Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Roubaix has held a special place in my heart since I raced my MTB there in the Paris Roubaix VTT in 2000 and '02. Back then, 5 stages held over 2 days and 280km attracted some of the best MTBers in the world on the same weekend as the Queen of the Classics.

I think the second time I did it, it rained and was gruesome. Snippets of it stick in my mind: racing through towns in a 400-strong MTB peleton with Bart Brentjens at the helm which was the first time I really experienced the Belgian passion for spectating. Being reduced to actual tears of frustration trying to wrestle with the Carrefore De L'Arbre in the cold and wet. Passing Jody Crawforth's feet as he lay unconscious in a bush on a canal path. Being in the famous Roubaix Velodrome as Museuw crossed the line pointing to his knee. Being hoisted (as the smallest) up a lamp post to nick the Paris Roubaix '1km to go' sign which now hangs aloft above a friend's stairs. Sitting at dinner opposite Bart B and Rune Hoydal (sic?).

I've since been back to do the bi-annual sportive and smahes myself into a state of paralysis over 190km. Last weekend we got to go back and do the ASO Paris Roubaix Challenge which, at 130km was less of a 'challenge' but I was keen to arrive back in a fit state to train and race straight away so I wasn't unhappy about the cut distance.

The sun shone (we got burnt) and we cruised round with minimal fuss. No dramas. I've raced there twice and smashed 27 setcors so didn't feel the need to kill it; just enjoy the day. I imparted much wisdom to those new to the pave about what to do to their bikes and what to take and promptly disposed of my own advice and left my bike as it was when I got it out on Friday morning... I recently got hold of some new hoops for some of the preparation rides, but more on that later.

Some pics of the big boys when we were getting frazzled on the Carrefore De L'Arbre.

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