Spring is in the air and that means all over the continent men are squeezing on their lycra and pumping up their racing tyres; yes, it’s time for the Spring Classics, Alez!
The Spring Classics are a series of outdoor cycling races that take place across Northern France and Belgium. They are some of the toughest one day events in Europe.
The ‘daddy’ of them all is the Paris-Roubaix race, otherwise known as the Hell of the North. It’s a one day classic that covers a stonking 260km across some of the toughest roads in France. This year it will take place on Sunday 8th April.
It got its rather intimidating nickname way back when it started. It was just after the First World War, and the entire landscape between Paris and Roubaix had been blown to smithereens. Everywhere trenches and craters littered the landscape, mud and ruined farmhouses were all that remained.
Against this desperate landscape those first hardened cyclists pitted their resolve, as they stretched and strained their way to the distant finishing line. Today this demonic challenge has been recreated by placing large sections of the route over bone jarring cobbles. Yes, that’s right, these guys actually choose to race each other across vast distances over cobbles –guaranteed to loosen screws and unhinge you permanently.
This is considered by many an ardent tough guy to be the single hardest one day race in the world, and the finishing line is at the Roubaix Velodrome on Sunday 8th April; just a short drive from Calais. Anyone out there who considers themselves to be a bit ‘Chuck Norris’ is strongly advised to get themselves down there and have a look at what a proper action hero looks like.
Roubaix is a short drive from the Port of Calais. You can reach it via P&O Ferries on one of its 25 daily crossings.