Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Paris-Roubaix 2013

Smile for the camera
I rode this last year and had a blast. It was the day after Tour of Flanders which meant I'd ridden 260km on Saturday at a fairly quick speed and had 155km on Sunday over cobbles. It was a race and on closed roads. I was trying to get to one of the classics this year and had unfinished business with Leige Bastion Leige. ( the weather was horrible in 2012). No cheap flights to Nederlands and a per chance conversation with Adan who I met at last years Paris Roubaix meant a flight to Brussels to go back and ride again.

A change since last year means its a sportive rather than a race. So no closed roads and police motorbikes escorting you through town and villages and yellow Mavic cars with wheels. It also means that because of this why do the long event and have to worry about a car 180km away one your done riding your bike.

We left Brussels at 5am for the quick trip and it was still dark getting our numbers. Not to many people about and just starting to get light. A rather cold grey day and had to wear my warmest clothes again. The first 50km was completely uneventful and nothing but a cold grey day and a bit of wind. Not even a single cobble.

We knew we were near the Arenberg forest but we turned right and bang we were on the pave...Adan flew past me and I started to wonder what the noise was from the front of the bike. That would be the rim hitting the cobbles quite hard. I think it lasted till the bridge about 300 metres in and realised that the front was flat. It wasn't till I stopped that I noticed back was flat too. I think I rode through the only photo point with two flat tyres...

Only one flat at this point.  The next one must have happened within the next 50 meters...
 Lots of cursing and swearing I swapped both tubes with numb hands and got on my way again. 25 mins lost to pinch flats. Adan came back to look for me and I rode with him. I took the 2nd set of cobbles very slowly knowing that I did not have enough air in my tyres. We stopped at the next feed stop and I borrowed the Mavic pump and brought two more tubes. I made sure that I put more air in the tyres than I had at the start.  I found out later I was using the same prseeure as Canceralla which just shows clinchers are rubbish on rough roads...

I guess there was not a lot to report after this. Big cobbles, small cobbles, huge hunks out of the roads in places and a lot of hard work. Cue a normal road just so you can regain some feeling in your hands before hitting the cobbles again. I'm still amazed a road bike and take such punishment and be OK to ride afterwards.

I left Adan at maybe 110km and set off to pursue Stein. Didn't think I'd catch him but worth a shot. Cue the last 30 km going at near top speed and passing a lot of riders. Finished in good shape and didn't have anyone sitting on me like last year.

All in all a good day. Preferred the year before when it was a point to point race and the roads were closed. It just made a more complete course and because it was a race you were inclined to put more effort in. I'd also forgotten how hard the cobbles are and especially the great flat plains with crosswinds. The biggest disappointment was just how many mountain bikes there were. It's a road race you numpties!!! Get a road bike or stay off the sacred Roubaix roads.

The track.  A happy hunting ground in my youth...
On Sunday back near Brussels we went for a lovely 50km relaxed ride. Awesome time had and I've never seen so many riders out on bikes. Apparently that was a quiet day. Finishing at 11am was a novelty and then two Belgium Trappist beers before lunch was a luxury.

Many thanks to Adan and family and Stein for hosting me and having such an awesome weekend.

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