Montreal is a mostly French speaking city in Quebec, Canada. With over 3 million people in the area, it is Canada's second largest city.
Mont Royal is a small mountain just outside of downtown Montreal. The course starts near the top and heads down to Avenue Du Parc. The course starts off with a shallow left turn and then into a huge right hand almost 180 degree turn. It feels like there is a small straight before the right hand turn is finished. A straight builds up speed builds up speed before a slight shorter left turn. This turn is also not quite 180 degrees, but it is close. After exiting this turn, there isn't much time to set up for the series of right hand turns that finish off the course, and again almost add up to another 180 degree turn. You can see a traffic light as you enter the turns, sometimes it is red! The course is about a mile long. The biggest problem with this course is it is very bumpy. The hard left and the bottom right each has a large bump that you can actually catch air on, in the entrance of the turn. The turn at the bottom also has another large bump midway through the turn.
Friday, September 1
There was a mandatory riders meeting at The Loft in downtown Montreal. The meeting was actually on the roof of the club. When I got there, late as traffic was horrible (go figure, it was 5pm on a Friday) everyone was lined up to register. There were quite a few people, so it took a while to register. After registering we kind of milled around for a bit. I don't think that bar was open to the public yet, but they had the bars upstairs open for us, selling I think just Bud Light and water. Someone showed up with a case of Concrete Wave. If you haven't read it, it is a decent longboarding magazine. After most everyone was registered, we had a short meeting. We were told they wanted to get our pics taken. At sunset the pics may have been spectacular, but I don't know how much of the background will show up in the pics. The meeting wrapped up about 7:30 or so, and I don't think the club was open yet. I thought we would just hang out at the club all night, but with no one else there, everyone left. There was talk of meeting at a different club later in the evening. A few of us walked up the street and ate outside and got to "watch" a movie in the Montreal Film Festival. Unfortunately the movie was in French with subtitles.
Saturday, September 2
My hotel was around the corner from the finish line. But since today is Saturday, I would have to pay for parking, I decided to drive up to the parking lot near the top of the course, where I could get free parking. Of course this meant driving to the other side of the mountain! The parking lot is about a half mile downhill from the pit area, so they had some shuttles running. Unfortunately we had to get a parking permit from the pit area. This meant getting a ride up to drop our stuff of, get the permit, and then find a ride back to put it in the car.
We were supposed to be at the course by 8:30, for tech inspection and to get our bibs. Tech inspection didn't really happen, we were told if we had anything out of the ordinary we would vote on it. After we picked up our bibs, we didn't have anything to do till 10:30. We finally got underway. There were several hundred spectators watching the practice. We all lined up for our second run. But between only have three pickup trucks, and a wreck, it took almost an hour to get our second practice run in. Racing was supposed to start at 12:30, but we finished up practice around 1:00. Most of us only got two runs in, a few got managed to sneak in 3 runs. One of the trucks had seats in the back, with an interesting hangar on the side. The course started at a parking lot for a view outlook. The view looked out to the north of downtown Montreal, but was still spectacular.
The afternoon session would be qualifying. Instead of doing time trials, we would race 4 heats, with points earned for finishes. First got 5 points, 2nd 3 points, third 1 point, and no points for fourth. The worst of the four would be dropped. The top 16 in luge, inline and dirt surfers would advance, while the top 32 in standup would advance to Sunday. The dirt surfers started off the qualifying. While they were racing we were served hot dogs for lunch. It took about an hour and a half to qualify the 22 dirt surfers.
Street luge qualified second. I managed to pull two thirds and then two seconds. I thought it would be good enough to qualify, but it would be close. I was feeling very comfortable on the course. It was very bumpy in the worst spots, enough to catch air. And rough in others. I never had a problem with the straights, but I saw a lot of people almost wob out. I felt like I need a few more runs to get the feel of the course. I was feeling more comfortable by the end of the day after six runs, but it sounded like it will rain tomorrow.
At the bottom of the course a band was playing. The bottom was probably the largest spectator area. The corner was lined with flags, sponsor banners, and people. There were a few skateboard shops set up as well. We got a ride back to the top, but we miss counted the heats. There were so many standup riders, they were taken split into two groups!
