We had a great time on our Paris Roubaix celebration ride today. We promised cobblestones and we delivered! Thanks to the dedicated fans that came out to join us.
We planned a route that featured 2 Pave sections (ok, we’re calling both of them Pave, but one was more like gravel). We headed north from the Hincapie HQ on the Swamp Rabbit Trail to Pave section #1. This is the short gravel section of the trail after Roe Ford Rd. that we normally curse, but today it was more reasonable. You could tell that some of the group had been reading rider diaries from the race, because the pace immediately quickened over the rocks. Just like in France, right!
We started from a gravel parking lot behind Hincapie HQ to get in the spirit quickly.
From there we headed back towards downtown over the base of Paris Mountain where (just by chance) we found Pave section #2, an unexpected Pave section very close to George’s house. In the spirit of the weekend, the DOT had ground up the asphalt to prepare for a repaving. At this point, as a rumbled over the rough surface, I couldn’t help but wonder how close this was to the actual torture they will face during the race. I settled on “not even close” as I rode one-handed trying to shoot some video of the experience.
After the construction zone we headed back down North Main, retracing part of the USPro RR course. We were headed to Pave section #3, the only authentic “cobblestone” section in downtown Greenville. This would culminate our celebration and get all of us charged up for the weekend’s race. Or it would at least give us a truer understanding of what George and the BMC boys will go through on Sunday.
We found our Roubaix replica cobbles behind the Upcountry History Museum.
Before you tell me that there are other cobblestone sections in Greenville, please realize that we aren’t talking about smooth brickwork with little tiny gaps between bricks. We’re not talking about the smooth, decorative pavers scattered around downtown. If you can roll your baby stroller across it without waking up junior, it’s not a true section of Pave. We rolled up to the stones in front of the Upcountry History Museum thinking we would finally experience a little bit of Paris Roubaix. What an experience it was?!?! Those guys are crazy. One well traveled cyclist was with us and who had actually ridden through the Arenberg Forest on his bike. He confirmed that the Pave section we finished on was indeed close to what they ride in the actual race. Big difference is…we rode about 100 meters…and they will ride over 50 kilometers of that stuff on Sunday! It was humbling to realize what they actually go through. Good luck to George and the BMC boys this weekend. Everyone that finishes that race deserves a trophy.
Those are some nasty rocks!
We didn't have any major mishaps, but we did break a shifter cable on our Pave.