Keepers Tour 2012 Update, Part I: Roubaix & RVV

Keepers Tour 2012 Update, Part I: Roubaix & RVV

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With Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 stitched up and in the history books, the challenge of documenting the trip became immediately obvious; how do you take the myriad impressions, experiences, and perspectives and put them down in a meaningful way – let alone in a way that can somehow be digested. Surely, to document even just the Keepers’ view on these goings-on would result in an article much longer than anyone would be prepared to read and would be a far cry from comprehensive. 

We have decided that the best approach is to split the report into four Articles, one authored by each Keeper, and each covering a different section of the trip. We also look forward to the contribution of additional photos and stories through the posts from those who joined us and those who witnessed the goings-on from afar. Today, we present you the report from the first weekend which covered the Roubaix ride and watching de Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 Updates: Part I // Part II // Part III // Part IV

It took the five months since announcing Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 to prepare myself both physically and mentally for the beating I would surely take riding the hardest and most sacred roads in Northern Europe. It took five seconds on the first cobbled secteur for me to realize that there is no way to prepare for it, assuming you don’t regularly operate two jackhammers at once – one with your hands and one with your butt.

Immediately after arriving at the Gite in Westouter, Heuveland, it had become obvious that the group had a chemistry that seemed as though it were guided by the very hand of Merckx. Everyone, from our guides, William and Alex of Pave Cycling Classics, to the Keepers (whom had never all met in person until earlier that week), to the attendees got along instantly like long lost friends with boisterous laugher lubricated by more than a few glasses of Malteni Beer and wine.

We set about unpacking and preparing our bikes in the nervous manner customary of people who anticipate something they don’t understand: advice was given to people who didn’t ask for it by people unqualified to provide it; justifications were assertively made for decisions not understood by those justifying them; adjustments were made to equipment that required neither adjustment nor attention.

I arose Saturday to the disappointment of a gloriously sunny dawn; my secret hope had been to ride the pavé in the muddy tradition of those who have ridden it before me, though it was difficult to be disappointed with the beautiful sight of an early morning sun flooding the hills surrounding the Gite. We kitted up, ate breakfast, and prepared to drive to Valenciennes, the site of our route’s start.

For me, to feel my wheels roll over the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix was a dream which I had held since I was 8 years old. Ever since I started riding a bike seriously, I had sought out any cobbles I could find in the various places I’ve ridden; either in the oldest American towns or in Dutch, Belgian, and French villages I visited. Through this, I had cultivated a confidence that I knew what to expect; that the French pavé couldn’t be significantly different than the stones I’d found elsewhere.

We rolled out and quickly arrived at the first secteur. Words can’t describe the flood of emotions that run through your mind the moment you hit the cobbles. The first and most obvious is an acute realization that you are riding in a group over a road so rough your back wheel is jumping a half meter from left to right as you jar over the cobbles. You then realize your eyesight lacks something in the way of clarity due to the associated scrambling of your brain and senses as you try to adjust to this new style of riding. As your vision wavers somewhere between “blurry” and “blind”, you realize that there is what seems like a significant downhill section coming up and your hands are fixed to the tops of the bars as though they were conducting an electrical current that locks your hands in a tight grip, like grabbing an electric fence with both hands. There is no possibility of braking, and only a phantom sense of steering.

Somehow, we all managed to safely navigate the 2.5 kilometeres to the divinely smooth tarmac at the other end and rolled to a stop. Excited conversations and exclamations erupted from the group as we came to terms with what had just transpired; I checked my wheels for trueness – assuming they had come to pieces – only to find they were in the same state as they had been prior to entering the secteur. The excited chatter turned more tame as we collectively realized we had 20 more such sections to navigate, with the hardest and most renown coming at the end of the ride.

A few secteurs further on, we arrived at the entrance to the legendary Forest of Arenberg where we stopped to pay our respects to this most hallowed stretch of cobbles before submitting to its 3000 meters of hell. These were indeed much more difficult than the previous sections, with huge gaps between the stones, and an unmerciful uphill finish. The thing that makes riding cobbles so hard is not the jarring of your bones nor the lack of control over the machine; its the fact that each stone you hit slows your momentum – from the very moment you hit the cobbles, they are dragging you down and its only a matter of time until you run out of power and succumb to their cruelty. One can only hope to reach the end of the secteur before your strength leaves you entirely.

