to rest and recover on the downhills and carry your momentum into the next climb. The Défi, on the other hand, demands that you keep skating endlessly over 128 km without rest or recovery. Then, in addition, you get to skate into the wind for what seems like an eternity.
But -- when you finally do get to the finish, you come in to the cheers and smiles of all those well-wishers who make the agonizing process worthwhile.
The Défi is sure to take its place alongside events such as A2A and the New York 100K as one of the premier inline skating events.
I can hardly wait until next year !!!!
Special thanks to Rod Willmot for going to great efforts to make les Américains feel welcome and comfortable. Special thanks to all the people who put up with our complete ignorance of French.
Special thanks to my new friend Marcel Lafontaine, who found the courage to continue the race when every bone and fiber in his body said stop. Your courage and determination helped me to find the strength to continue when my body said "enough is enough". How could I quit when I knew my new friend was waiting for me at the finish line!
Lastly, thanks to Montréal -- a wonderful city with great people.