Orica-GreenEDGE’s Mitch Docker and Fumy Beppu give us their top 5 tips for riding over the cobbles:

  • Double tape your bars and don’t grip too tight
  • Reliable, strong, 32-spoke old school wheels
  • 28mm tyres at 6 bar (87 psi)
  • Sit back on the saddle and let the front wheel coast
  • Ride the smoothest line, either along the side or straight down the middle

Paris-Roubaix Challenge

December 14, 2011


Here’s Rapha’s video from their Paris-Roubaix recce ride in early March 2011, ahead of the the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Challenge. Next year I’m riding the VC Roubaix sportive in June. Can’t wait…

A little video from Specialized looking at Fabian Cancellara’s 2010 Paris-Roubaix win. Doesn’t really go behind the scenes or tell us anything we didn’t already know, it’s just nice to watch.

What we know so far.

The route from Saint-Quentin to the velodrome in Roubaix will be 162km with the first 147km to Carrefour de l’Arbre is timed and on closed roads. The last 15km will be on open roads and not timed.

There will be 31.6km of pavé over 18 sectors including the three-star Chemins des Prières, Mons en Pévèle and of course Carrefour de l’Arbre, both rated five stars. This is all according the event’s site. It was confirmed in late December that the five-star Tranchée d’Arenberg would be included in the pro race so I can’t see why we wouldn’t be tackling it too the day before. However, the official race site says we’ll only be riding the last 16 (not 18) of the 31 pavé sectors the pros will cover.

I certainly hope that there has been a mistake otherwise we miss Arenenberg!

This is what the pros will be doing:

31. 98km Troisvilles à Inchy 2,200m
30. 104.5km Viesly à Quiévy 1,800m
29. 107.5km Quiévy à Saint-Python 3,700m
28. 112km Saint-Python 1,500m
27. 120km  Vertain à St-Martin-sur-Ecaillon 2,300m
26. 126.5km Capelle-sur-Ecaillon à Ruesnes 1,700m
25. 137km. Artres à Préseau 1,900m
24. 142.5km Aulnoy-lez-Valenciennes – Famars 2,600m
23. 146km Famars à Quérénaing 1,200m
22. 149.5km Quérénaing à Maing 2,500m
21. 152.5km Maing à Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon 1,600m
20. 164km Haveluy à Wallers 2,500m
19. 172.5km Trouée d’Arenberg 2,400m
18. 179km Millonfosse à Bousignies 1,400m
17. 183.5km Brillion à Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes 1,100m
16. 186.5km Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières 2,400m
15. 192.5km Beuvry-la-forêt à Orchies 1,400m
14. 197.5km Orchies  1,700m
13. 204km Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée 2,600m
12. 209.5km Mons-en-Pévèle 3,000m
11. 215.5km Mérignies à Avelin 700m
10. 218.5km Pont-Thibaut à Ennevelin 1,400m
9. 224km Templeuve – L’Epinette 200m
8. 224.5km Templeuve – Moulin-de-Vertain 500m
7. 231km Cysoing à Bourghelles 1,300m
6. 234km Bourghelles à Wannehain 1,100m
5. 238.5km Camphin-en-Pévèle 1,800m
4. 241km Carrefour de l’Arbre 2,100m
3. 243.5km Gruson 1,100m
2. 250km Willems à Hem 1,400m
1. 257km Roubaix 300m

Staying focused over winter

December 30, 2010

I’m so glad the snow has melted and we can get out into the lanes again. I was finding it all too easy to stay indoors and skip a scheduled training session when there was so much snow and ice around. My biggest motivator to either get out there or onto the indoor trainer is to look at the calendar. So far, I’m committing to three big rides and one fun one next year plus a week in southern Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountains with Vamos Cycling to prepare for it all.

My key cycling events for 2011:

  • Feb: Training week
  • Apr: 260km Tour of Flanders Sportive
  • Apr: 165km Paris-Roubaix Challenge
  • Jun: 200km Dragon Ride
  • Jul: 180km Dunwich Dynamo

The overnight Dunwich Dynamo is obvious the fun ride. I’ve ridden the past four editions and wouldn’t miss it for the world. The Tour of Flanders Sportive and Paris-Roubaix Challenge are on successive weekends so I’d better be in great shape to do well in them. There is a shorter version of Flanders (150km) which includes most of the main route’s climbs and pavé sectors that I may opt for if my preparation hasn’t been ideal. Lastly, I’d like to include a few local sportives to break up the rest of the year. SWRC’s May Flyer looks promising, as does the Castle Ride 100 but after such an intense start to the year, it may be nice to relax over summer and just enjoy our weekly club rides in the North Downs.

The key to getting over the cobbles is power. You need to be able to keep your speed up so you’re clipping over rather than bouncing off the cobbles. Maintaining a high gear will help you to keep your power up and not spinning out when your rear wheel slips.

Here are a few other things I’ve found make the ride easier:

  • Metal bottle cages folded in for an extra tight grip so you don’t lose them on the first sector
  • Gel inserts under your bar tape makes it easier to hold your bars loosely and guide rather than steer your front wheel
  • Regular double (not compact) chainset is better for keep the power up over the cobbles and then cruising at a decent speed on the flat sections
  • Handmade 32 spoke wheels with spokes at 80% tension help absorb the vibrations
  • Near new tyres, 25mm front at 90 psi, 28mm rear at 80 psi
  • Bigger seat pack for tubes (x3), patches, tyre boots, tyre levers, CO2 cannisters, multi-tool, chain link and gear cable
  • Top tube box for extra bars or gels if you’re doing the long route as relying on unfamiliar feed stop provisions might see you visiting the toilet more often than you want to
  • Laminated pavé list for easy reference along the route helps you prepare for what’s ahead
  • Metal bike frame although carbon is bound to fine as long as you don’t crash

Anything I’ve forgotten?

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