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