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Heaven and Hell
Photos: Kieran Riley
WORDS: Matthew Berry
On Sunday, I witnessed the junior race, marvelling at the grimy, bruised young riders skittering over the cobbles at speed. How much smoother their passage seemed compared to my own the day before, on the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Challenge. My bike had banged and rattled its way over the pavé, the bike feeling very different even after the first section. I’d been advised to hit it hard and keep a loose-ish grip on the bars. And I did hit it hard, maybe too hard. It was a slow and uncomfortable progress. On the next section, I went down a few gears and found my technique; I flew, although some flew faster. As much as possible I stuck in the gutter, occasionally hopping on to the crown of the road for a smoother passage, or to pass a slower rider. I enjoyed it , I really did, there was something about finding a way, wanting to perfect it. Who knows, I could get good at this.
Lessons for next time include a proper meal the evening before the ride - I’m sure the pros weren't riding on Chicken McNuggets. A proper breakfast too, maybe. And possibly ease off on the wheel sucking; the rider who slowed bizarrely at the end of the first section, and I mean escalator style, almost took me out.
A few other random observations made from Rapha’s roving race HQ on the day of the pro race:
• The sad sight of the minibuses following the junior race, the dejected looks of disqualified and abandoned riders, sitting in the back on show to all.
• The pro race rider rattling past on a bike minus its saddle.
• The loud, drunk (and spotty) teenage Chavanel supporters.
• The Paris-Roubaix Challenge: dread beforehand; relief and pride afterwards; even some enjoyment during.
• Paris-Roubaix, the real thing: the huge sense of anticipation and searching the sky for the helicopters; the thrill of the race, the raucous crowd, the dust and Fabian looking huge and handsome; sharing our individual takes on the race over frites and under-the-counter beer, before heading home in our different directions.
• Did anyone else see the Boney M-man? Or was it cobble-induced delirium?
- The #raphaprestige story is up. Film by @WEREHAUS, photos from Brian Vernor & story by @krasniakjulie ::http://t.co/YtCARBlXee
- Clancy takes the win in the Tour series in Aberystwyth.
- @alainrumpf sorry for late reply. Comprehensive site is http://t.co/gBvpR134lP. As Udo Bölts once said, 'quäl' dich, du Sau!' Enjoy!
- On Friday May 31st, Rapha will be hosting a ride from Rapperswil-Jona on the banks of Lake Zurich. More info to follow next week on rapha.cc
- Boss. Norwegian national champion's replica jersey and bib shorts now at rapha.cc. http://t.co/fpyjc3PeiM
- As the #Giro begins to climax, @herbiesykes looks at one of its long-established traditions—the one-stage wonder. → http://t.co/mydWSIHSrT
- @clotho_nor Hi Christopher, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do. Thanks.
- The Tour Series continues tonight in Aberystwyth. Last year Kristian House took his second win of the series there.
- UK: We are hosting a @letapedutour evening on 14th June in London to provide detailed advice on what to expect. → http://t.co/2gP5KRi8fX
- Churchill → http://t.co/5yhkiupJAH #raphasurvey #wayfaring #cycling