This step by Juan Ayuso and Carlos Rodríguez is definitive

The trip to Roubaix is ​​at the same time a trip to the past, to the origins of cycling

10 years ago, in 2014, Roubaix was in fashion. In fact he does it every year, he never stops being on the crest of the wave. But something new happened: that year the Tour de France introduced a stage with 9 paved sections, common in the classic. And it is already known that the Tour can do anything and is capable of making or sinking whatever it proposes.

For us, Roubaix had always been a pending stage, a mandatory destination that had yet to be crossed off. The trip to Roubaix is ​​at the same time a trip to the past, to the origins of cycling.

Like flashes, the photos evoke memories of the long weekend we spent there, in the north of France, playing with Belgium. Memories that will not be easy to erase.

This is the little visual story of our trip to Roubaix to conquer the cobblestones.

Johan Museeuw, the lion of Flanders

Bar Le Pave right in front of the entrance to the velodrome. Five in the afternoon on the Friday before Paris Roubaix. Cyclists from all over Europe attend the gathering and beer in that mythical place. Especially many Belgians.

I remember it like it was now, watching it so many times on television, fighting with a muddy face. The day of Mapei’s treble, the day of his injury after the fall in Arenberg in 1998the day, two years later, that with the Domo jersey, he reconciled with Paris Roubaix and won it, showing his recovered knee to the world.

I seem to recognize it. I look at the photos of the winners that adorn the walls of the Bar and confirm my suspicions. It’s Johan Museum. With a few extra kilos and with a red face from the occasional beer. A living myth. It’s you? It’s me. A picture? Of course!

Once again the bicycle festival that is Roubaix is ​​manifested in all its fullness. Former winners return once a year, have a few beers, are recognized and for a few moments the glory seems to return. Only a few minutes later he returns to reality when we see him driving away alone in a car labeled with the image of a cycle tour that he organizes in the month of June.
A photo that is more than just a photo of a living myth with fans.

Roubaix bicycles

Preparing your bike to go to Roubaix is ​​an adventure. Each one listens, reads, watches, investigates, and finally prepares the bicycle. In my case I did not go with the “main” bicycle, since I did not want to make it suffer and go through the bad times of the cobblestone sections. I took an old bike, put double tape on the handlebars, put 26 mm tires on it and inflated the wheels to a moderate pressure going low (5.5 kilos or 6 at most)… and little else. I already discovered another thing about the first section of pavés: you must have bottle cages in good condition that hold the bottles well. Otherwise, after the first section of pavés you will have already lost them. Hundreds of cans on the cobbled sections attest that I was not the only one who lost a can.

But Going to Roubaix is ​​not only about preparing the bike but also about preparing all the material and clothing properly.. Don’t forget gloves, and I was there to run without gloves. How could someone run without glasses in a dusty Roubaix in which dry, spring-like weather was forecast. And I forgot the glasses. The organization also recommended carrying 5 spare cameras for what might happen. This is not every Sunday outing, here the risk of puncture is almost 100%. And if we mix punctures and falls, surely there is no group that would go home without any of them.

All that is also the experience of racing in Roubaix. In the photo we see a bicycle at the end of the route, with a good dose of dust and dirt. On the horizontal tube you can see the sticker that the organization gave to keep in mind at all times during the route which sections of pavement were. Very good initiative and a great “cheat”.

The Arenberg Forest

Arenberg is the first section rated five stars or maximum difficulty. In the cycling test the section is timed so that whoever wants to can measure themselves against the others.

The atmosphere at the Arenberg is special. Both the day of the cycle tour and the day of the professional race. The passage of the cyclist through the most famous cobbled section becomes torture for the inexperienced. An endless straight stretch of 2.4 km with uneven cobblestones that do not allow you to pick up any speed.

The day of the professional test It is one of the places with the most atmosphere of the entire test. A VIP area at the end of the stretch where important people can see what is happening from a privileged position. There is no room for anyone else, if someone wants to have a little visibility.

Especially a lot of Belgians around us. Also English (dressed in the Rapha Style) and even an American couple who have taken advantage of the holidays to see all the spring classics. The cycling culture they have is surprising, coming from where they come from!

In the photos we can see the irregular cobblestones that characterize Arenberg. Another name that is already written in the legend of our sport.

The anachronism of Roubaix

An image reflects so many things… Anachronism we said? How can you understand that in such a super-professionalized career, where there is so much money at stake, we find a character like that?

A van or an old motorcycle left a trail of oil on the Arenberg paves the night before Paris-Roubaix. The solution does not involve sophisticated machinery capable of cleaning the route and fixing the mess. The solution is for one of the “Amis de la Paris Roubaix” in a van, probably in worse condition than the one that left the trail of oil, to launch saws that dry up the oil a few hours before the runners pass. All very old, very rural, very…authentic.

In the photo we can see the character who was in charge of such an important task. Important because if it weren’t for that work many professional cyclists could have fallentraveling at high speed there, exactly along the “donkey’s back” of the road, along the spine of the road, through the center.

Will continue…

By Claudio Montefusco

2024-04-06 16:10:59
#step #Juan #Ayuso #Carlos #Rodríguez #definitive

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