I can’t quite believe that it is time of year again, but the F1 circus is landing in Montreal at the beginning of June. I used to go to the race every year, in fact for ten years running I attended, but for the past few years I have contented myself with watching it on telly. If there was ever a year to go down, this would be it. We are six races into the season and so far six different drivers from five different teams have won the races. This has not happened since the early 90s I think. So, shaping up to be a competitive year.
It’s a major international event, one that keeps Montreal on the map. We have more than our fair share of international events (International Jazz Festival, International Just for Laughs Festival, Montreal International Fireworks Competition to name just a few) but the Grand Prix is a reminder of how much money there is in the world, and the banal ways in which some people spend it. Then there’s Bernie Ecclestone, the self-appointed grand Poobah of motor racing, who every year tries to squeeze a few million more out of each an every host city. For some reason, most are so scared of losing this prestigious event, that they roll over and pay it. Silly.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again now: we are very lucky in Montreal to have the free use of an international racing circuit almost year round. One won’t be able to cycle or rollerblade on it for the next couple of weeks as the preparations for the race ramp up, but other than that and the occasional corporate event that closes the circuit temporarily, it is available for anyone and everyone.
It’s a pleasure riding on the track. The surface is smooth and frankly it is the only paved road in Montreal that is not strewn with potholes. Situated right in the centre of the mighty St. Lawrence river it provides dramatic views from all sides. You gaze across the water into downtown Montreal from the northern half of the track and on the south you face the Olympic rowing basin, still in use by rowing teams and enthusiasts alike.
Leaving the circuit from the southern most tip you take a spit of land that has you riding into the river before you reach the ice bridge that brings you back a couple of kilometres onto Île des Soeurs and then from there onto the main island of Montreal.
After passing right in front of the Bell Campus, home to my work, I am on the familiar commuting route, only this time I am on a carbon fibre performance road bike with 20 available gears and not a steel framed single speed fixed gear. It’s no less fun on the fixie, but the road bike does mean that I travel so much faster. Remarkable, in fact, the difference in speed and energy expended. Road bikes are much more efficient, but then you would expect them to be, wouldn’t you?
I was dead chuffed with the overall performance of the ride. Statistics junkies can take a look at the nitty gritty details here, but for those that don’t care so much I’ll just say that it was one of those days where, as Lance once said, there was “no chain”.