19 September 2013

Snapshot: A glimpse of pro cycling in Vieux-Quebec


A year ago, I'd never thought twice about professional cycling.  A year ago, Lance Armstrong still had all his accolades, and the Tour de France was as unfamiliar as Quebec City felt when we first moved here.  Then, last September, I received an assignment to cover the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, one of only three world class pro cycling races held in North America.  



While my photograph of that event wound up winning a prize in the annual provincial newspaper competition, the real win was intellectual.  I learned that these bikers compete on international teams.  They absolutely must compete in all the races on the world circuit, which includes the Tour de France.  Here in Quebec City, they pedal 16 times around a 125.3-kilometer* course that runs up and down some of the nastiest hills in town, and they do it in less than five hours.  And a bunch of other not-s0-trivial trivia.

This is the view from that bridge.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to cover the event again this year.  I wound up standing on a bridge spanning the steepest hill, chatting with a Frenchman who lives in British Colombia (whose uncle once rode in the Tour de France) and an American who has spent the past several decades as a public health official here in Quebec City.  Both were serious cycling fans, and they gave me a crash course in the politics, funding complexities, and basic racing strategies that make the sport so intriguing.  

**I don't know enough about it to start trying to explain the nuances, but here are a few online articles that can provide a bit of context:

In the end, I focused this year's article on a somewhat obvious question: How fast is a pro cyclist, anyway?  Follow this link for even more of my images from the 2013 race.





*Post updated 13 Oct. 2013: L. Marshall pointed out a typo.  The course is 123.5 kilometers in length, rather than 123.5 miles, as I initially wrote.
**Post updated 04 Oct 2013: Article links were added in response to a reader request for "the rest of the story."






9 comments:

JAG said...

This was a good post, beautiful pictures, but it left out the punch line. I know we can click for the speed achieved and get that article, but it left me wanting the real scoop learned from the two people you stood beside. I want the politics and funding and whole story of behind the scenes that you learned from them.

Jen B. said...

Somehow the picture of them that you got from up above made me feel like I wanted to see them from the front, not the behind. I felt like I missed the 'sense' of the race when I didn't get to see any faces. Does this made sense?

fruit.root.leaf. said...

The "scoop" is that there's a lot of egos, nationalism, strategy, and throwing around large amounts of cash. However, I don't know enough about it to try to detail it in print. Maybe I can find and include a couple of links online that would offer some of the behind the scenes info from a more well-informed writer.

fruit.root.leaf. said...

Thank you for asking for more! I can add a link to the photos I have online...there are several more, and plenty where you can see their faces.

fruit.root.leaf. said...

Here's a link to the images in my online portfolio: http://flickr.com/gp/fruitrootleaf/aG88r2/.

Rachel said...

Something I know nothing about...and will check out your links to satisfy the curiosity aroused. BUT I love your photos, the color balance is striking. Thank you!

fruit.root.leaf. said...

Thank you, Rachel!

fruit.root.leaf. said...

Hi Larry,
Thanks for catching that typo! It should have been kilometers per hour, rather than mph!

Jackie Stiles said...

Great post my good friend.
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