Again, we regrouped before continuing on to the rest of the secteurs, which vary in length, difficulty, and brutality. As we put more and more secteurs behind us, we gained confidence riding the stones, but also became much more fatigued. The fatigue is one unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. While my saddle gave the impression of making unwelcome advances throughout each of the sections, my hands, forearms, and biceps took on an aching that significantly compromised my ability to hold the bars or steer my machine. Trying to pee made me wonder how I had caught venereal disease.

The cobbles themselves vary from area to area; some are fairly smooth, while others seem as though they had been dumped from a moving truck and left there; yet all of them made me glad we rode them in the dry. It seemed that by and large, the best place to ride them was on the crown and out of the gutter. This was not always the case, however, as the crown was in bad shape in some places. On the crown or in the gutter, the only way to ride the stones was á bloc, or full gas. The faster you go, the more your bike hovers over the gaps between the stones which in most places are significant. Ride the cobbles slowly, and you feel each and every bump.

We did have a few mishaps along the way. First was Marko’s seatpin, which cleft in two on one of the early secteurs and forced him to ride the remainder of the route on a borrowed bike. We also had the small matter of a certain Keeper of Dutch descent leading the group through a town and misunderstanding the traffic patterns. Coming around a bend, I plowed sidelong into a car and left @ChrisO to avoid it only by dodging to the right and crashing over the curb. Thankfully, no one was injured and we managed to continue on our way after replacing his damaged front wheel. If there’s one thing that makes you feel Pro, it’s having a support car with a mechanic jumping from it to replace a broken part. If there’s one thing that makes you feel like an idiot, its causing an accident because you’re – well – an idiot.

We finished the ride covering all the remaining secteurs including Mons en Pavelle and Carrefour de l’Arbre and rolling into Roubaix and onto its famous track, before touring the legendary showers. This day was a realization of a dream I have held for almost 30 years, and it did not disappoint.

Many thanks go out to William and Alex from Pavé Cycling Classics for their masterful work; you were more than guides and hosts, you have become our friends. Similarly, we are forever indebted to Belgian photographer Jesse Willems and his friend Tom who accompanied us and generously photographed us on our journey. Please see below for his masterful photographs.

Jesse Willems’ Keepers Tour Roubaix Gallery (view in Full Screen for best results)

Slideshow:
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With one dream sorted, we arrose the next day to watch de Ronde van Vlaanderen on the famous cobbled climb of the Oude Kwaremont. The controversial new route had the riders doing three circuits, covering the climb in each one. We conducted our selves in the traditional Flandrian way by consuming enormous quantities of beer, eating frite met (fries with mayonaise) and screaming our lungs out. The atmosphere is indescribable at these races, with friendship and camaraderie between total strangers.

One of the interesting things about being at the roadside is that you have very little idea of what’s actually happening in the race, though the large TV screens nearby did help lend some notion as to what was going on. The biggest contrast of the day was Fabian Cancellara’s pre-race interview being aired moments before his fateful crash; the interviewer asked him of what he was afraid during the race and Fabian looked at him quizzically, asking him to restate the question a few times before finally understanding what this “fear” business was all about and answering, “Oh, nothing.” Sadly, it appears even a stray bidon can change the course of a race.

If you haven’t been to watch a major European bike race, put it on your list to do as soon as possible. It involves a lot of waiting, drinking, and eating. A lot of chatting, a lot of excitement. The anticipation as the race comes close can be cut with knife; it mounts gradually until you hear the television helicopters hovering nearby. Then the race official cars come by, and finally the races woosh by in an instant. Try to pick a climb so the bunch is spread out a bit, otherwise it will be over in a flash. But you’re there for more than seeing the riders; being at the races helps you understand there is much more to racing bikes than crossing the finish line – there is an entire world that surrounds it and that world is one worth being a part of.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

Attendee Gallery

Slideshow:
Fullscreen:

@Frank’s Strava on the ride: http://app.strava.com/rides/5985790

// Cyclotourism // Defining Moments // Keepers Tour // The Hardmen // Unforgettable Rides

  1. @Buck Rogers

    @Gianni

    @frank
    Gianni! Awesome info as I am very curious and will be running the 28 spoke tubular rims with 27mm Vit Pave’s. Should be okay per your post as far as I can tell.

