Just got back this afternoon from Montréal -- what a fantastic experience! It sucks to be back, but it's also nice to be home. So many pictures, movies and stories to tell!
We got into Montréal with just a couple of hours to spare before the Outgames opening ceremonies. We got there in time that I was able to mass with Team Calgary in the meeting area at Olympic Stadium. The Opening Ceremonies were incredible! Calgary and the rest of the Canadian teams got a huge welcome into the stadium. While we were queued up in the tunnels to enter onto the main floor, the Dutch, Brit and Aussie teams in front of us were yelling out chants (presumably like football chants?) that were so loud and boisterous one couldn't do anything but laugh and cheer along! Many artists including k.d. lang, Deborah Cox, Martha Wash, Jonas, Sylvie Desgroseilliers, Diane Dufresne, and the Cirque du Soleil performed. It was pretty overwhelming to walk into a stadium filled with 45,000 people while the announcer is introducing 'Team Calgary'.
The British welcoming committee!
The Opening Ceremonies
The French cheerleading squad!
Cirque du Soleil
Afterwards, I met up with Joe at Berri Station, we walked the Gay Village and headed home for some sleep after a long day.
Sunday I left the hotel early to pick up my registration package at the Convention Centre and walked around a bit. Joe and I met up with our friend Mellissa from Calgary and hung out for the day. I had to go to the international Frontrunners meeting at 4pm as a representative of the Calgary team since we're supposed to be organizing a running event at the GLISA Continental Outgames being held for the first time in Calgary next year. I left them for a few hours in the evening to ride out to the cycling venues in Jean- Drapeau Park and then met up with them again for the Montréal Pride Parade. We sat with Phil and Rob for the parade. Afterwards we headed back to the Village and bar hopped for awhile. I headed home for some sleep while those two stayed out and partied until the wee hours of the morning.
Montreal Pride parade
The Village - Sunday night
Monday morning was the ITT. I clocked a time of 12:51.8 on the 8.6km course, good enough for gold! I beat the next time by almost 30 seconds which was quite substantial on this short course. Afterwards, Joe, Dennis and I went to Square Viger (the Outgames HQ/Athlete's Village for the week) and then walked around the Village again. Joe and I headed back to the hotel and went out for Greek food at Acropolis.
Callum (Edinburgh), Dennis, Andrew (Glasgow)
Tuesday was the Road Race (64km). It was 36C out and 46C with the Humidex -- definitely the hottest temps I've ever raced in. The race course was flat and fast. The (straight AND cute) Montréal team of four was working together at the front and screwing things up for the rest of us. Our average speed was over 41kph. I definitely worked the hardest in the lead pack and the finish came down to a sprint that I came in fifth in. I chased Stephane Dodier, one of the Montréal guys on an early final sprint which didn't work out as the sprinters came up from behind us and caught us at the line. Jonathan Arsenault took the win.
After the race we went back to the hotel, cleaned up and headed back to Square Viger. There was lots of people and entertainment going on. The thunderheads rolled in in about fifteen minutes and in very short order put an abrupt end to the festivities. We hung out under the roof of the main building in the square packed in with hundreds of others while the rains pours and wind blew. When the rain lightened up Joe and I headed back to the Village but the storm had sent most people inside or home for the rest of the evening, so there wasn't much going on and we simply headed back to the hotel.
Wednesday morning, Joe and I went shopping on Ste-Catherine. We did our obligatory spree in Simon's and then headed home to prep for the Criterium race which took place in Little Italy. It was hot, humid and raining off and on all afternoon so we weren't even sure at that point that the race was still going to go. Dennis and I biked up to the course and met up with Joe, Barb and Myrna there.
The Crit was fast and furious from the gun. The Montréal guys were working off the front again, fishing out sprinting solos or duos and getting the rest of us to chase. I was the marked man since they were intentionally trying to force these chases upon me in particular, or at least new that I would take the bait. A surprise sprint about 15 minutes in gave two of the Montréal guys a lead, with their third guy (Jonathan) rejoining the chase pack of four as he couldn't keep up the pace with the other two. Dennis got caught in a crash at this time and went down hard behind us. I didn't even know that he had gone down until afterwards, only to learn that he had broken his clavicle and was being taken to the hospital. All week they had been seeding the Licensed men with the Unlicensed men due to time constraints, but I think this was a big mistake since the majority of the unlicensed men would get shelled off the back early in the race and then became more of a hindrance on the courses than a help. Just ask Dennis about that!
Once again, the finish came to a final sprint of five riders for the bronze. It was a close photo finish and once again I ended up in fourth. Michel Detry was the winner. What a great race! The average speed of that one was up there again, around 42kph, with the winners coming in about 30 seconds before the chase.
Thursday morning Joe and I went to watch the triathlon in Jean-Drapeau Park since there were so many present and former Albertans we knew that were racing. It was a lot of fun to watch and I regretted not competing. Had I known that our Team Time Trial was going to be kiboshed on Friday morning, I definitely would have raced it as well! I should've brought the running shoes and speedo just in case!
