I was on hand at the Maisonneuve Park chalet, Montreal, on Saturday, February 8th, to take part in the 4th edition of the “Velo sur glace” ice race organized by the Honesca gang. Honesca, a local Montreal NPO, organizes the winter event in Montreal every year in an innovative and inclusive way, aiming to promote the outdoors and sustainable development in Quebec.
On the menu; a city-wide family ride, ice bike events, fatbike racing, and a skate bike relay. The events, which brings together families, cycling enthusiasts, and winter bikers alike, raises the bar for winter cycling in a party atmosphere with the ultimate goal to bring together the community to have sustainable fun combined with a touch of friendly competition.
With a bluebird sky, bright sun, and the mercury floating around -16ºc, (not to mention the wind chill factor) the ice rink awaited the riders in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium. Competitors quickly began lining up, checking their homemade ice tires complete with slicks that were drilled with screws, and the trials began on the ice rink. Everyone was rushing around waiting for the moment of truth. Who made the best homemade studded tires? Who had the best custom ice bike? To be honest, everyone’s bike performed extremely well, whizzing around the ice, except for maybe that crazy tandem! But the best part was getting to see all my friends after being stuck inside all winter and watching folks slipping and sliding around the outdoor skate rink.
A busy Saturday
On top of the races, the Honesca team had also prepared a series of fun programs including limbo cycling, skate bike tests, information booths on winter biking, exhibitions and even conferences on winter cycling travel. It was a busy day, to say the least, and participants were not bored with the plethora of events happening. Plus, the park chalet offered the opportunity to warm up with some hot coffee, soup, and delicious burritos to get energized for the day’s events.
The fatbike race
The activity had me hooked from the first time I heard about it. I had been riding the Kona Wo around town the past two weeks so I thought it would be interesting to enter myself into the fatbike 10 km race. The day before the event Montreal was plundered with a major snowstorm with 15 inches of snowfall. The race was going to be hard riding around in all that powder and the trail groomers were having a hard time keeping everything packed well. Ten of us lined up to do the race and we were all a bit nervous about the conditions. But as soon as we started we were all whooping and hollering at all the fun we were having. The conditions were indeed super soft and at some points, it was almost easier to run beside the Wo and push the bike CX style rather than ride the trails. I didn’t end up winning anything, but that wasn’t my primary goal. What matters is that I made some new friends, had a blast riding my fatbike and rode with a huge smile on my face the whole time.
Was it worth freezing the tip of my fingers and hanging out in -16ºC weather at this frosty event? Absolutely! Overall it was a great event with a party atmosphere bringing the cycling community together in winter. What else could you ask for? You can be sure that I’ll be there next year. I even made an appearance on the 6 o’clock news talking about cycling and community at this great event. Take a moment to subscribe to Honesca’s Facebook page and follow the inspiring project.