ProCyclingUK 2024 Logo Alternate

Paris – Roubaix Challenge 2013 – An Experience and a Lesson… Part 1 – Preparation

Paris Roubaix Sportive 2018 Medal

I wrote a series of 3 posts onto my Facebook detailing my experiences of the Paris – Roubaix Challenge Sportive in 2013. By request and because it would give a good insight of what not to do for people attempting it this year (and onwards), I’m going to post the three parts in full over the next 3 days.

We start with Preparation

How to Prepare Your Bike

Good ideas involve cutting up sponge and putting it up the handlebar tubes, Bontrager BzzKill bar end plugs, double wrapped handlebar tape with Raleigh special foam midde strips, shove a sponge up your seat tube and fit a new saddle.

In actual fact…may as well not even have bothered. The cobbles are brutal, if only for their length rather than actual bumpiness. Best idea I saw on the ride, near to Roubaix, seemed to be putting genuine wine corks up your bar ends….he seemed comfortable enough whereas my fingers currently don’t work.

That little squeak at the start of a ride telling you your bottom bracket is dying….will be come a fully fledged creak and grind after 160km. (2014 me knows that this was a crank’s square hole fitting wearing itself into a loose circle)

Make sure your saddle is at a 45 degree angle…like a Concorde nose, this will improve comfort and rider positioning.

Also make sure your remove your front derailleur, this will only cause issues later on when you need to change chainrings….added advantage also in saving weight!

How to Prepare Yourself

I took the chance a week before to go play on some of Norwich’s cobbled streets which would’ve been perfect if the brutally difficult street was much longer or the long section was remotely difficult. Soon turned out that Norwich wasn’t much help mainly because their cobbles don’t go on long enough compared to the ones on the way to Roubaix.

On the morning of the ride, make sure you get to Breakfast nice and early…you definitely don’t want to arrive last minute, fill up a bowl of muesli and then find there’s no milk. Bright minds however realised that the coffee machine gives out milk and filled it up from there. Disappointingly, the coffee machine gives out hot milk and somewhat ruined my muesli. Advice, wake up earlier.

Should be a given, but remember to pick up your cycling shoes before leaving the hotel room…preparation is not helped by having to run back up the stairs when you realise how much of an idiot you’ve been.

Definitely, and this should be number one really, definitely remember to fill up water bottles before the ride otherwise you may struggle on the first 50km until the feed station. Makes carrying the massive tub of drink powder to France somewhat irrelevant if you neglect to bother with water. Filling up after 50km was not the last of this issue before getting to Roubaix….

Saint Quentin
Saint Quentin