Cacophonous Cobbles Quest

In this post:

-An article about the Paris Roubaix race.

-New shop ride schedules

-State of Winter Clinics

-Changes at the bike shop

-Our Grand Reopening

First off, apologies for not having written in a while.  We are currently (this is changing, soon) understaffed and so it’s quite hard to find time to write.  Bare with us through the spring, we have at least two new hires coming down the pike to help us out, as well as a fantastic new head mechanic currently in place.  So things should be back to the new normal soonishly.


Sean Kelly shows his pearly whites

Winter fades.  Frozen soil thaws, new life begins.  The professional cyclist, who has let himself grow plump on two Coors Light beers and a victory burger, buckles down for a season of suffering and angst.  The Spring Classics, relatively short races held across continental Europe, distill road cycling to a high proof essence.  The races are brutish, filled with chance, crashes and mechanical failures.  Often riders will crash multiple times in a single one day race.

Bernard Hinault crashed 7 times in his only Paris-Roubaix victory.  The final crash was caused by a small dog named Gruson.

Hinault, about to show Gruson why dogs shouldn't mess with Frenchmen

This final crash enraged Hinault to the point where he sprinted past all challengers and won the race.  Misfortune and bad luck dog every competitor.  The race has been called ‘a lottery’ and ‘nonsense’ by those who have ridden and lost.  Theo De Rooij, a Belgian cyclist in the 1985 race, was interviewed right after the race.  Crashed out and caked in mud he offered this non-sequitur:

“It’s a bollocks, this race!  You’re working like an animal, you don’t have time to p**s, you wet your pants.  You’re riding in mud like this, you’re slipping… it’s a pile of s**t.”

Immediately after this comment, he was asked if he would race the Paris Roubaix again.  He answered:

“Sure, it’s the most beautiful race in the world!”

In 1919, the western world was reeling from the end of the Great War.  The Paris Roubaix had been halted during the war, the race course (and France in general) being the subject of constant shelling, death and other worldly destruction.  Riders and journalists set off to recondeer the course.  The corresponding report from the next day’s L’Auto (a cycle racing publication) laid the conditions bare: “We enter into the centre of the battlefield. There’s not a tree, everything is flattened! Not a square metre that has not been hurled upside down. There’s one shell hole after another. The only things that stand out in this churned earth are the crosses with their ribbons in blue, white and red. It is hell!”  

The cobbles and craters were not what earned the race the title “Hell of the North”.   This was how all roads looked in Europe, so what we view as especially brutal riding conditions were at the time simply par for the course.  The title arose from the physical scars of war, evidence of 9 million lost lives and the inhumanity of man.   Henri Pelissier said of his victory that year: “This wasn’t a race, it was a pilgrimage.”

Henri Pelissier, in 1919

Dig around on the web.  There are many back door ways to watch the Spring Classics, even though ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Poker, ESPN Classic, ESPN Snooker, and ESPN Bowling don’t cover any of it.  I don’t have any links for you there, but they are out there, hiding in forums.  Find some, and share them in the comments.  The races are fun to watch, and almost always have exciting finishes.

Here is a good clip of Hinault taking a beating in the ’81 Paris Roubaix:

There is a slow, but interesting documentary on the race, called Hell of the North.

It’s a long one, but show’s the whole enchilada, from the prepping of the mechanics to the showers in the velodrome at the end.  Eddy Merckx more or less stars in it, and puts out this huge effort, way too late in the game.


Shop Rides are gunna start up again.  This week we’ll have just two, but soon we’ll have a good number up and running.  Brian is starting his popular hill climbing ride this Wednesday.  Meet at the shop around 5, and hit the road around 5.30.  Fastish pace, but it’s a no drop ride, so if you like climbing, or want to get better at it, come on out.  Ride goes till dusk, and mileage will increase as daylight permits.

Tuesday morning, at 8 am, we’ll be heading out for an easy peasy road ride.  Nothing major, nothing long.  Maybe some dirt, maybe not.  Sub 40 miles.  Probably some coffee in the middle there.  No set schedule, a good ride for a day off.

We’ll be starting up more rides soon, stay posted.


Winter Clinics are more or less finished for the season.  We’re too busy to do them now.  We’ll still do our free fix a flat clinic on the first Wednesday of every month at 6 pm.  It’s comprehensive, so even if you know how to, say, put a new tube in, we’ll show you how to boot a tire or what to do if you run out of tubes.  Got ideas for next years winter clinics?  Leave ideas in the comment section.


Changes at the shop:

As most of you know, we’ve done a big refit on the shop.  We now have a dedicated road and tri side of the shop, and are working on a good womens area as well.  The season has been insanely busy, and there have been a few personnel shake ups, nothing bad, just changes.  We got a new service manager, named Zach, who has gobs of experience: pro team mechanic, pro wheel builder for wheelsmith, trike maintenance guy for a huge industrial plant that used trikes to get around, lots of shop experience.  He is fast, knowledgable, and really solid.  We’re trilled to have him.  He is going to be training John, who has worked with us on a part time basis for a while but is now full time, to be his second in command.  John, for those who don’t know him already, is a long time cyclist who rides mountain, races cross, used to race road, and does a bit of lite touring too.  He’s a PhD is evolutionary biology, to boot.  Brandon tries to stump him with questions, but it doesn’t work.

We’ll be joined shortly by Tracy, who is a local road rider with a ton of enthusiasm.  She’ll be part of our growing sales team.  Look for her out climbing Hamburg Road, her favorite local pitch.


Our Grand Reopening is set for April 21 and 22.  We’ll have food, drink, music, and things like that.  An actual schedule to be emailed out later this week, but it should be good, and you should consider this an early warning/invite to keep that weekend free.

Thanks for reading!

-The Bike Doctor Team of irregarded englishnessery

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