The qualifiers were posted, looks like I squeaked in. After gathering my equipment, and walking back to my car (we gave up waiting for a shuttle) I had to find my way back to the finish line. It felt kind of dumb, since I was just at the finish, I also found out my hotel has a parking garage (even though I asked when I checked in!) I got cleaned up and ready for dinner. Before heading to dinner, we walked up and watched a bit of the slalom contest. The contest was being held at about the finish line, and was just getting under way, so they were only going through a few practice runs. We went off to dinner before heading to the party. The party was being held at iStori, a billiards bar. It was $3 to enter, but we got free pool. Unfortunately the Bud Lights were $4.50, so a bunch of the riders decided to go to another bar with cheaper beer. I got back to my hotel room around 2 AM. All day people had been saying it would rain tomorrow. So I checked the hour to hour weather. It was supposed to start raining around 2, it was still dry out so I was hopeful. But the floods on the east coast didn't look good.
Sunday, September 3
I woke up around 9 as we didn't have to be on the course till 10. First thing I did was look outside. I didn't have much of a view, I was looking at an inner courtyard that was about 4 feet wide, but the chair on my balcony was wet. Looks like it wasn't raining, but the road would be wet.
Since today was Sunday, I decided to leave my car on the street, and walk up to the finish line. It was drizzling as I walked up. Fortunately there was a large tent like structure to hang out in. While we were waiting for a shuttle to show up, it started to rain pretty hard. I wasn't really comfortable with the course yesterday, I was deciding if I was going to even practice. The school bus finally came down and picked us up. Yesterday most everyone hung out outside, with a few people in the shade of the tent. Today everyone was packed into the tent.
A few people showed up ready for the Montreal weather. I guess the fact that it has rained at 3 of the last four Top Challenges should have clued me in. Actually I thought about bringing rain gear, but then I figured it didn't really matter much if my leathers got wet. It was raining for the first run but stopped during the second run.
Street luge raced next. I started off racing Loic and Smrtic, they both beat me off the line, and I decided not to push it in the wet. I ran super conservative and took last. The way the racing was setup, was they had a winners bracket and a losers bracket. Oddly enough, the winners of the semis would race for the final, but there was no consolation. The winners of the losers bracket would race again! In my second heat I again got beat off the start, but was catching them by the second turn. I guess I braked harder than I meant to, and they pulled away from me. The course was drying out this time, but unfortunately it was wet entering the corners, while it was dry in the corners. Made it very interesting, as you didn't really know how much to brake.
Two of the Three Bobs manage to win their first heat, and were stoked to advance. Meanwhile Fryer was on fire all weekend. It didn't even look like the rain was slowing him down. The course was fairly well dry by the time the final was run. Fryer took it by several lengths!
The inline race ran next, with the standup race finishing the day off. During the inline race, the standup guys worked on their gear. The course was completely dry. Once again we walked down the course and watched the standup race. Unfortunately due to the inclement weather the crowd wasn't much larger than the day before.
Immediately after the last race, the standup guys raced back to the top. While we were waiting for them to come back down, the awards ceremony started. There was supposed to be a slide contest, I guess it was going to be run between rounds, or between diciplines, but it was supposedly canceled. And yet prizes were given out anyways. The slalom and dirt surfers also had their own prizes. The top four finishers in street luge and standup got nice etched pitchers.
It took us a while to clear out of the area. I still had most of my gear at the top of the hill, but I had a hard time getting a shuttle to the top, and another one back to the finish line. I almost put my shoes on and rode my board back down! We hung out at the bottom for maybe an hour, and already the course was more than half torn down!
It was off to a nice dinner in Old Montreal then we headed over to the after party, which was held at the end of Alexandra Pier. The party was held at the end of a warehouse on the pier. There was a DJ indoors, and a large outdoors area that was under a roof, fortunately as it was still drizzling. Later in the evening they opened up the roof, and most people hung out there until it started raining again. The pic on top of the page was taken from the roof of the party.
While the top speed on the course was just less than 55 MPH, it was a dangerous and deceiving course. Many of the bumps were on the entrance to the turns, or near the apex. There was also plenty of other cracks and bumps to force you to stay on your toes the entire course. There were several people with severely bruised and possible broken limbs, and at least one broken arm. One person was taken to the hospital with at least a concussion. With a hill with a decent road near the center of town, this can turn into a pretty amazing race, especially if the road was ever paved!