DURING THE SIX JOURS DE ZURICH CYCLING EVENT IN 1956, A RACER BROKE FOUR TEETH. A FALL? AN ACCIDENT? NO. FOUR TEETH BROKEN DURING A TURBULENT START – PROOF OF A FIERCE DESIRE TO WIN. THIS IS THE STORY OF SOME MONTREALERS WHO STILL HAVE ALL THEIR TEETH, BUT WHO ARE ALSO SPURRED ON BY ONE ALL-CONSUMING DESIRE: THEIR PASSION FOR CYCLING.

You won’t find the names of Normand Chartrand, Franois Duchesne, Simon Gauthier, or Pierre Wilkie among the participants of Les Mardis Cyclistes in Lachine or on a list of Canada’s top Olympic hopefuls. They are four professionals and businessmen, Duchesne 48, Gauthier 49, Wilkie 50 and Chartrand 51, who met in a spinning class and share the same obsession: extraordinary cycling challenges.

The more dangerous the incline, the more excited these cyclists become. It all started with L’Étape du Tour, a chance for 8,500 amateur cyclists to challenge the renowned Tour de France course. These fearless athletes, who will participate in their fifth adventure this summer, have, since L’Étape du Tour, taken part in the Death Ride in California and have also become members of the select Club des CinglŽs du Mont-Ventoux. They have climbed this towering mountain – one that strikes fear in the hearts of Tour de France competitors – three times on the same day.

They have also known the thrill of participating in the …tztaler Cycling Marathon in Austria. Last May, they took part in the first Gran Fondo New York, a warm-up for their next challenge, Mount Grappa, a 170-km course with a 4,500-meter incline (strictly climbing), and the following day, Lapinarello, a 205-km course with a 3,000-meter climb. In two days they will have scaled the equivalent of Mount Everest!

Their greatest accomplishment: their followers. «It’s our enthusiasm that attracted them,» explains Chartrand. «They read the passion in our eyes.» Starting out with four, they now have ten and sometimes twelve supporters. It hasn’t gone to their heads though: you won’t hear them discussing strategies or personal exploits with their entourage.

Not satisfied to simply admire the gorgeous landscapes, they scale and then hurtle down these mountains. Let’s not forget that underlying their enormous pleasure is the huge challenge that each one has set for themselves. «I don’t have a particularly disciplined nature,» confesses Wilkie, «but the events and the solid friendships we have developed force me to prepare, to respect my training schedule.» Gauthier agrees wholeheartedly, adding, «It isn’t always easy to be disciplined when you love fine wine and good cheese.» «Those who think that we put ourselves in harm’s way and only suffer should know that this actually liberates the spirit; it allows us go the distance, both physically and mentally, in all aspects of our life,» concludes Duchesne.

Their next challenge – the Dolomites: a magnificent, one-of-a-kind mountain chain that can only be described as spectacular. They are already hungry. It is a physical hunger, a desire to devour, to continue taking a bite out of life.

Photos: Michel Cloutier et Sportograf.com

On parle ici de quadragénaires qui partagent le même dada, des activités cyclosportives épicées.

De gauche à droite : Simon Gauthier, François Duchesne, Normand Chartrand et Pierre Wilkie.

On parle ici de quadragénaires qui partagent le même dada, des activités cyclosportives épicées.

De gauche à droite : Simon Gauthier, Laurent Proulx, Charles Trottier, Alan McIntosh, Alain Ruel, Gérald Mendes,
Mario Lampron, Marc Giguère, Pierre Wilkie, François Domingue, Normand Chartrand et François Duchesne.

On parle ici de quadragénaires qui partagent le même dada, des activités cyclosportives épicées.

De gauche à droite: Normand Chartrand, Pierre Wilkie, Simon Gauthier et François Duchesne

Tour du courage 2011

Le Tour du courage Parmi les nouveaux disciples de nos quatre cyclistes, il y a Laurent Proulx. Victime du cancer de la prostate, il a lutté contre la maladie et il a pris le taureau par les cornes. Il a ainsi mis sur pied «Le Tour du Courage Procure», dont le champion olympique Alexandre Bilodeau sera président d’honneur, cette année. Père de famille, athlète Ironman, Proulx se dédie corps et âme pour cet évènement cycliste qui comptera trois étapes, deux le samedi à Morin-Heights, dans les Laurentides, une finale le dimanche, un contre-la-montre par équipe qui se tiendra sur l’île Notre-Dame à Montréal. (www.tourducourage.com)