The pain and glory of Paris-Roubaix

Last week I suggested that RVV is nothing more than a gigantic Easter Egg hunt.

This week I would like to suggest that after overdosing on copious amounts of chocolate , Paris-Roubaix was created as a form of self flagellation.

This is what you do to yourself when you have gorged yourself on chocolate Easter Eggs and now you must be punished for such reckless over indulgence.

This 260 odd kilometer ride through Northern France is grueling and punishing. The organisers are so kind, they even churn the ground next to the narrow, disused cobbled roads so that the riders don’t feel the urge to stop punishing themselves by riding off the cobbles. How thoughtful.

So much of the hype leading up to the race, centres on how this race is not only one of the most original and unique sporting events in the world, but how it is one of the harshest, physically and mentally.

There is no doubt that this is the case.

BUT.

I’m beginning to think that Paris-Roubaix is actually a wonderful way for male pro-cyclists to get in touch with their inner woman.

Yep, this is how men choose to send a message of solidarity to their lovely lady companions.

‘Girls we can’t give birth, but hey, we’ll do all we can to attempt to put our bodies and minds through pain on a similar, although not quite there, level.’

And it’s not just the participants joining in this solidarity. This is also why men love to watch the race and lap up all of the pre race hype about how this is the hardest, most grueling event on two wheels.

Personally, this sense of camaraderie, oneness and love between the sexes fills me with joy and warmth at being a member of such a great species.

Paris-Roubaix proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt that our society has progressed past the gladiatorial conquests of the Ancient Roman Empire. We no longer take joy in watching our fellow man being eaten by huge, snarling, terrifying wild animals from the exotic, far-flung reaches of the Roman Empire.

Rather, we rejoice in the human endeavor of those who take some spectacular crashes.

Enter, stage right, Yoann Offredo.

Ouch!

With so much talk of the dangers of the cobbles, someone forgot to tell poor Yoann of the dangers of traffic furniture.

By the way, I love the phrase, ‘traffic furniture’. It suggests to me a civic pride in furnishing your roads in the latest fashion trends and colours of the season.

Somehow I think Yoann may not be joining me on this one. I suspect his thoughts in relation to traffic furniture may be something along these lines;

‘Cobbles are for girls. Navigating traffic furniture is for real men.’

Or

‘What do ya’ mean, I’m not Superman.’

Sadly, I think the problem here could have been the traffic sign is the same colour as the FDJ kit.

Memo to FDJ: redesign your kit in colours not the same as traffic furniture.

Seriously, I have a huge amount of respect for these boys. Anyone who has ever walked over cobbles in five inch heels will tell you just how hard they are navigate.

Spring at last!

Well, if last weeks RVV was balmy, Paris-Roubaix was positively sweltering. The temperature almost got to double figures and with it the sense that spring has finally sprung in Europe.

The sky was clear, the weak sunshine filled our lounge rooms and there was not a Michelin Man in sight.

Dust appeared to be the main fare on the menu in Northern France. At times it was unclear if we were watching a cycling race in Northern France or an army convoy in Afghanistan.

With all of this dust, riders could write this event off as preparation for the 2016 World Champs in Qatar.

Where’s Fabian?

I’m not sure what coverage you were all watching, but as the race was getting within, say 40 kilometres of the finish, the commentators and camera operators on the coverage I was watching, seemed to have lost the race favourite, Fabian Cancellara.

In fact, this got me thinking that Fabian Cancellara could do quite a believable impersonation of Where’s Wally.

Just pop some tortoise-shell hipster glasses on, a red and white stripped long sleeve T, some blue trousers and voila!

Thankfully, Fabian was found alive and well and at the front of the peloton.

When road racing becomes track cycling

How awesome is it when road cycling morphs into track cycling?

What a tremendous finish.

In any other circumstances, I would have been cheering for Sep Vanmarcke. As an Australian from Irish stock, a love of the under dog is a genetic disposition, but I can’t cheer against Spartacus.

The cat and mouse game.

The master and the apprentice.

A cycling lesson was given to the young buck.

Now, all we have to do is sacrifice Peter Sagan – this is an ‘in joke’ that you can get in on if you read my piece of the Tour of Flanders, and hopefully next year we’ll have a Cancellara v Boonen showdown.

Bring it on!

 

Published on The Roar 9th April, 2013

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