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Photo: Joe Hall
Paris-Roubaix is an easy race to fall in love with from the comfort of an armchair. The Queen of the Classics' appeal is visceral, with the cobbles demanding their pound of flesh and the mud-caked faces & haunted eyes belonging to someone else.
The history of the area is tangible, made up of towns that lend their name to First World War battles and the squat, muscular shapes of Second World War bunkers which fleck the windswept landscape. The clichéd comparisons seem facile but are apt, it’s an attritional ride and each sector wears you down. To survive it was enough for me, to race it… unbelievable.
Riding into the first sector causes bottles to leap from cages bent tight the previous night, hands flinch back from the hoods to the tops and against your will slowly begin to contract like a vice. It takes a conscious effort to relax, to get behind the gear and push. Get the head up & the eyes looking beyond the rider in front, hunt for the smooth line. The sanctuary of the draft takes on a sinister dimension.
Is this the best line? Can they be trusted not to fall off in front of me?
The world contracts beyond the peloton, the cobbles become yours to suffer alone.
As it was largely dry I hunted for the solace of the gutter, God knows what you do in the wet. Le Carrefour de l’Arbre (the last real sector) lacks a gutter and the cobbles litter the track, seemingly discarded there as a half-hearted afterthought, it’s a complete shit.
Francesco Moser has the best advice I’ve come across for Paris Roubaix: “_Be strong, ride in front and have a little luck_” If it rains with 4000 people on the parcours you’ll need a lot of the final attribute. Pay as much attention to the preparation of your bike as your body. Loctite bolts, tighten spokes and ride light, tiptoe across the stones, don’t wake the beast…
If I was in love before, I’m infatuated now.
- RT @rapharacing: A Rapha travel set is up for grabs in Alpe D'Quiz today, featuring a luxurious Rapha Skincare bundle and Wash Bag. → http:…
- Somewhat late to the party, but be sure to check out the film to the recent Gentlemen's Race in… http://t.co/RMZUDuxWRc
- A Rapha travel set is up for grabs in Alpe D'Quiz today, featuring a luxurious Rapha Skincare bundle and Wash Bag. → http://t.co/3n8XlqiNYq
- Cool to see our friends @chriskingbuzz representing in the mix of the elite men's race. #mycielo Parbo! http://t.co/L8g8gNofyR
- The masked man on the cyclocross course today was @jeremypowers. It was that cold. http://t.co/KztIjCYu4O
- Calm and confident on the snow - Katerina Nash is off to an early lead. http://t.co/8TynNP7Nho
- Mr. McDonald's tire choice for today's snowy conditions. Can you guess his PSI? http://t.co/2iHgOw6sUw
- They reopened the ice covered fly-over here in Bend. http://t.co/6xOs5BSd0W
- River City Bicycles racer Ryan (Dream) Weaver 2_wicked_awesome powered his way to a chilly 2nd in the… http://t.co/HDDjDnS99w
- Meanwhile over in Bend, Oregon it is a bright, crisp day for cyclocross racing. http://t.co/6lcDQK5UNX