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Paris Roubaix Challenge, April - what to expect / prepare for?

I'm prepping for my first ever long route sportive the Paris Roubaix.

I've checked out strava segments (a closing lap in the famous velodrome looks amazing btw- can anyone do it in <27 secs? ) and i thought this guide was useful, but I was hoping to get some first-hand tips / experiences from any members who have ridden Roubaix?
Aside from making sure that everything is very well attached to my bike , what else should I prepare for?!

Thanks
Tom

Posts

  • rozzer32rozzer32 Posts: 3,610
    Make sure your bottle cages hold your bottles tightly. And make sure everything else is bolted securely like saddlebags or pumps etc.

    The big thing I found is you have be assertive on the cobbles. Naturally there is a big mix of ability's so you'll be passing people and people will pass you, but try not to get stuck behind people and lose momentum on the cobbles. I rode the crown and then as soon as I caught someone I'd throw it in the gutter then back up the crown as soon as I'd passed them. Those few seconds on the rougher cobbles in gutter are far easier then getting stuck behind someone and losing your speed as you'll feel the cobbles even more then.
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  • JoostGJoostG Posts: 189
    When I'm riding in Flanders or Roubiax I leave my drink bottles etc at home: I use a small backpack of 3 liter with a drinking system. As I can put all kind of small stuff in it, I never have to worry about loosing stuff. I take plasters with me, as chances are big you're going to have issues with your hands. The first 100km or so you won't see cobbles, so you can ride with normal pressure in your tyres. The moment you arrive at Wallers/Arenberg stop and lower your tyre pressure (I ride approx 65/70 psi, 28mm Hutchinson Sector tubeless). That is going to make a huge difference. Try to relax your upper body on the cobbled sections, and try (first time this is hard) to ride with your hands loosely on the handlebar. Look ahead, so you can anticipate in time and won't loose momentum. Last but not least: make sure you see the fun of cobbled sections!
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,132
    The cobbles are bumpy as hell - work out in advance how low you can realistically go with tyre pressures and then do that on the day. I had Vittoria Rubino Pro Tech 28s at around 75 to begin with, let a LOT of air out after being bashed around over Arenberg, I suspect I was down at under 50PSI for the rest of the ride. The cobbles are great fun if its dry, I avoided the gutter as much as possible as I was there to ride the cobbles so might as well get stuck in. Fastest line tends to be on the crown and you can generally bomb along, but you will have to over / undertake people and as soon as you come off that line it can be really bumpy! Remarkable how much slower it is being away from the crown as well, which means you have to really work hard to pass people. If it gets wet the cobbles are far, far more difficult to ride as grip becomes a major issue. This is where the gutter becomes a bit more tempting. Arenberg is particularly horrific in the wet as there are jagged cobbles, missing cobbles and moss filled gaps that are like ice in the wet. Plus there's a very steep camber so if you don't stay on the crown you can get a lot of lateral sliding which is really disconcerting. Make sure your tyres are grippy, as wide as possible and as low pressure as you can get away with and it is a lot easier. Other than that, make sure your bottle cages grip tightly and I would advise having nothing else hanging off the bike (pumps, bags etc). I packed tools and tubes in a large bottle cage and stuffed everything else in my pockets, which worked fine.

    I wouldn't bother with taping fingers or anything like that. I put double tape on last year which may have helped but to be honest didn't seem to make a massive difference (I have kept it like that all year so all set for next month). Make sure all bolts are done up sufficiently tight. I used SPDs last year as I didn't fancy wearing road cleats over the cobbles if I needed to walk for any reason - will do the same this year. No other modifications to my bike - I basically road my alu winter bike / commuter and it has been in the same setup ever since. Just needs a clean and once over for this year.

    One last thing, check the forecast. It was freezing at the start last year, and again at the finish - I was a little underdressed and would have killed for a jacket / some decent gloves. Hopefully it will be warm and dry this year!
  • mamil314mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    JoostG wrote:
    When I'm riding in Flanders or Roubiax I leave my drink bottles etc at home: I use a small backpack of 3 liter with a drinking system. As I can put all kind of small stuff in it, I never have to worry about loosing stuff. I take plasters with me, as chances are big you're going to have issues with your hands. The first 100km or so you won't see cobbles, so you can ride with normal pressure in your tyres. The moment you arrive at Wallers/Arenberg stop and lower your tyre pressure (I ride approx 65/70 psi, 28mm Hutchinson Sector tubeless). That is going to make a huge difference. Try to relax your upper body on the cobbled sections, and try (first time this is hard) to ride with your hands loosely on the handlebar. Look ahead, so you can anticipate in time and won't loose momentum. Last but not least: make sure you see the fun of cobbled sections!

    Just how much hindrance was backpack and fat tyres over the first 100km? I'd expect that to be quite draining?
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,035
    cobbles hmmm fecking brutal take every advantage you can if there's a gutter grab it and take a rest, it all counts.

    i rode 90 psi in flanders with Vittoria paves and still felt like i was bouncing from one boulder to the next whilst everyone around me looked like they were gliding over butter - this was not the case, its hard work.

    but sort of fun
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  • JoostGJoostG Posts: 189
    mamil314 wrote:
    Just how much hindrance was backpack and fat tyres over the first 100km? I'd expect that to be quite draining?

