Thursday, 14 July 2016

Gastown Grand Prix

Watching the women go by after a sharp turn in the race course
One of my good friends is a cycling fanatic and even went to Paris to watch the finish of the Tour de France one year.

He told me he'd be watching Vancouver's Gastown Grand Prix today and suggested I come along to check it out so I did.

We had to line up early at The Diamond to get a seat by the window, but already a few people were in front of us. We didn't get a window seat, but we had easy access to the race course which was only steps away.

At another point of the course the women racers whiz by
It all started at 5.30pm when the teenagers raced, followed by the women at 6.15pm, and then the men at 7.30pm.

I saw a bit of the teens racing, but when the women competed, it was very impressive. I stood right by the fence and as they came by, they really hugged close to the temporary railing. They really did whoosh by and in seconds were gone.

They followed a red Tesla and then a black one rounded the rear. If riders were too slow and rode behind the black Tesla, they were deemed disqualified from the race.

This year is the 33rd running of the race, that was started by Dr Roger Sumner in 1973, who wanted to organize a bike race to show people what top level bike racing in Canada was like.

The course is quite tight, making it highly intense and the chances are great for spills because some of the turns are quite tight.

If you're not fast enough, your picture looks like this...
But there's a lot of money at stake -- the announcer explained first prize was CAD$12,000, only a few thousand euros short of what racers in the Tour de France win for clinching a stage of the grueling race. Racers also got a chance to win money if they sprinted particular laps.

Nevertheless, another friend remarked to me she was surprised to see much fewer people watching the race compared to last year... wonder why the sudden drop in interest.

My cyclist friend suggested I stay a bit longer to watch the men's race, but a fire alarm went off in the area and the fire trucks were trying to get to it, which meant a big delay in starting the men's race.

I had a dinner to go to so I couldn't stay, but can imagine the speeds were even faster than the women... maybe next year!


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