We already know for a long time the challenge of the Pedalea o Revienta guys set for this year, one of the five classic road race known as “Monuments”, the famous and rough Paris – Roubaix (L’Enfer du nord).
The extreme hardness of the terrain and be the race with the most kilometers of cobblestones is what makes this race unique and one of the most complicated classic.
It consists of 260 km with 30 cobblestone sections totaling 54 km. The sections are classified by stars, from less to more, with 5 stars regarded as the hardest according the path, distance and pavé status.
Friday, 10th of July
A total of 22 people (9 riders, 2 cameras, 2 photographers, 9 persons of staff) and 4 vans we met up at about 6.30am to load and organize all the equipment (material and personnel). Once ready, having distributed the staff and the corresponding distribution of official merchandising of Pedalea o Revienta and other sponsors (thanks guys!) we were ready to start the trip and my first adventure with this gang of thugs.
After 14h drive in very good company and a few turns more, we reached our destination, tired but motivated to tackle this challenge.
Saturday, 11th of July
At 5 am the alarm went off, breakfast, material preparation, vans distribution, stretching together and Go! We went to Compiègne to start one of the classic adventures of cycling, the Paris – Roubaix is waiting for us.
About 09:30am and, after a last minute unforeseen, the guys began to pedal without being 100% of the grueling day ahead.
Troisvilles – Inchy (Distance: 2,2 km / Category: 3 stars)
After going all over the first 98.5 km of the journey, we found the first section of pavé, Troisvilles – Inchy. The riders and were eager to step on the field and experience the sensations that some of the greatest in the Spanish cycling as Miquel Poblet and Juan Antonio Flecha experienced in their day.
3.2 … 1, allez c’est parti! We went into the first section of cobblestones and the guys did a good pace, trying to control the bike, experiencing firsthand the poor state of pavé and above swallowing a lot of dust (everybody swallow dust even the staff in the vans). At the end of the section the feeling was “Ouf, so hard and so much dust, but wanting for more!”. There were some mechanical problems, Fran had too low tire pressure and the Oli’s handlebars was moved due to the bustle, lol.
Viesly – Quiévy (Distance: 1,8km / Category: 3 stars)
Then, at km 105, we got the second section, with a better state of the cobblestones, some of them were encouraged and increased the pace and ahead of the bunch alone, as was the case of Kirian, who exhibited his mountain biker skill and he looked more comfortable on the cobblestones.
Quiévy – St Python (Distance: 3,7km / Category: 4 stars)
It known as the Édouard Delberghe section (a professional French cyclist from Viesly). This section was headed by Fran maximum concentrated and setting a good pace despite its hardness.
At km 114 we stopped for lunch in Solesmes and reunion with the fourth van that had a mechanical problem and, fortunately, they could fix; Brazo de Hierro came back to the best moment because the best sections are going to come after lunch.
Vertain – St Martin-sur-Écaillon (Distance: 2km / Category: 3 stars)
After an hour and ten minutes (km 120,5), we began the second part of the cobbled sections; the fifth section, Vertain – St Martin-sur-Écaillon.
Dani, Oli and Simonet headed the bunch until Kirian appeared and took them up the slack with Simonet and Peter and Roger following them. In the end Kirian and Roger alone were giving everything in the middle of the dust. Fran got a flat tire in this section; something not so strange due to the terrible state of the cobblestones.
Looking at the pace on this section, the evening promised to be great, surely the fried rice for lunch gave those wings.
Verchain Maugré – Quérénaing (Distance: 1,6km / Category: 3 stars)
At km 130 began the seventh section, very short and fast with no escape and no notable incident. Only we were swallowing dust as ever.
Quérénaing – Maing (Distance: 2,5km / Category: 3 stars)
We connected with another section, the only one where upward gradient and where happened many things.
Fran led the group for a while, until Kirian and Roger took the relay followed by Nino, which began to wheel riding on the dirt road side; Simonet led alone the ride pedaling to the death on the cobblestones area for a long time, suffering the inexplicable, but thinking “no pain”; then he got ahead of Nino on the dirt road side, until Nino got flat the front tire and finished the section in a duet with Kirian.
