I must share these thoughts of mine with you, if for no other reason than
to confirm the celebration of my first Défi. This year was in fact my second
attempt to do the Défi de l'Île. Although I have been inline skating for
more than 12 years, I had not ever attempted any long distance.
I must begin by explaining to you that I am married to an incredibly active,
attractive and athletic wife, named Angie, who has throughout the last two
decades, run marathons and participated in triathlons etc. -- in other words a
very tough act to follow. She was the member in the family with the record for
endurance, and well deserved I might add.
Last year, I had finally convinced myself that that was the year to do it,
especially since the Défi was exactly a week before my 50th birthday!
What a great gift to give myself! ...Well, it was all for nought, as I hit two
potholes in succession under the Mercier Bridge, crashed, and injured myself.
I had to abandon at the second checkpoint in Pierrefonds.
So, for the last twelve months, I have been asking myself whether or not I had
what was required, both physically and mentally, to make it through this
potentially life-changing challenge. Well, I am extremely proud to tell the
world, OK maybe only a few friends, that I DID IT!!!
I finished 43rd (8hrs 45min) in what was, according to veterans of the Défi,
the most difficult edition of all. I think I now know what they mean by most
difficult... But as difficult and humbling an experience as it was, I must say it
was incredibly exhilarating.
I would like to share with you and of course all the skaters who participated,
the following memories that I will always remember and treasure of my race:
- The expression on my wife's face at 05:45 when she realized I was going ahead
- The expression on my face at 05:46 when I realized I truly had convinced myself to go ahead
- Successfuly passing last years notorious two fr4#%@$#% potholes under the Mercier bridge
- The Leon Furniture truck that hit the biggest puddle and propelled a 9-foot wave of water/sand/mud on me on
- The immediately following yet unnamed/unidentified truck (I was still recovering from the Leon truck) that hit the next puddle and
propelled only a 4-foot wave of water/sand/mud on me!
- The 3 near-crashes on Gouin Blvd Ouest, due to ruts on the road surface
- The 2 near-crashes on the bicycle path in Montreal North, due to blankets of leaves and small branches
- The half dozen or so puddles with such width and depth, that they actually
qualify as small ponds! (I could have gotten even with the Leon Furniture truck driver had he been close enough)
- The two (sorry Angie) women drivers who dangerously cut in front of my path, without signalling, again on Pierrefonds
Blvd! (What's with that street anyway?)
- The incessant unrelenting wind, along with accompanying horizontal rain throughout most of the course
- The seemingly never-ending 5th and last section
- The wind gusts on Notre-Dame East, across from the refineries, which almost neutralized our forward progress at times
- But more than anything else that I enjoyed, was sighting the little
yellow arrows on the cycling path of the Lachine Canal, pointing to a left turn
towards Wellington street, indicating the last and final 3 kilometers. You see,
I live very close by, and for the last two or three years I have been going over
these little arrows at the beginning of my almost daily skating outings,
wondering if one day I would ever get an opportunity to experience the feeling
of seeing these arrows, but this time representing the end of my journey.
That journey could only be the Défi de l'Île.
- Lastly, my wife's expression (cheering, screaming, whistling, dropping her purse and cell phone
at my feet and almost tripping me just before the finish line) at my arrival
back at the Auditorium, 128 kilometers later...
Wow, I actually made it. Thank you all for the incredible experience, and I
will see you next year at the Défi de l'Île 2003.