    Frank et al: Did you guys ride the hoods or tops or even the drops mostly? Sorry if you have already addressed this question.

    Started off on the tops, but the second day I went to the drops and it was MUCH better. You can steer better, and break/shift as you corner – some of the secteurs have 90 degree corners and they are tough to negotiate from the tops. The thing is to not let your fingers vibrate loosely – grip hard enough that all fingers are touching so they don’t get slapped around too much.

    Marko rode the hoods but every time I tried that, I felt like I was awkward with my weight too far forward. I did ride the hoods a lot on the kassien in Belgium, though, which are much less brutal.

    Also, its been said before, but ride lllloooooowww pressure. Go out the day before (or a few days before) and do a few practice runs at 7 bar, and get the hang of not hitting the sharp bits of the cobbles. Then go down to 5.5 or 6 for the big day.

  2. @Buck Rogers
    Personal preference. I hated the drops on most sectors. It puts more weight on the front wheel and I liked being in a more relaxed position, more like on a mountain bike I guess.

    I ran Vittoria Open Pavé CG 24mm clinchers with Vittoria latex tubes at 90PSI and had not a whimper. My Oli-built front wheel is as straight as a die, but the back one never saw the stones. Thanks baggage dick.

  3. @Buck Rogers
    I rode almost exclusively on the tops, away from the brakes. It seemed more manageable way to keep a loose grip on the bars. But then again, I had no idea what I was doing. Since William and and Alex were in the drops, and they surely do know what they are doing, that might be the way to go.

  4. @Buck Rogers
    Mostly tops for me, which I found OK (and I normally ride in the drops).

    I did occasionally use drops, especially where as Frank said, there was a need to corner or brake or, God forbid, change gear on the f***ing Sram that was equipped on the rental bike.

    The one place I found impossible was the hoods. Too much bouncing around and I found it hard to relax my grip while retaining control.

    I think I was one of the few who didn’t have a blister at the end of the Roubaix ride so I took that as a good sign.

  5. @Chris@frank@brett@Gianni@ChrisO

    Thanks for the advice. Glad to hear that you do not HAVE to ride the drops all the time. My flexibility would not do too well with that and I have enough to work on before the ride without having to become Gumby as well!

    Will try more in the drops riding between now and the ride (less than two months–egad!) and plan on mixing it up between drops and tops on the ride. Thanks again.

  6. Yeah, I can now see the need for top mounted brake levers there too… coming into some of the corners with no chance of grabbing the brakes makes it a little sketchy.

  7. @frank
    Re changing your alu bars for carbon – here is clip that I also posted previously with the sky team mechanic setting up wiggins PR bike in 2011. They switch from using carbon bars back to aluminium for Paris Roubaix for safety reasons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_JCm33WSAs

    Really enjoying all the accounts from the Keepers Tour, keep em coming.

  8. @Chris and Frank
    Regarding training, if I would have done anything differently it would have been more sprint and interval training to prepare for the need to just blast over the cobbles.

    That was the bit that surprised me. It felt much the same as hitting a short but sharp hill – stay in the big ring and try to keep it going.

    Otherwise I was fairly happy with my training, although I was prepared for a longer ride than it turned out to be.

    Although I had no desire at the end to get on my bike and do another 50km I could and would have done them at the beginning. Partly to warm up and partly (as it was the first day) to get the group riding together before hitting any secteurs.

  9. @Buck Rogers

    @Chris@frank@brett@Gianni@ChrisOThanks for the advice. Glad to hear that you do not HAVE to ride the drops all the time. My flexibility would not do too well with that and I have enough to work on before the ride without having to become Gumby as well!Will try more in the drops riding between now and the ride (less than two months-egad!) and plan on mixing it up between drops and tops on the ride. Thanks again.

