The cobbles are not for everyone. Peter van Petegem said it best, that you have to really love the stones to be good at them. Much like climbing, they demand that the rider forge a close relationship with a special kind of pain – one that is self-inflicted and inspires you to inflict more.
I knew I would love the pavé before my tires ever came close to them. I knew I had the right head for it (stubborn), and I knew I had the right body for it (fat). I had watched all the Paris-Roubaix videos that I could get my hands on, but they didn’t really sink their claws in; I was getting drunk on kegs of LeMond’s Tour domination and was yet to develop my Classics palate. It all changed in 1991 when Marc Madiot stormed the gates of Hell and won his second Roubaix. Continue reading