    I use a small 3 liter backpack from decathlon: nice tight fit and just 3kg. To be honest, I don't feel it when it's on my back. Those 28mm tyres I use during all of the winter. I don't really notice a drop in speed. I had for example an average of 27.8 km/h for 162 km only the lonely https://www.strava.com/activities/418992390
  • mamil314mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    Thanks, JoostG, i might do just that and take hydrator with me. Your strava time was quick, fast legs!
  • kirkeekirkee Posts: 369
    Try to avoid the gutters and stay on the stones, unless you have to pass someone etc as mentioned above. Stay on the pave- after all its the whole point of riding Paris Roubaix isnt it?!
    Caveat - I buy and ride cheap, however, I reserve the right to advise on expensive kit that I have never actually used and possibly never will
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    King Iris bottle cages hold your drink securely. My bottles did not try to escape when I did last year.

    wide tyres. I used 30mm chalange strada bianca's with latex tubes and 55 psi front and 60 psi rear (I weighed 84 kg that day). Pressure was perfect. Did not get passed on the cobbles. If you cant get those tyres in your bike use vittoria Pave 27mm. Those things grip like nothing else but on a 15mm internal width rim they are only 25.5mm wide which is not really wide enough.

    The cobbles if wet are slippy. Most cobbles sections are flat but there is one down hill section Secotr 2 or 3 I think can't remember now that if wet is scarey. You hurtle down it well I did and there is a sharp bend at the bottom but you use the brakes properly. what do you do - pray the tyres grip - they did.

    Speed helps on the cobbles push as hard as you can on the sectors. This is where wider tyres at low pressures come in handy. Latex tubes are less likely to pinch flat so lower pressure are possible. Don't try and dodge the big stones you can't there will be another you have not spotted. This is how people fall.

    Arenburg is hard once you have done that the rest of the secteurs are easy in comparison.

    Dont grip the bars too hard that will hurt your hands. I was on the drops for all sectors as I could be sure my grip did not have to tight to keep my hands on the bars. I learnt the previous year on Tour of Flanders that hands on the hoods means your hands try to bounce off at speed and those cobbles are babies compared to the rocks of PR.

    I did not bother with two layers of bar tape, just one wrape= of cinelli cork. It works if your tyres are wide, pressures are low and you dont hold the bars tight. Those are the tricks to enjoying PR.

    Remember it is cobblestasic PR truely is. Enjoy it and then enjoy beer at the end.
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  • siddy1972siddy1972 Posts: 172
    Probably a silly question, but for anyone who's done this event before- do the feed stations provide just plain water? Hoping to carry one bottle and use the other cage for tools.
  • bigmatbigmat Posts: 5,132
    siddy1972 wrote:
    Probably a silly question, but for anyone who's done this event before- do the feed stations provide just plain water? Hoping to carry one bottle and use the other cage for tools.

    Yes I think so. One bottle should be plenty if it is as cold and wet as forecast. Just make sure your bottles are well secured!
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    Just done Flanders - apparently the cobbles are smoother ... so good luck on the PR !

    We saw loads of punctures - even mountain bikes weren't immune ... plenty of hard tail mountain bikes doing the course too. Plenty of disgarded bottles on route - and a few broken bottle cages too ...

    The cobbles I got to ride were fine at first, but after a while I got a pain in my hands - not unbearable, but noticable.
    I rode my Tarmac with 25mm Conti 4000's at 80psi (I'm 75Kg) - I don't know if I could've got away with less pressure - I tried a Conti 4000 28mm but there wasn't the clearance ...
    I carried 2 750ml bottles and didn't have to re-fill - there was sports drink or water available at the feed stations.
    Whilst I do have a saddle bag with tubes, spares and tools I removed my pump from the bottle cage and placed it in my jersey.

    What would I do differently?
    1) Don't wear my watch - I've got a reasonably heavy watch - the rattling on the cobbles made wearing the watch uncomfortable - I didn't need it as I've got the time on the GPS ... so that goes for next time.
    2) Double wrap the bartape with some gel inserts beneath - I know the idea was poo-pooed by some on here - but TBH - I don't care - some extra padding would've been welcome and it doesn't cost much to do.
    3) Possibly try and find some slightly bigger tyres and/or try a slightly lower pressure - I didn't have much time to do that this year - 2 short test rides in the combination I was going to use showed that 80psi was ok, but it would've been good to do a few more and try 75 or even 70 to see what differences it made - there's a few sections of road around here that are quite rough to test the setup :)

    that's about it ... my bottles were fine (used cheap bottles as they get scratched with all the movement), saddle and shorts were good.
    I carried no food at all - it was only 80 miles and with 3 feed stations it wasn't nescersary ... I did have some dextro tablets - but getting them ready before the start I realised they'd gone off! :o I suppose if I'd had some food on me (I did collect a few bits) and not wanted to wait for other people I was riding with (missed them at the last feed station - they didn't stop!) I wouldn't have had to stop at all and would've ridden it in a faster elapsed time - possibly moving time too as there was a lot of congestion ...
  • Ankles50Ankles50 Posts: 53
    Not being rude but if you did 80miles then you only did the medio not gran distance @ Flanders

    I did the Gran and went through 4 bottles and ate from the pocket as well as feed stations, fuelling when going 8hours in the saddle is key. I reckon cobbles sucked 20% or so out of your effort, so elongated sections will eat into your reserves.

    Water is always available, as well as multiple options on flavoured isotonics. Best thing about the feed stops is the honey sachets though, soooooo good

    As everyone says, don't hesitate on cobbles, just keep cranking on as straight a line as you can, drop a bike length or even two off person in front, gives you time to react if they fall. Pray for a dry day, wet cobbles really test bike handling of everyone
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    Not being rude - but I never said I did gran distance @ Flanders! I was booked on for it - but never got the training in, so re-booked onto the mid distance during signup.

    4 bottles over nearly twice the distance seems reasonable ;)
  • mamil314mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    Well, this is rubbish. What i wasn't ready for, that's a heavily ill person in the house infecting me with flu. Saturday will be a long day.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,759
    Looks wet on saturday, but dry for the PRO on sunday
  • Be careful of mud clogging the frame. Lots of wet sections and running wider tyres will only make the clogging worse.
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