Report - Pierre Pauw



This year's Défi was different from my first Défi last year. The excitement of your first Défi can never be matched -- the pain, the agony, the emotions, the thrill of the unknown is always a bit more exciting, and last year's weather made it unique. This year I knew more what to expect; I was better prepared, I had warmer and waterproofed clothing, I brought less food, more plastic bags, and mentally I was better prepared, I had trained longer distances.

The morning of the Défi I met with my friend Ghislain and he told me we would be rolling with a couple of people from Roller-Montreal. I said "Great", but having never rolled with a team before I was a little bit nervous.

I was afraid of screwing them up (Ghislain is a member of Roller-Montreal, I am not), so I figured I would start with them and if I had a hard time I would let them go on. The start of the Défi went well; I was kind of roller-derbying around for the first few minutes, then our team kind of separated from the rest. I was going pretty good, I not only kept up, I seemed to fit in, I was acually thrilled to death. I had never skated with a team before but it was fun.

Section 1 went well except for when Rod clothes-lined me in Lachine, "haha".

In Section 2 we caught up to what seemed to be a large group of skaters. It started to rain lightly, making the road a little slick but managable. That #$@^*!()## hill in Senneville and their beautiful paved roads and "speed bumps" -- unbelievable. I got caught behind another skater on the hill; I tried to go left but kept slipping. Part of the group called to wait up, part of the group kept going, there seemed to be a bit of confusion, anyway that's when we parted. I tried hard to catch up to Ghislain, but could not. Along Cap St-Jacques there was road-repair and lots of gravel. One of my wheels got a small rock jammed in between the wheel and the frame of the skate, and I fell a little further behind. Pierrefonds Boulevard, what can I say! Up, down, up, down, lots of side streets. Now Gouin... those nice little cracks, pot-holes, tar-worms, hub caps, cars that think we can stop on a dime. By now I am a lone skater. My skate is slowing me down, must be a bearing or something. I stop at Hwy 15, do a quick repair job, call my son and ask him to bring my other skates. He's to meet me somewhere on Gouin just past Pont Pie-IX; he met me at Hwy 40 at the end of Section 4.

It took about 15 minutes. Change skates, pipi, eat, go. My legs by now were really tired and sore. Notre-Dame street went well, and in no time I was at Pie-IX and in the distance could see Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Now, I don't think I have to explain what the sight of that bridge does to skaters at the Défi. The next half-hour seems like a blur. When you get past the bridge and turn left on Berri you go down a big hill (try not to get killed), skate on 100-year-old tiles trying to avoid people who are visiting the Old Port. Go up 2 little hills that seem like mountains to very tired legs. (In the summer these hills don't even bring your heart rate up.) Skate down Wellington, again avoiding pot-holes, tar-worms, cars, spare parts? Finally reaching le fameux Canadian Tire right at that point you feel like you can skate another Défi (a small one!).

I did Section 5 in good time, but I had lost an hour on my friend. I finished at 7:15 which is 2 hours better than I did last year. My friend Ghislain finished at 6:13, which is 2 1/4 hours better than he did last year. I was happy for Ghislain and his teammate Rod. I believe this was also a personal best for Rod. A few weeks earlier Ghislain was not sure he could do the Défi, feeling he was not in good enough form. What a difference a couples of weeks make. As for me I realize skating in a team is a lot easier than skating alone, and is a lot more fun.

All in all I am happy about my Défi. Next season I will join Roller-Montreal so I can learn more about skating in teams, and improving my technique. They seem to be a good bunch of people willing to help others improve while improving themselves.

Merci beaucoup à M. Fortier et sa Famille et tous les Benevoles. C'est grâce à eux que le Défi fonctionne si bien.

Thank you to Mr. Willmot for such a well-informed and maintained web site (and for letting me skate with you).

Thank you to Craig and Carolyne for bringing me my skates...

Thank you to Ghislain Pelletier for letting us soak our tired old bones in your tub.

Till October 16 2004,

Pierre Pauw, #16