The recording and provisioning van stayed with Nino to change the wheel while the others were about to start the ninth section.
Maing – Monchaux-sur-Écaillon (Distance: 1,6km / Category: 3 stars)
Entering the ninth section, Nino got flat a tire again, but this time the rear wheel. You could see in his face a mixture of bad mood and frustration.
With this new stop we lost the others but after the repair, with great courage, head and legs by Nino, got a slipstream of the van and rode to a brutal pace until reaching the bunch. To highlighting the Nino gesture, after the extra effort that he had to do, he was kind enough to take water for his teammates, Great Nino!
Trouée d’Arenberg (Distance: 2,4km / Category: 5 stars)
Arriving at km 158 we began the tenth section, considered one of the three hardest and the most symbolic section of the Paris – Roubaix, the Trouée d’Arenberg. This section cross a portion of St Amand Wallers forest and as a curiosity, the cobblestones are from the time of Napoleon, that’s the cause of they are in such bad shape. It is a traffic closed section, but for Pedalea o Revienta there are no limits and we entered with the recording and provisioning van, without thinking; in fact it was worth it, because the guys began to hurry up in this mythical section with toughest pavés. Fran and Oli left alone and setting a good pace until Roger took over Oli, while others went through the side (dirt road). Dani and Simonet decided to join the group still suffering vibration throughout the body caused by these cobblestones.
Finally Simonet stayed alone because Roger had to stop due to a cramp. The entire group stopped while Ivan (physio) massaged Roger, but in my point of view, everyone needed a massage after the shaky that they suffered. After a few minutes they started again in bunch which was led by Kirian.
Looking at the time (19:15), it was decided to make only two sections more of pavé and go directly to the Velodrome. The pity is that we could not do the other two legendary sections Mons-en-Pévèle and Le Carrefour de l’Arbre.
Wallers – Hélesmes (Distance: 1,6 km / Category: 3 stars)
Immediately afterwards we joined the eleventh section (km 164), taking the direction to the section 24th and last for the guys.
Camphin-en-Pévèle (Distance: 1,8km / Category: 4 stars)
We reached the section known as “Pavé la Justice” at km 239; this section is characterized by an L-shape, it ends with a curve to the right rather closed and the last 50m are downhill. There we saw Kirian and Nino and setting the pace with Fran giving everything. Nino finally led and then became a duel between Kirian and Nino ended in a draw reaching the final curve of the section together.
With this section the guys and staff said goodbye to the pavés to go towards Roubaix, where the legendary Velodrome d’André Pétrieux was waiting for us. There were only 15km and I think they were the fastest that we made throughout the whole trip, lol.
At 22:30 we arrived in Roubaix, rather, at the Velodrome d’André Pétrieux where the whole gang made their grand entrance with a few laps to the velodrome culminating their latest challenge the legendary Paris-Roubaix, after many months of preparation, effort, and how could it be otherwise, a good adventure with friends.
First thanks to all the sponsors who have helped make this project possible, without them we could not do it: Ajrambikes, Moritz, Underbike, Vicenç Moreto, Pipe Residents, Lucky Basterds, Barceloneta Bikes, Pacific & Co, Slastik, El Huerto de la Casita, Nutrisport, 8bar, La Ville du Roubaix, RAW Cycling Mag, Thelema Artworks, Brazo de Hierro, Lobulo, Cristaynfletcher, Sportful and Mecenas (crowdfunding campaign).
Secondly I want to thank the whole team of Pedalea o Revienta (members and staff) for giving me the opportunity as a member of RAW Cycling Mag to share and experience firsthand this adventure. Hopefully we can continue to tell this and those coming up in the future (ideally without so much dust, lol!)
Finally congratulate the nine brave who reached the challenge giving everything to the end, despite some setbacks, did not fail to be motivated and showed that in this life if one aims to achieve something, it can be possible. Congratulations guys!