Why Roubaix is the greatest

I imagine that the overwhelming majority of ya’ll, out there, know that the road race Paris-Roubaix was run yesterday.  If for no other reason than I already mentioned the winner, Johan Vansummeren.  I’ve been drawn into following pro road racing over the last year, and in it’s good moments has become a far, far more rewarding and time consuming pursuit than other things I’m loath to admit I read (occasionally!  very occasionally!) on the ‘net.  Once you pass a certain threshold of knowledge and familarity, it really does become quite enthralling.

One feature of Paris-Roubiax is the fanatic, creepy romanticism given over to the race, its mystique, and its history.  Other races get comparable treatment, however.  A perhaps unique feature of the Roubaix build-up is the obsession with “new” technology, which when combined with more of the aforementioned almost erotic obsession with roundish rocks makes the whole thing a particular event for the fan.

But why all the bother?  Why all the obsession with gnarly stretches of the route and equipment?  Sounds a lot like mountain biking to me.

And Paris-Roubiax is as close to mountain biking as pro road racing gets: therein lies the appeal, the aura, and the obsession.  As numerous pundits, professional and amateur point out, P-R is so hard that more than 50% of the field finishing is considered a good or easy year.  It all points to the greatest interest in sport being struggles against obstacles super human.  Having a course that punishes lazy equipment choices is good, too.

And one final piece of fetishization (the first scene of Hushovd is a nice instruction in how to ride rough terrain):

6 responses to “Why Roubaix is the greatest”

  1. It IS the greatest. I grew up watching it in the 90’s. My dad was a cycling nut and my brother became a pro cyclist. It’s always been my favorite pro race. I can’t say I follow it anymore though.

  2. Yesterday’s was a nailbiter to the end. Worth getting up early to watch live.

  3. I watched the second video you posted about 30 minutes ago and I thought to myself, I bet Dave would like this ; )

    I requested that the PR be displayed at the local coffee shop that plays Le Tour every year but they told me they wouldn’t be showing it so I did not view. How do you view it? I’ve looked into Versus subscriptions but their website instantly confuses me and I always leave, would love to learn more.

  4. Sam, steephill.tv is your friend. They present a nice encyclopedia of live streams for most races. You even get a choice of languages!

  5. Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll check it out.

  6. This is M writing –

    I admit I didn’t watch the second video till today and DANG do their upper arm muscles giggle like crazy…

    little creepy actually, that’s where all my attention went, straight to the super giggly upper arms…

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