The Calgary triathletes - Dan, Lisa, Guy, Peter, Darren
We headed out for food afterwards, got cleaned up and headed to the Sundance on Ile-Ste-Hélène at the Calder Monument. My favorite DJ Tom Stephan (Superchumbo) was headlining. We had a lot of fun and despite the smallish crowd, the men were pretty and I even got to meet Tom later in the evening!
Reid and Tom Stephan
Au Contre-Courant pool party -- sexy men in speedos!
As we walked back to the Métro station at Jean-Drapeau, we stumbled upon the Montréal swim team's (Au ContreCourant) pool party at the Aquatic Centre. It was like a Bel Ami video come to life! We ogled the men in speedos for awhile and took pervert shots and video before heading home.
Since Dennis was incapacitated, the remainder of the time trial team had agreed to go ahead and race anyways. Jari Mäkinen from Finland, myself, and Bryan McSorley from Calgary were to race but come Friday morning, Bryan was a no-show and Jari and I didn't have time to get together with anyone else so we ended up not racing at all. It was a great day for another time trial, so I was pretty disappointed.
Jari (Finland), me, Andrew, Callum
In the afternoon, Peter and I packed up the bikes and the four of us got ready to meet Gail and Rosemary and Barb and Myrna for dinner at Gibby's in Old Montréal. It is a fine restaurant in a historic building that used to be a horse stable. After a fantastic meal (I had Sea Bass, Joe had Chicken Kiev), we walked around the Village again and met up with Dennis and Fabio for a drink at Café Européen. There were huge lineups at all the clubs by that time, so we had a couple of drinks at some lounges and then headed back to the hotel. Scary - I'm getting too old for lineups!
Saturday morning was another trip to Jean-Drapeau Park for BBCM's 'Gay Day at the Beach'. It was hot and sunny - perfect weather for cruising guys on the beach! BBCM had set up a dance tent away from the beach (what's a beach party without the beach?) and because of the Outgames Marathon street closures in the morning they were late setting up the tents, etc. We hung out on the real beach without even going into the BBCM venue at all. There were lots of sisters hanging around while we were there and Dennis and Fabio joined us for awhile until we all headed back to the hotels to prep for the Closing Ceremonies.
Gay Day at the Beach
Fabio, Dennis, Joe
The Closing Ceremonies were a lot more subdued but there was a lot more alcohol being consumed by everyone. Liza Minelli was the headliner for the show and it appeared she had had a few beforehand too! Also appearing were Marjo, Marie-Chantal Toupin, and Melanie Renaud. DJ Tracy Young played for the crowd at the end while we gathered up things and headed with Phil, Rob, Brad, Rob, Peter and Paul to Square Viger. We went into the VIP section with Brad and Rob for awhile and chatted up Mark Tewksbury and Thomas Kevin Dolan in anticipation of Calgary hosting the first North American Outgames in conjunction with Western Cup next year.
The crew - Barb, Reid, Brian, Jag, Myrna
DJ Tracy Young
Afterwards Peter, Paul, Joe and I went to Bato Thai where we met up with Guy again for food and parted ways soon after as Joe and I were heading to the Soul Party at the Convention Centre while Peter and Paul had to catch their flight back to Calgary very early on Sunday morning. We got to the Palais du Congrès around midnight, and due to our imbibing earlier in the day didn't have the resolve to stick around until Junior Vasquez played, probably around 5am (yikes!). It was sort of stupid - you couldn't leave the venue at all, water was $5.50 a bottle (beer was $6), and there was no where to get away from the harshly loud music (ie. no chillout room). They definitely set up these productions for the tweaker crowd - like who could survive until 10am without booze or water unless they were on something? It was well attended, but sort of disappointing considering the cost of the ticket. We found Phil having a nap at a table later on and he and Rob left soon after. We hung out with Darren and Dean (who were feeling the same way as us) for awhile before we decided to leave too. It was still 4am when we got home.
Paul, Peter, Mark, Reid
Nighttime walk - Hôtel de Ville
Didn't need anymore...
Sunday was nice and relaxing. We walked the Village again, walked Old Montreal and the shopping districts on Peel and Ste-Catherine, and checked out the bar strip on Crescent. We headed back to the hotel around 6pm and crashed for the rest of the evening.
The airport was harrowing this morning. I had gotten the bike box to Montreal with no issues, however when we were checking in they wouldn't check in the box since it was overweight, so Joe and I frantically shifted equipment from box to bags in the middle of the airport, and then had to present it all again for manual inspection at security since it wouldn't fit through the x-ray machine. After that harrowing experience we were finally on our way back to Calgary. I was secretly praying that everything would arrive in one piece and fortunately it did.
Tonight we're just chillaxing as it's back to reality in the morning. We are flush with great memories and new friendships and blown away by the success of the Games and the effort put forth by the GLISA staff, and all the volunteers of Montreal that made it a fantastic success! Next to Calgary in 2007 for the first GLISA North American Outgames and Copenhagen in 2009!