After a 17 hour journey from Manchester via Munich, Montreal and Mont Joli I arrived in Baie Comeau which sits on the northern banks of the St Lawerence River some 420 miles north east of Montreal.
Despite the length of the journey I was still only 5 hours behind UK time and the place so remote the UK mobile phone service providers don’t have a partner over here, so we have no phone signal. Mind you, that could be a good thing and quite a welcome break from the one item that has become an extension of most people’s arms!
The final leg of the journey from Mont Joli was across the St Lawerence River and took just nine minutes! I was in a 48 seater propeller plane which was virtually skimming the water at just 5000 feet up! It was an amazing sight to be so close to the world below and as we crossed onto land it dawned on me just how remote we are here.
Having honeymooned in western Canada I have fond memories of the remote regions of the country and with beautiful scenery in between the small towns, it really is a stunning place to be.
After a short transfer into the town, to join the rest of the team who had arrived a few hours earlier, I was ready to collapse and sleep right through to breakfast and get myself on the right time zone. I’ve never suffered with jet lag and after such a long day of travelling there was no chance of me not sleeping the first night!
First job after breakfast was a course recce and in unusually warm conditions for our location, I set out with my team mates to check out the course. Although confusingly there were four or five different versions of the course, depending on when you last checked out the UCI website! We rode what we thought was every option but then got back to the hotel to find out there was yet another version online!
In essence the 11.5km course is very straightforward with nothing more technical than one ninety degree right-hander immediately before the main climb on every lap and one sweeping left-hander about 2km after the start. It’s also an interesting course to ride, so given there are lots of road works elsewhere in the town, it’s no issue to lap the course for training each day.
In answer to my racing prayers the course goes straight up hill from the start, it levels off, turns left and then kicks up again. After dropping slightly, bearing right the road then sweeps round the left-hander before dropping through what is currently a no entry sign and currently being well guarded by the local police, so no sneaking through! After a short flat section the road kicks up to the ninety degree right turn and then gradually rises to the start of the main climb. This climb is in two parts, flattens just after half way and then kicks up again over the top. It’s a decent gradient and putting out around 400 watts gives me about 17 kph. It’s about 1.5km long and after going over the top the road drops all the way to a sweeping right-hander after which the road drops again all the way towards the river before flattening out and running alongside the river for a kilometre or so. By this point we’re about 1.5-2km to the finish and after going over some tram lines the road rises gradually before kicking up and passing under the bridge over which we had started the main climb. From the top of the last kick up it’s about 600 metres to the finish and all down hill or flat.
My Road Time Trial is on Thursday and I’ll be riding two laps of the course, so pacing will be key to make sure the climb doesn’t bite back in the second lap! Then on Saturday it’s a short Road Race, just 5 laps of the course but with all the rises in the road it’s a much tougher than any other course I’ve ridden at a Paracycling World Championships.
Since arriving the weather has been at both end of the spectrum, 27 degrees and clear skies yesterday then 15 degrees and torrential rain today. Given our location, the locals say the weather can change hourly so we’ve got to be ready for anything, including snow!
It should be an interesting four days of racing and I’m raring to get going!
photos Janos Schmidt