Friday, April 8, 2011

Paris Roubaix anyone?

Photo Sirotti/

I thought I'd bring to your attention to the exciting and amazing bicycle race going on in Europe this Sunday, one of the single most difficult and dangerous one day races anywhere. It's called the Paris Roubaix. It's a one-day race, part of what they call the Spring Classics over in Europe. A few years ago, American cycling heart throb George Hincapie crashed in the Paris Roubaix due to a broken steerer tube.

Here is an account of last year's race
, soundly won by Swiss heart throb (I know, lots of heart throbs in cycling IMO) Fabian Cancellara (and my own personal favorite). His nickname is Spartacus. Though he's more of a one-day specialist, he always plays an important role as a domestique in the 3-week Tour de France, so get to know him well if you don't already (that is, if you plan to follow the Tour de France with me and create an exciting TDF program in your own Spininng/IC program this year)!

This would be a very fun race to simulate in your indoor cycling/Spinning® classes. Unfortunately I am not going to do this profile in my own classes this week, so I can't give you a specific profile with cueing, but if you want a really cool race to create your own, here are some of the links you'll need to learn more.

First of all, here is the official website with the profile and map. The race goes from Paris to Roubaix in the north of France, near the Belgium border. It's 258km long - that's a bruising 160 miles in one day! It's not over any major hills, but traverses something even more trecherous and challenging - Pavé! Pavé is French for "cobbles", and there are 27 sections of this race that go over cobblestones ranging from a few hundred meters to several miles, sometimes so rough and rugged that they gobble up tires and body parts. Add in a little bit of rain (common in this time of year) and you've got a very slippery recipe for disaster. We all know that the more dangerous a sport is, the more people like to watch it, right? Then Paris Roubaix should satisfy the most sadistic sports fan anywhere, even those who profess to hate cycling!

This is a great description of the cobblestone sections, with incredible closeup photos. It jars your teeth and bones just to look at the pictures - can you imagine doing that for 160 miles? Here, Joe Lindsay of Bicycling magazine tells you what to watch for at this year's Paris Roubaix. In his article, he provides a couple of links on how to watch the event live on your computer.

This is a video of Fabian Cancellara training on the cobblestone section. It gives you a good glimpse of the jarring that is going on.

Thinking about doing a Paris Roubaix ride in your Spinning classes? My only suggestion is don't do anything "literal" on your indoor bike to simulate the cobblestones! The most literal thing you can do is to get them out of the saddle in a big gear (which the riders will have to do for much of the secteurs pavés). You can describe the cobbles and you can tell them they have to focus intently....but don't have them jiggle and shake! ;-) I have to put that in here because we all know instructors who might just decide to take this a little too literally.... There is only so much that you can mimic. Simulate the excitement, the trepidation, the mental games, the incredible focus, the big gear challenge, the endurance challenge....but not the jarring effect.

For music use any fun French music you can find. Here is an older blog post with some French music suggestions that you can use.

Maybe in a few weeks I'll put together a Paris Roubaix profile. Next week is my final week of a 12-week cycling clinic, and once that is over I'll have some more time to be creative. The great thing about this ride is you can do it anytime of the year. Most indoor cycling students will have no idea when it actually takes place!

Allez Allez!

1 comment:

Jennifer Sage said...

Someone contacted me and said that the riders would be most likely SITTING IN the saddle through the cobblestone sections, not standing up. This is true for the most part, but there will be times that they need to get out of the saddle too, to accelerate and/or to give their bodies a break from the jarring. I know when I'm on a mountain bike going through a rough section with a lot of bouncing and jarring, I stand up and let my legs act as shock absorbers - it's much easier on the body.

So do both! You probably would not be out of the saddle for long though. There are no big climbs on this profile.

Want BOTH cobbles AND climbs? Then simulate the Tour of Flanders! Better known as the Ronde van Vaanderen (it's real name in Flemish) it's got it all.

On that website you can see the short steep (VERY steep) climbs cause carnage all over the place. Note how they are both in and out of the saddle. Also note how on the profile there is one short steep climb after another.