    I’m also not a regular drops user. But after I dropped the saddle 5mm, hooking my hands into the drops and pedaling as hard as I could was the fastest and most comfortable method for me to traverse the secteurs. My theory is that there is more vibration-dampening aluminium (ellooominim?) between the stem and your hands. Just don’t let your fingers hang loosely, or agony will quickly set in and won’t disappear for days.
    If I’m lucky enough to do this again, my training will focus on 5-7 minute intervals at near max effort. The smooth tarmac between secteurs provides enough recovery if you can stay with the leaders, but not if you have to battle solo into a headwind to catch up what you just lost on the cobbles.
    Other tips:
    1. Leave your carbon cages at home. Alloy Elites work. I didn’t come even close to loosing a bidon all week.
    2. 3 snickers and a can of Coke can mask your training deficiencies for an hour or 2, but not for a whole week. So do some training!
    3. Ride some MTB, or use your road bike on gravel to perfect steering via your saddle. For me, there was nothing better than floating smoothly and quickly through a 90 degree cobbled corner. I loved Mons-en-Pevele!!
    4. When William tells you to boogie, you had better fooking boogie!

  10. @Bianchi Denti

    @Buck Rogers

    @Chris@frank@brett@Gianni@ChrisOThanks for the advice. Glad to hear that you do not HAVE to ride the drops all the time. My flexibility would not do too well with that and I have enough to work on before the ride without having to become Gumby as well!Will try more in the drops riding between now and the ride (less than two months-egad!) and plan on mixing it up between drops and tops on the ride. Thanks again.

    I’m also not a regular drops user. But after I dropped the saddle 5mm, hooking my hands into the drops and pedaling as hard as I could was the fastest and most comfortable method for me to traverse the secteurs. My theory is that there is more vibration-dampening aluminium (ellooominim?) between the stem and your hands. Just don’t let your fingers hang loosely, or agony will quickly set in and won’t disappear for days.
    If I’m lucky enough to do this again, my training will focus on 5-7 minute intervals at near max effort. The smooth tarmac between secteurs provides enough recovery if you can stay with the leaders, but not if you have to battle solo into a headwind to catch up what you just lost on the cobbles.

    This sums it up perfectly in my mind. If you’re only in the drops for the pavé it’s not long enough to be worrying about the usual aches and there’ll be bits hurting more than your back. I rode with my saddle at it’s regular height but my backside was one of the only bits that didn’t hurt although an extra dollop of chamois creme would have been nice.

    20 x 5 minutes at full gas with random recovery periods from 30 seconds to 4 minutes should do the trick. Up a flight of stairs.

    5. When William tells your there’s only three more sectuers and then 10km to the finish, don’t believe a word of it. He’s a lying Irish kuuunt.

  11. 6. One of those speedball things might help, they seem to be popular with downhillers and motocrossers for arm pump.

  12. Mons-a-pavele was cool, to Denti’s point. Hem sucked, to Chris’ point.

  13. @Marko
    When William told me that we’d just done the last secteur at the end of Hems, I may well have threatened to kill him if it turned out not to be the case.

    I hit a nice deep patch of same on Mons-a-pavele that had me very close to being a proper pavé casualty.

  14. @ChrisO

    Regarding training, if I would have done anything differently it would have been more sprint and interval training to prepare for the need to just blast over the cobbles.

    This. I was just about to make the same suggestion to @Buck Rogers on this; the power you need to sustain your speed throughout the 3km secteur is really taxing after a while. My base was good, but I did not speed/strength work at all on the run-up, and I absolutely should have.

    The key to riding the pavé is to ride them as fast as possible, and the real killer is that each cobble pushes your bike back and slows it down, so you’re constantly fighting momentum. This is why the big, powerful riders like Boonen are the ones who do well on that route.

  15. @Bianchi Denti

    1. Leave your carbon cages at home. Alloy Elites work. I didn’t come even close to loosing a bidon all week.
    2. 3 snickers and a can of Coke can mask your training deficiencies for an hour or 2, but not for a whole week. So do some training!
    3. Ride some MTB, or use your road bike on gravel to perfect steering via your saddle. For me, there was nothing better than floating smoothly and quickly through a 90 degree cobbled corner. I loved Mons-en-Pevele!!
    4. When William tells you to boogie, you had better fooking boogie!

    Brilliance, right there. Absolute brilliance.

    My favorite was when I hit a series of pits that, in series, provided the perfect springboard for my bidon to eject directly up through my frame and hang there tantalizingly right in front of my face for what appeared to be minute. Strange sensation, that, when you suddenly have your bidon hanging in front of your face. I wasn’t sure if I should grab it or what. Then reality came back and I realized that riding the pavé is like being a toddler who is learning to walk: you’re basically just avoiding a crash until you get to the end of the bit. The bidon can be gathered up later.

