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 Le Tour Race Reports 2005


Stage 1: Kouchibouguac (100 km) July 21, 2005

Stage 1 from Kouchibouguac (100 km) was flown this morning.   It was an ideal day for a flight.  The skies were virtually cloudless, it was perfectly calm and refreshingly cool.  It's amazing what effect a full moon and clear skies have on night time temperatures.  At 6:00 am it was 12 C and at release time (8:00 am) the temperature was in the low teens yet yesterday the high for the day was close to 30 C.  After a 20 minute "orientation wait" the birds were released.  Without circling they immediately flew off in the general direction of home and disappeared over the trees.  They left so quickly I only had time to take one photograph.  They arrived as quickly while I was changing the water.  I just had enough time to point the camera in their general direction and snapped away (the last 3 photographs).  The first bird EURO 1543 enter by Peter Toth clock in 1:40:50 hrs.

Congratulations go out to Peter Toth for his win and everyone else who did well.

The birds will race from the same point tomorrow and then they will receive a few days rest before the first Moncton race.

The previous best time for Kouchibouguac 1 was 1:46:14 hrs.  Lets hope the rest of the season goes this well. 

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Stage 2: Kouchibouguac (100 km) July 22, 2005

EURO 1543 entered by Peter Toth (Euroline Loft) does it again.  The race birds were released at 8:00 in similar weather as yesterday but a few degrees warmer.  When the birds were released they made a couple tight circles in the open field and disappeared over the trees in the direction of home.  On the way home at 8:38 and about 5 minutes north of the Miramichi River (about 70 km from home) I spotted the birds about a kilometer ahead of me crossing the highway in a westerly direction.  I new I was in for a race to beat them home.  I arrived 5 minutes before they did.

The first bird EURO 1543 clocked first for the second time in 1:33:40 hrs.  It is interesting to note that several birds after they landed on the loft flew down to the ground to pick around while others quickly trapped and went to the water immediately. 

The next race from Moncton is schedule for Tuesday July 26th.

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Prize Distribution will be adjusted shortly to reflect the total amount. 





Stage 3: Moncton (200 km) July, 2005

This morning I had a "crowd" at the release point but first to the race. 

The birds were released at 8:50 am in mostly sunny conditions and immediately flew in the direction of home.  At the start the birds had a slight helping wind from the SW but the wind for most of the way home changed to a cross wind of about 15 km.  At home the wind was about the same with gusts.  The first group of about 70 birds arrived on schedule at 11:37, landed immediately and began trapping without hesitation.  A couple minutes later a smaller group of about 30 birds arrived.  Then several smaller groups appeared several minutes apart.  The first bird to trap at 11:37:23 was CUQC 50213 entered by Claude Gascon.

Congratulations go out to Claude and everyone else who did well.  Weather permitting the next race will again be from Moncton (200 km) on Saturday July 30th.

I have been releasing the Le Tour birds from this spot for 10 years and never met the owner of the field until last year.  He was tending to his cows in the adjacent field so I walked over and introduced myself and explained what I was doing.  Joe Connors (sitting on the tailgate with his wife) became very interested in the sport after I explained what the Le Tour was about.  He became very thrilled about the whole idea when he watched his first release.  This past winter he had his daughter, who lives in Bathurst, call me on his behalf and tell me that I was always welcome to use his field and to let him know the next time I would be releasing birds.  A few days ago I asked  Mike Rogers (blue shirt) to make contact with Mr. Connors and tell him that I would be releasing birds on Tuesday.  To my surprise when I arrived at his field he was waiting for me at the gate and had his van full of local elderly residents.  Joe told me that all winter he has been telling everybody in the local community about what he experienced and would have filled the field with spectators if he knew it wouldn't have bothered the birds.  By the way, in August the Rolling Stones will be performing in a field near by.  They will fill the field.  As you can see from the photos the "crowd" seemed to have enjoyed the event.         

