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Paris-Rubaix 2012 - A Spectator’s View

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April 6th, 2013

1985 was the first time I watched television coverage of Paris-Roubaix - the most awesome single-day bike race ever known to man - arguably the most awesome sporting event.

I was struck by the men who wrestled their bikes for nearly 160 miles in weather not fit for man or beast and on roads that barely seemed passable on foot, much less on 25mm wide bicycle tires.

The spectacle - fans, media, the caravan, left its mark on me.  I dreamed of some day racing on the same terrible, treacherous, and glorious cobble-stoned “roads.” 

I never acquired the skill or strength or nerve to ride those roads, however, but I was fortunate enough last April, to view the race in person.  Words and pictures do not do the historic stones justice. They stand jagged and dusty or muddy - always slippery. The road itself is rippled and grooved and worn. There is literally nothing rideable about it.

Yet not only do the men ride the road, they race it - attack it. As I watched, their suffering was palpable.

The start of the 2013 version is hours away and I can’t wait to watch. To get you in the mood, here is a snippet of the tv coverage I watched in 1985 and below is poorly edited clip of footage I shot as I stood alongside thousands adoring fans in the northern French countryside.

Enjoy!

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