Sep 10, 2013

Silver Medal at the 7th Jeux de la Francophonie

 I had the honour of representing Canada and Québec in Nice, France at the 7th Francophone Games (held every 4 years).  Nice (pronounced "niece" by the way) borders on the Mediterranean sea. I had been once before, but without my bike.  I was so happy to have had the opportunity to return, to RACE.
The day we arrived was long and difficult.  I like challenges, but only when my basic needs are met: sleep, food, and reasonable hygiene.  Priority #1: Getting our bikes built up, and riding.  I ended my ride with a swim in the Mediterranean ocean.  That was pleasant. Exhausted from jet lag and travel, we could not sleep until late at night due to meetings and ceremonies and events that we were happy to attend, but perhaps not in the best shape to get the most out of.
Waiting for a ceremony to begin... the energy tank is past empty, but the spirits are high.
We had one day to get over the travel and jet lag (6 hours time difference).  I did a warm-up ride with my teammates, and headed back home to do the real intervals on the stationary trainer.  Alain from ISM took care of my legs afterwards with an excellent massage that I was more than grateful for.
 We skipped the opening ceremonies of the Francophone Games that night.  It made me sad to hear the fireworks and see them flash through the trees of the campus where I was staying.  But I knew I was better off resting.  I was already sleep deprived and the race start was at 9 am the following morning.  
We started in a heavy rainfall on the Promenade des Anglais and headed out towards the hills.    With the 100 SPF sunscreen running down my face in the downpour, much too often I could only see out of one eye, even with my Spy sunglasses.  There were climbs, attacks, flats, and plenty of crashes on the extremely slippery roads out there.  Fortunately, even in Cyclops-mode, I had no such issues other than my wheel slipping across the pavement a few times.  

In the final kilometers, there were 7 of us up the road, ahead of the peloton.  One French rider attacked and got away, but I jumped on her wheel and went with her.  We sped down the road and as the finish line neared, we started playing a bit of cat-and-mouse.  I was on the front, and didn't want to be.  She attacked hard, and even though my legs were tired, I pounded on my Time Xpresso pedals and jumped in her draft.  HA! Now I was in the favorable position, and she just burnt half a match...  A large, blue, inflatable arch was coming into sight.  There was no red flag (or flamme rouge).  I was sure it was the finish.  Jumping off her wheel and crossing under it first was a mistake.  1km was left.  I felt silly for my mistake but determined to fight to the end.  I was now on the front, and she was in my draft.  With 275m to go, I stood up on my pedals and tried to start a long sprint, but the French rider used her momentum from riding behind me, and accelerated so fast out of my draft that I couldn't catch her before the line.  She won.  I got silver.  I was a bit disappointed.  But very happy at the same time.

Ministre de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport : Marie Malavoy et Lex Albrecht. Jeux de la Francophonie. Nice, France
What an honour to represent my team, my sport, my province, and my country on the podium at the 7e Jeux de la Francophonie.  The minister of Leisure, Education and Sport, Marie Malavoy came to congratulate me after the race.
Lex Albrecht et chef de mission et coordonnateur sport de l’équipe du Québec, Éric Pilote.
 It was a tough day, and a lot happened out on the road.  I'm proud of the work our team did together. The courage and strength of my teammates was exceptional.  What an honour to be a part of it all.
La plus belle médaille que j'ai eu à vie!  (Et du vernis à ongle qui s'agence avec l'uniform de l'équipe du Québec.. :) )

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