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Stage 4: Moncton (200 km) July 30, 2005

The Le Tour team was released at 9:00 am in mostly sunny conditions with a moderate wind blowing from the northwest and a temperature of 15 C.  The birds immediately flew low in the direction of home suggesting the wind may have been stronger higher.  When the birds disappeared in the distance it appeared that they were still in 2 groups but I was too far away to be certain.  On the way home from the flapping flags, I concluded that the winds grew in intensity and more from a westerly direction and when I drove through open areas I could feel it pushing on the truck.  At the Bathurst Airport, Environment Canada reported the winds were from the NW at 17 km.  At the loft which is 10 km west, the gust seemed to be much stronger.  At about 11:30 Water Bombers began shuttling back and forth from the airport to a forest fire west of here.  For a 30 minute period, water bombers and a variety of other small aircraft flew over the loft every 5 minutes.  One bomber flew about 300 m (1000') directly over the loft.  I thought, "this sport has enough adversities now water bombers".

The first group of birds appeared out of the southeast at 12:00.  It was obvious that the wind was effecting their flight because they had to make several short circles to land.  A long minute later a second group appeared directly out of the east and slightly to the north. This group seemed to have even more difficulty negotiating a landing.  For the next hour more birds arrived in small groups then birds arrived mostly in singles throughout the afternoon.

Bob Percival's IND 51784 trapped first at the 3:01:54 hrs after the release.  Congratulations go out to Bob and everyone else that did well.

Stage 5 is scheduled for next Saturday August 6, 2005.  This is the last stage of the sprint portion and therefore the crowning of the Sprint Champion.  Moreover, and not intending to offend anyone's excellent performance to this point, this is were the real racing begins

Note:  This morning's droppings suggest that everything is back to normal.

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Stage 5: New Glasgow (300 km) Aug 06, 2005

Mike Rogers accompanied me to the release site which is about 30 km NW of New Glasgow and close the Sunrise Trail.  We were invited to spend the evening at Dan and Linda Archibald's cottage.  They were wonderful hosts and provided us with an excellent barbequed steak super.  Dan is a recently retired teacher and has just taken up this wonderful sport of pigeon racing.   Of course, Mike and I brought along some vintage Italian "red stuff".   "Dan the Man" also found us an excellent release site nearby at his uncle's farm, Wilbur Frizzell of Denmark, Colchester County.  Thank you Dan, Linda and Wilbur.   As well, I thank Brad and Janine Harsell from Ontario who took some time to visit us on race day while they were vacationing in the area.

The Le Tour team was released at 7:00 am in calm, cool weather and in cloudless skies.  Upon release, the birds immediately flew in the direction of home but first made a couple circles over the trees bordering the hay field and then disappeared.  On the way home throughout Nova Scotia it remained calm; however, as predicted the further we drove into Northern NB the stronger the NW winds blew.  By the time we got home they where approaching 20 km/h  with gusts and by early afternoon the gusts became stronger.  I always worry but by 12:00 I was worrying more watching the tops of the trees bend over.  I thought it would be a fairly tough one and unfortunately for some and including myself, I was right. 

The first group of about 30 birds arrived shortly after 12:20 to be followed by a solo bird and then by a group of 10 a few minutes later.  The first bird to trap was CUQC 50213 entered by Claude Gascon.  As the afternoon wore on many of the later birds had difficulty landing in the wind gusts and had to circle the loft several times before they could negotiate a landing.  The birds continued arriving in various sized groups throughout the afternoon and into the evening as well as the next morning.   The losses were surprisingly low as 104 birds arrived by nightfall and another 16 Sunday morning.  Most of the later birds arrived quite fresh looking and much better than some of the earlier arrivals which makes me suspect there was something else that caused these unusual returns.  If your thinking it's management you are probably right.  But who really knows?  This is pigeon racing and the "Le Tour ain't over til it's over".  Only about 1/3 of the leaders after Stage 4 remained in the top 20 for the sprint portion.  There are 3 races left - a 350, 400 and a grueling 500 km.  I promise you there will be more dramatic changes in the leaders.

Congratulations go out to Claude Gascon for winning the last race of the Sprint Series and to Bill Wieland who won the series with WCW 5529 and everyone else who did well.

The next race from Antigonish 350 km is the beginning of the Long Series and will tentatively be scheduled for next Sunday.  The best of luck to all. 


