It is one of the most fascinating sporting events on the planet, and a race near and dear in the hearts of cyclists everywhere.
Paris-Roubaix. Out of the devastated, barren and bloodied landscapes of the First World War, the race earned its nickname not for its savage pave, but its woven ribbon through a part of the world torn asunder by four years of industrialized warfare. When race organizers set about reviving the race, the riders chosen to scout out the route set out into the unknown. They left the suburbs of Amiens not knowing if the roads to Roubaix still existed, or if Roubaix itself still sat in the unspectacular fields well north of Paris.
The mining roads and paths, and some sections of cobbles reportedly ordered built by Napoleon so that he could quickly scuttle troops across his Empire, survive today in sheer spite of modernity. Indeed, paving efforts in the 60s and 70s threatened the survival of the race, with cobbles in Northern France and Belgium being covered, view by community leaders as blights on a modern, new region still shaking off two global conflicts, for which the area served as a highway for armies. Local groups volunteer to maintain the cobbles, and efforts over the past two decades have actually seen a revival of secteurs saved from pavement and even from natural decay.
Some of those famous secteurs- Arenberg, Orchieles, and Mons-en-Pevele among them-are the home to the exploits of heroes ranging back to the 'Bulldog' Belgian Gaston Rebry, Eddy Merckx, Sean Kelly, and, for our more modern audience, showdowns between Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara.
Riding the cobbles perfectly can't be learned; some riders naturally find themselves at home on the incredibly rough surface. It's a role that bigger riders tend to embrace, and one that suits towering figures like the 6'4" Boonen.
Our own Roubaix party will celebrate the race by bringing the community to enjoy one of the most beautiful and cruel races on the calendar, no doubt inspiring us all not only to test ourselves on the infamous There Will Be Blood route, but to enjoy the rigors and challenges of our own terrain for its own charms. Our segments, our climbs, hold a special sort of prestige because they are ours, where our own history is written.
Join us Sunday, April 10 at 9am to watch Paris-Roubaix, with a ride leaving directly after the race on the There Will Be Blood route. We expect the race to end around 10:30am. You can check out the There Will Be Blood route here.