    @Marko

    Mons-a-pavele was cool, to Denti’s point. Hem sucked, to Chris’ point.

    Funny that we all hated Hem so much. And loved Mons-a-Pavélé. I think Hem is considered one of the easier secteurs. Its just shit. No rhythm, no love.

  16. I’m not sure I agree with the carbon cage assertion. I was riding the Lezyne carbon cages provided to us and they were bomber – I didn’t lose a bottle all week and noticed several people with Elites on the Pave bikes losing bottles. I’ve lost bottles with my Elites on gravel. At some point I’ll write a Reverence about them. They rule.

  17. @motor city

    @frank
    Re changing your alu bars for carbon – here is clip that I also posted previously with the sky team mechanic setting up wiggins PR bike in 2011. They switch from using carbon bars back to aluminium for Paris Roubaix for safety reasons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_JCm33WSAs

    Really enjoying all the accounts from the Keepers Tour, keep em coming.

    Awesome video. I almost teared up when he started talking about the wheels, and I love the idea of a satellite shifter – that’s something that would be a really nice benefit from riding electronic.

    As for the Alu bars, I’m not convinced it makes a difference, assuming the carbon isn’t flawed. Aluminum has a tendency to fatigue and fail just as anything else – just look at Hincapie’s fork failure on Mons-en-Pavélé a few years back; he was using an alu steerer instead of his usual carbon one (for safety reasons), and it failed.

    Carbon should be perfectly fine on something like pavé, and its dampening qualities should make it safer. There is, of course, the question of what happens in a crash, but since we’re not riding it in a pro peloton going 60kmph, I’m not sure crash breakages are such a massive risk.

    All that said, the only component that failed during the trip was Marko’s carbon seat pin. On the other hand, I ride the same seat pin with more extension and more setback, and mine was fine. My feeling is his saddle was overtightened at some point and had a weak point in it at the clamp (which is where it snapped off).

    But that’s the thing about carbon; no real indication anything is wrong until it goes. That sucks.

  18. @frank

    @ChrisO


    Regarding training, if I would have done anything differently it would have been more sprint and interval training to prepare for the need to just blast over the cobbles.

    This. I was just about to make the same suggestion to @Buck Rogers on this; the power you need to sustain your speed throughout the 3km secteur is really taxing after a while. My base was good, but I did not speed/strength work at all on the run-up, and I absolutely should have.

    The key to riding the pavé is to ride them as fast as possible, and the real killer is that each cobble pushes your bike back and slows it down, so you’re constantly fighting momentum. This is why the big, powerful riders like Boonen are the ones who do well on that route.

    That’s one of the things I am concerned about (one of MANY): I will be riding a cyclosportif with around 1,000+ other riders and a total of 210 k’s. There will be so many different levels of riders on the course and just plain so many people that it might be VERY hard to get any rhythm going if the sectors are totally congested. You guys had the totally right idea to ride it off cyclosportif time as there must have been dramatically less traffic.

  19. Sorry if it has been covered but what was Marko able to pull off when his pillar snapped? A crash? Racking himself on the TT? It happening slowly enough to realize it?

    I hope the last guess!

  20. @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @ChrisO

    Regarding training, if I would have done anything differently it would have been more sprint and interval training to prepare for the need to just blast over the cobbles.

    This. I was just about to make the same suggestion to @Buck Rogers on this; the power you need to sustain your speed throughout the 3km secteur is really taxing after a while. My base was good, but I did not speed/strength work at all on the run-up, and I absolutely should have.

    The key to riding the pavé is to ride them as fast as possible, and the real killer is that each cobble pushes your bike back and slows it down, so you’re constantly fighting momentum. This is why the big, powerful riders like Boonen are the ones who do well on that route.

    That’s one of the things I am concerned about (one of MANY): I will be riding a cyclosportif with around 1,000+ other riders and a total of 210 k’s. There will be so many different levels of riders on the course and just plain so many people that it might be VERY hard to get any rhythm going if the sectors are totally congested. You guys had the totally right idea to ride it off cyclosportif time as there must have been dramatically less traffic.

    Not sure if we communicated this ever, but that was a very conscious decision we made not to do it with the sportivs for that reason. And, I have to say that while I’m with @ChrisO for adding more distance at the front end, I’m super happy with the way we approached it.