Birds Remaining

 120/191 = 62.8%

Clocked in all Races

116/191 = 60.7%


Sunset: 20:51:00
Sunrise: 6:08:00




Stage 6: Antigonish (350 km) August 14, 2005

The Le Tour “ain’t over till it’s over” and as they say in the NHL playoffs "this is a new season".  The Long Series of the Le Tour has begun with a tougher than expected race.  It was long day for most of the birds as well as me.

Stage 6 of the Le Tour Des Maritimes 2005 (350 km) was flown this morning.   The Le Tour team was released at 7:10 am in very good weather.  It was cool with a mixture of sun and cloud and almost dead calm.  Upon release the birds immediately flew in the direction of home without circling .

On route to Bathurst, the first 100 km was consistent with the weather at the release point.  However, during the following 100 km on the Trans Canada highway we encountered unexpected fog.  Then within 60 km of the NB border the fog cleared and the conditions were ideal – no wind and a mixture of sun and cloud and cool.  The conditions at home were mostly overcast with a light cloud cover and with virtually no wind.

The first 2 birds, SG 131 & PIFE 0623, arrived in good time and trapped simultaneously at 2:42:33.  However, the clock placed Stan Gawel's SG 131 first.  A half hour later a solo bird arrived to be followed 6 minutes later by a small group of 3 birds.  The birds trickled in throughout the day in singles and small groups.  The largest group of birds to arrive was 8.  By nightfall 45 racers had reached their destination. 

What promised to be an easy race turned out to be a quite challenging one.  The only reason that I could see that may have interfered with the birds on the way home was the fog they encountered an hour or two from the release point.  If this is the case and from what I see in the results, I suspect it was more of a challenge for some than others.

Congratulations go out to both Stan Gawel and Cielos Family Loft for an excellent performance with their birds as they clearly were the 2 best birds on the day by arriving 30 minutes before the next bird.

Stage 7 from the Canso Causeway (400 km) is tentatively scheduled for August 23, 2005. 

Please note the following from the Details of the Le Tour:

RACE SCHEDULE:  Weather permitting, training will begin in early July and the race schedule will start around the middle of July and end the first weekend in September.  The birds will be flown as follows: 2 x 100 km, 2 x 200 km, 300 km, 350 km, 400 km and 500 km for a total of 2150 km.  All races 300 km and over will be considered two-day races.  If less than 50% of the birds shipped to any race do not arrive in race time the race will be extended by one day.  (See race schedule 2005)

As expected, Mike Rogers and I were extended excellent hospitality during our short visit in Antigonish.  We spent the night at the home of Donna and Ken Gavel and we were treated to an excellent barbeque steak supper with the appropriate refreshments.  After super we visited Richard and Judy Schoder to rekindled old acquaintances and inspected the release point and once again with the appropriate refreshments.  This would be the 2nd year that Stage 6 would be released from the Schoder property.  The next morning Judy and Richard treated us to a breakfast before the release.  Mike and I thank the Gavels and the Schoders for their excellent hospitality because you made the long trip very worthwhile. 

% Clocked in last race 70/121 = 57.8 %
Birds Remaining 71/191 = 36.7%
Clocked in all Races 68/191 = 35.6%


Sunset: 20:38:00
Sunrise: 6:30:00





Stage 7: Canso Causeway (400 km) August 26, 2005

A good part of the the trip to Antigonish from Moncton was in rain.  Mike Rogers and I arrived at Ken & Donna Gavel's at 5:00 pm on Thursday.  Their home is about 20 km inland from Antigonish.  Upon arrival, the birds were immediately taken out of the truck and given water.  They were watered several times during the evening and early the next morning.

When we woke up early next morning, the skies in the direction the Canso Causeway were covered with dark ominous clouds.  However, towards Antigonish the skies were clear.  When we arrived at the release point at 7:30, in Havre Boucher just before the Canso Strait, the skies were clearing quickly.

The birds were given water again. Then at 8:00 the birds were released in mostly sunny skies and calm, cool weather.  Without circling they immediately headed towards Prince Edward Island across Georges Bay.  However before they reached the shore we could barely see them hesitate a moment and make a half circle then turn left to follow the coastline of Nova Scotia towards home.

