Paris Roubaix 2018


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Published: April 13th 2018
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So again, here I am with a long time off to enjoy the sunny weather of any country but the UK, as the UK seems to have not paid its sunshine or heating bill this year! First trip this year is the Paris Roubaix cycle race, and from the start everything went well. Last year I had the little camper, this year I’m joined by Steve, who has a converted VW van. So while he slept in his van, I chucked the roof tent on the top of it with the room underneath for me to sleep in. This worked fine, till one of us woke up, then the other would be woken up by the swaying of the van moving around. Next time we use this setup, I’ll grab a couple of bottle jacks to support the back end of the van.

The ferry loaded early and the crossing was smooth. Slight glitch with the SAT NAV, being Garmin and not a Tomtom, it took me a while to figure out the settings I wanted, (this is why I stick with iPhones, I would get there eventually on another phone but iPhones are what I know, like Tomtoms lol). Before I knew it, we had arrived. Last time I got to Wallers Arenberg on the Thursday, which meant I had full choice of where I parked. This time we got there early afternoon Friday, which meant the only spaces were in the middle. This turned out to be fine, as the car park was still only stones, so I was able to smack the tent pegs into it for the room. Once set up, we cycled off to find the local Aldi for dinner that night, and a few munchies. When we got back, I had ago at setting up the TV, so we could watch the race live, while waiting for them to reach us. The scan found a bunch of channels, but none seemed the type of channel that would air the race, so when it came to watch it, we just used the iPad. During this time, the locals had walked up to us to give out there tourism promo bits, and invited us up the top to watch a BMX show and a free beer. The BMX show wasn’t half bad, but the free beer ran out just before we got there! The thing that made me smile about the show, was the host, who would introduce the rider in french, followed by the move he was about to show us in english, e.g. blah blah (insert name here) blah BAR SPIN, blah blah blah. The one thing that made this a little different to a UK BMX show, was they had brought a giant landing air bag, so they would hit the ramp at speed, do a flip or trick, then land safely on the air bag, though I swear some hit the ramp so hard, they only just landed on the bag with a metre to spare. Once the show was over, we headed back to cook dinner, and as we had been let down by the free beer, we opened a few Bulmers instead. After dinner it was dark and a concert had started where the BMX had been. But as this was only a hundred yards form the van, we could sit in comfort and listen. While the music was still playing, we headed off to look at the cobbles they would be racing along on Sunday. Last time I cycled the whole thing, so didn’t realise just how long it was to walk, (2.7Km if your interested). So walking the whole section seemed to take forever, and even longer to get back. So long in fact, the concert had finished before we reached the half way mark back.

Saturday morning started with a full english breakfast with bread from the local bakers, which I walked down to the bottom of the campsite to get, only for her to then drive up past the van, to sell to the vans next us! After this, we prepped the bikes in the hope of riding the local cobble sections and finding a bigger supermarket, to get more bits for dinner for the rest of the stay. Unfortunately by now the sportive riders from Roubaix were already using the cobble sections, so we went back through town to find another section, only to get tangled up with the riders on the sportive. This was fine till a right hand junction I wasn’t taking, but they were, so I had riders coming up along side me, ready to turn. Luckily the they were able to turn and I was able to go straight ahead without incident. We ended up criss crossing the route a couple of times, not on purpose just happened to be along the route to Lidl’s. At Lidl, there was a pizzeria outside, so we stopped for lunch there before stocking up. One of the things we had picked up was a six pack of two litre waters each, and a packet of bungies, to attach them to the rear rack of the bikes. Steve had put one around them, were as I had just gone top to bottom. This worked fine for me on normal roads, but then we came across a cobble section that I didn’t know about! this inevitably resulted in the pack being shaken and beginning to split, then two bottles started to drop out, so I had to stop and adjust. Once back at the van I nearly fell asleep in my chair, as it was quite hot by then, so we started dinner. A potato and leek Soup to use up the other french stick we had from this morning, while watching Thor Ragnorok on the TV.

Sunday morning in the early hours, it rained quite heavily, but by the time we had got up and started breakfast, it stopped and the sun came back out. Late morning there seem to be something happening in the road. This turned out to be the locals dragging a huge paper mache woman, with a brass band and baton twirlers marching down the road. Then the iPad was fired up and started to watch the race, till the signal started to fail. This happened last year when I tried to watch on my laptop, as it had got busy down at the cobble section, so I assume the phone tower couldn’t cope with this many people using it. As it was, this worked out time wise, as the race would soon be upon us, so we walked down the side of the cobble section to find a good place to stand and watch. I’d say after all of ten minutes, and the first of the riders flew past us. less than an hour later and it was all over, so we headed back to carry on watching the rest of the race on the iPad. This worked at first but then started glitching out, so I turn on the TV to see if maybe one of the channels was in fact showing the race, and yes there was one, just all in french of course. By this time a Belgian family had started standing next to the van, watching it through the open side door, just in time to see Peter Sagan take the win. While cooking dinner later, I expected most of the campsite to empty like it had last year, but most of them stayed till Monday morning like us. Monday started fairly leisurely, with a last fry up and packing up. Unfortunately it rained the previous night, so I had to pack up the tent wet, then dry it at home later. Once finished, we drove the van down to the bottom, and unhitched the bikes for the final time, so we could cycle the cobbles before leaving. This was fun and painful at the same time, even with lowered tyre pressures it was very bumpy. Then we discovered that the ferry was actually booked for 10:45 not 11:55, and of course there was traffic and hold ups around the cities we were passing, so there was no chance of making it. Then to top it off, when we arrived at customs, I couldn’t find my bloody passport! So I tipped every bag upside down, and turn the back of the van into a full on mess. I found the poxy thing in the laptop bag, I had had next to me, all the way there!! Again like Dover, we had hardly been sitting waiting five minutes, before they began loading, and before I knew it, I was home again. By this point the weather was dry and cloudy so I decided to open the tent up, only for it to piss down just before the damn thing was fully dry!


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