2008 Paris – Roubaix

by Matt Chambers, 8th June 2008

This was the “sportive”-type event following the route of the Spring Classic affectionately known as the Hell Of The North. I rode it with Neil and Pat from Wantage CTC, with support from a complete non-cyclist driving a Chrysler Grand Voyager (who had no idea what was going on, and only rarely actually met us at controls).
Neil and I rode our Audaxy bikes (i.e. mudguards’n’rackpacks), and felt rather out of place at the start.

The Ride
Well, the first 50 miles was jolly pleasant. Reminiscent of the early morning sections of PBP, but with much faster bunches to draft.

Then the organisers took us onto some roads made out of muddy slippery cobbles, and I fell in a ditch. Twice. (Someone needed an ambulance later, so I’m not complaining).

Finished the 255km in 14.5 hours (8pm), with various (non-essential) bits dropping off the bike, horrendous hot foot, and a blister from my watch strap. Legs fresh enough to race round the velodrome, but sore wrists and brain cramp.

We counted 2 other bikes with any mudguards. Pat came in very nearly last, wearing a smug grin to go with his mountain bike and ultra-padded bars. Just a smattering of other brits spotted (plus a couple of other ex-PBPers, which cheered me up a bit).

Number of tubes taken: 5
Punctures: none
Toilets: highly variable

I’m glad I did it. Some of it was even fun. But someone is going to have to teach me a lot more bike control on slippy surfaces before I ride it again. Now very tempted to watch the race next year.