On the way home the conditions were similar throughout NS except for a fog bank around Truro that took about 20 minutes to drive through.  Some parts were quite thick but mostly I could see the sun clearly through it.  Once we approached the NB border the conditions became considerably warmer.  Also the skies were cloudless and it was dead calm all the way to the loft.  We reached home around 1:00.  The temperature was quickly approaching 30 C.  I sensed it would be a long day for most of the birds.

A group of 4 birds (SG 191, CU 4847, CU 30102 & WCW 5527) arrived at 5:23, land immediately and trapped quickly.  Nine more birds, mostly in singles, arrived before nightfall.  A few were so exhausted that they sat on the roof or landing board motionless while they gained some strength to go in.

The next morning the first bird arrived 34 seconds after sunrise followed by a stream of birds arriving mostly in singles.  I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased that another 36 birds arrived the second day.

Congratulations go out to Stan Gawel, Doug Kirkwood, the Team of Tony Alves & Mike Ganus and Bob Wieland for having the first four birds in the drop and to everyone else that got birds in race time.  At this stage of the Le Tour getting birds in race time was an achievement in itself.  For complete results of Stage 7 go to:  STAGE 7


I thank Richard Schoder for providing the last photo taken Monday 29/08/2005.  The photo was taken from the Antigonish release point which is the driveway in front of his house.    

Stage 8 from the Glace Bay (500 km) is tentatively scheduled for early next week.

Sunset: 20:16:00
Sunrise: 6:34:00




Stage 8: Sydney-Glace Bay (500 km) September 3, 2005

The biggest challenge the birds will face from Glace Bay is leaving Cape Breton Island

The Le Tour team was released by Bill Madore in Glace Bay, NS at 7:00 am this morning.  The weather conditions were perfect – maybe too perfect.  It was sunny, cool and with the slight north wind.  In Bill’s words, “when I released the birds they immediately flew off in the direction of home without circling.  I have never seen anything like it before”.

Throughout the course the conditions were similar that morning - temperatures were from the mid low teens to the high teens. 

At about 8:15 a very tired solo blue check hen S’land 1621 entered by Harry Sanders arrived after flying for over 13 hours.  It took some encouragement but she finally trapped at 8:22:03.  Sunset was at 7:56.  There was no evidence on her feet that she went down.  Within an hour this valiant racer recovered and showed few signs of her ordeal.

Congratulations go out to Harry for winning Stage 8 of the Le Tour Des Maritimes 2005 from one of the most difficult release points in Canada.

 The next morning sunrise was at 6:48.  It was very overcast so it was almost as dark as night. At 7:10:47 and still very dark, IND 51783 entered by Bob Percival trapped.  “83” almost made it on the day and I suspect it spent the night on a roof top quite close to home.

Both birds recuperated quickly and are quite lively in the loft.  Just by looking at them it would be hard to believe what they have just accomplished.  These two are tough birds!

By 9:30 the skies cleared quickly.  Only 7 birds arrived the second day for a total of 8 birds. Because less than half the birds shipped arrived by the end of the 2nd day, the race was left open for one more day.

The following day the weather was very similar to yesterday’s.   It was warm, almost dead calm with an occasional slight breeze and cloudless most of the day.  For 2 days I haven’t seen a wild bird flying or heard any song birds singing.  The predicted high was for 28 C and sunny.  Only 3 birds arrived the 3rd day for a total of 11 birds.  Glace Bay Results.

I as well as many participating fanciers were disappointed at the results for the last race; however, 1 bird did make it on the day and 7 more on the second day with 5 trapping by dinner time.  The last 4 races 300km, 350 km, 400 km and 500 km of the Le Tour series were the toughest that I can remember. 

What really happened release day will remain speculation.  Some birds arrived with red sand on their feet which suggests that they went down on Prince Edward Island and some didn't even leave Cape Breton and were reported found in several locations throughout Cape Breton Island.  Two weeks later one bird was reported in Newfoundland.  It is 160 km as the ferry goes from Sydney to          Port-aux-Basques.

I have me theory. 

Map of the Course   Provided by Nelson Paw

September 3, 2005
Sunset: 19:56:00

September 4, 2005

Sunrise: 6:48:00
Sunset: 19:54:00
September 5, 2005
Sunrise: 6:49:00
Sunset: 19:52:00








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