    Another note would be that if you add the extra distance, we’d likely have to split up the group into those who wanted to do that and who didn’t, and make sure the speeds of the group were matched up because we’d have to ride it a bit faster than we did.

    One thing is for sure, it would be a really hard ride!

  21. @frank
    Yeah, if given a choice I would ride it “off cyclo” like you guys did but it is not working out that way. The overall distance is not really anywhere near as important as getting to ride all the classic section of pave’.

    Still, it will be quite an adventure to ride it with all the other people. I hear that the hillier classics cyclo’s are worse as people get stuck on the hills. Hopefully the pave’ will not be too cluttered. Either way, it will be pretty special to me.

  22. Cycling News reports that Lars Boom rode Roubaix on a cyclocross frame and 30mm tires.

    Yikes! Is there a UCI limit on the width of road tires? He’s nearly at the cyclocross limit of 32mm.

  23. @G’rilla
    They also show Flecha’s bike with a double wrap and double hoods.

  24. Jesse Willems is an absolute god. Finally a picture of me on my bike that I actually like.

    I may still look like a little round man compared to the the other guys on the tour but as far as i’m concerned I look magnificent in these.

    These were taken on the D935 not long after the 14th secteur Tilloy à Sars et Rosières which I hadn’t negotiated with quite the same panache or speed as the rest of the guys – I was trying to hang onto to the fist group to ensure arriving at the velodrome in roubaix before it closed for the day.

    I was chasing hard at this point but without making ground – that was the first point I remember there being any wind. It’s a long straight and there was no traffic in sight so I was also trying to zone out a bit and fall into a rhythm. Jesse took these before I noticed that he’d drawn along side me.

    From memory I caught up with everyone after the 13th secteur when they stopped to regroup. I think that was the secteur on which @Marko’s seat post called it quits.

  25. @Chris
    Great photos.

    I only have a few of me in action that I like. In one of my favourites, I am attcking the group (not the lead group…) on the Emily Murphy climb in Edmonton during the World Masters. I will have to get a scan of that one. I look round compared to others. I like to think of it as, “able to handle myself in a monkey knife fight…”

  26. @Chris
    Nice shots Chris. That B&W one is worthy of VVallpaper.

  27. @Chris
    Outstanding Belgian aerobar form. Strong work, lad.

  28. @Chris
    VVoVV great photos Chris, lookin’ fantastic.

  29. @Chris
    Damn Man! You look the proper Hardman there, esp in the B&W photo! Great shot!

  30. Love the shot!

  31. @Chris
    Yeah, that B&W version was worth the trip over right there. Killer photo.

  32. @Chris

    Fuck, Chris those pics are fantastic. If I were you I’d get them printed and framed and hang them in your office or right by your rollers set up or something like that. Fantastic. I’d don’t think I’d have the balls to do the phantom aero bars on the pave!!

    Quick q or two for you if you don’t mind. a. how tall are you? b. What size is that sacred garment?
    (We look similar see and I want to order some sacred garments for myself. I’m pretty sure from all the discussions last time on here but I’m just having a last minute faff!)

  33. ah..just re-read your post. Between secteurs! I still wouldn’t do it but I guess that’s the best way to give the hands a break eh?

  34. @Chris

    Jesse Willems is an absolute god. Finally a picture of me on my bike that I actually like.

    I may still look like a little round man compared to the the other guys on the tour but as far as i’m concerned I look magnificent in these.

    These were taken on the D935 not long after the 14th secteur Tilloy à Sars et Rosières which I hadn’t negotiated with quite the same panache or speed as the rest of the guys – I was trying to hang onto to the fist group to ensure arriving at the velodrome in roubaix before it closed for the day.

    I was chasing hard at this point but without making ground – that was the first point I remember there being any wind. It’s a long straight and there was no traffic in sight so I was also trying to zone out a bit and fall into a rhythm. Jesse took these before I noticed that he’d drawn along side me.

    From memory I caught up with everyone after the 13th secteur when they stopped to regroup. I think that was the secteur on which @Marko’s seat post called it quits.

    Black and white photo is David Lynch meets Pavé (good thing). Speaking of.
    http://www.pavepavepave.com/

  35. The B & W shot is my favorite as well but there’s something about the colour shot that I like too. I don’t remember there being much colour on the day.

