It's the year's best one-day spectacle. Cobblestones, collisions, mud, and blood The Paris-Roubaix race, dubbed "the Hell of the North," is a race that riders both love and despise.
Paris-Roubaix is a public road (mostly used by farmers), and you can ride it whenever you want. The Arenberg Trench is no longer open to motor traffic, but cyclists are welcome to use it. The route is a bumpy 257.5-kilometer (160-mile) ride from Paris's northwestern outskirts to Roubaix, near the Belgian border, but how do you navigate one of the world's most bizarre cycling routes? Follow these tips to make riding more comfortable when you encounter bumps and rough roads you'll encounter.
One of the first things to consider when riding cobblestones is your bike and how it can be made more comfortable for the stress you are about to put it and yourself through.
1. The pavers are large, bumpy, and uneven. They're usually wet and slippery, making steering difficult and bike control shaky. Pavers have razor-sharp edges that puncture tyres without hesitation. Riding vibration causes your teeth to rattle, your vision to blur, and your hands and feet to be battered. Turbulence can be combated with latex tubes, which are more puncture resistant. For maximum comfort, use a 25-width tyre in the front (or the widest tyre that fits) and a 28-width tyre in the rear.
2. Road shock strikes the feet and wrists as it travels up from the tyres. Some racers recommend inserting a second insole, but you'd be lucky if the shoe fits. Otherwise, focus your attention on your wrists. Special gel pads, which can be purchased at most bike shops, provide suitable comfort. Take it a step further by applying plaster tape to each individual middle knuckle to prevent them from rubbing against each other.
3. Seeing as cobblestones are rebellious by nature, the best thing to do is to be firm on the handlebars but loose elsewhere. Maintain a relaxed grip on your handlebars and don't try to fight the bike into submission: you'll lose.
4. Purchase a used gravel or cycle-cross bike designed to handle rough roads and terrain, or modify an old road bike lying around the garage. This way, if you fall, you won't be concerned if your bike gets a little scuffed. Just don't buy anything you want to keep in pristine condition, because if you're new to riding on bumpy roads, expect a digger.
5. Cobblestones are not the place to be hesitant, so being up front can be extremely beneficial. If you've ever watched Paris-Roubaix, you'll notice teams fighting for a spot at the front of the pack before entering the paver sections. Being in the lead keeps you from being knocked down by other riders.
6. Finally, it's a good idea to bring along a cycling buddy, especially if they're experienced on this surface. They can be a great source of advice, information, and experience, and if you suffer a mechanical or an injury, it is nice to have somewhere to turn to for assistance.
Cycling on cobblestones or any other slick wet surface is always a challenge, but it's a fun, thrilling challenge that will make you a better bike or mountain bike rider.
Matter of fact, riding on any cobblestone requires training all year round. Here are some indoor training tips to keep you in top condition.
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