    The phantom aerobars pose wasn’t a conscious effort to give the hands a break (hand relief!), more an attempt to get aero, get my head down and let my mind go blank rather than spend time watching my target along a long straight road. A bit like not watching the clock when your on the rollers. I find that’s when I come closest to souplese. If you look at the full res colour version, it almost looks like my eyes are closed.

    @paolo I’m a shade over 5’9″ with short legs, 32″ waist and 30″ leg but a somewhat chunkier torso, the jersey is an xl (but casteli kit is euro tight) and the bibs are large (not sacred garments – old school black – but casteli and the roughly the same cut).

  36. The B&W pic just has more romance to it.

    Thanks Chris. I have a lot of Castelli kit and the shirt sizes are all over the place dependant on style. I’m almost the same as you, a tad chunkier but I’m currently working like an SOB to get it off. 320+ K a week the last 4 weeks which is a lot for me. I figured xl and l going off whats been said and what I already have.

  37. FWIW, I’m 6’02’ and weigh 160 lbs. I ordered the Zwarte jersey in large. When it arrived, it was so tight the fabric was bunching up around my armpits to the point of being uncomfortable. I send it back to Frank, and in exchange he sent an XL, which fits much better. Buying cycling clothing over the Internet is always a crapshoot, as each manufacturer cuts their clothing a little differently.

  38. @doubleR

    Even amongst the same brand it can be infuriating. I spotted a sweet deal on a black Castelli wind gilet the a few weeks back, so I purchased it in the same size as my V-Kit jersey (which fits perfectly). Only I was swimming in the gilet. Had to return it. It was probably a “club cut” rather than race cut.

    For my FWIW, I went to a local shop and tried on the most top-of-the-line Castelli stuff they had (rather than the cheap stuff), which helped me get a better idea of how the V-Kit would fit.

  39. Wow, through a little communication error, we missed the second half of the album from Jesse – I’m updating it right now with the latest photos. A few highlights:

    Gianni has got the cannons firing on full tilt here:

    And check out the look of glee on @Bill’s face, countered by the compression of his tires as he’s ripping over the Pavé. We are a sick breed.

  40. @paolo

    The B&W pic just has more romance to it.Thanks Chris. I have a lot of Castelli kit and the shirt sizes are all over the place dependant on style. I’m almost the same as you, a tad chunkier but I’m currently working like an SOB to get it off. 320+ K a week the last 4 weeks which is a lot for me. I figured xl and l going off whats been said and what I already have.

    This is the Castelli race stuff – sized smaller than the stuff you get off the rack for the most part. Look deep into the size chart posted on the gear page, but if you’re on the line between sizes, go up, not down. This stuff is tight.

    I wear a large V-Jersey, and XL V-Bibs, FWIW.

  41. @frank

    Yeah cheers Frank I recall you mentioning that on the last order. I think I know what I need but anyhow this weekend I will be sneaking into LBS’s and trying stuff on before I order like the Bodypaint and Aero race stuff.
    I’m not concerned in the long term about getting it wrong and swapping stuff out or losing money on it..I AM concerned about looking resplendant at the July SF cogal.

  42. @all
    Have another look through Jesse’s photo album at the top; there are about 150 new photos in there, and they are ALL worth looking at.

    The guy is a serious genius for making us look so good!

  43. @Chris
    Love the CAAD rep.

    seems like we had a good representation of frame materials and they all made it in good shape.

  44. @frank
    does Brett ever smile?

  45. @frank
    You all look properly grizzled. Jesse’s photos are great. In particular he does a really nice job converting color to B&W — it’s not a simple matter of pressing a button.

  46. There’s an HD version of the RVV that has a few frames of us on the Kwaremont. You can see William’s face quite clearly, even his arm gestures as he throws his arm up and tells Boonen to fook off to the front of the race!

  47. @frank

    And check out the look of glee on @Bill’s face, countered by the compression of his tires as he’s ripping over the Pavé. We are a sick breed.

    Ha. That was one comment that Jesse kept saying throughout the day – “you’re still smiling!”.

    How could I not? It was painful and difficult. But it was fun.

    Even though it was so rough that my arm warmers kept heading for my wrists.

  48. Fellas – the RVV story all tied up

    Boonen meets the field kid.

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  50. Here is my pitiful strava data from riding Paris Roubaix.  I was soooooo dead by the end I was barely moving.

    http://app.strava.com/activities/24602614

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