The Hardest of the Hard!

I love this poster. It hits you where it hurts!

The inclement weather today reminds me of my favorite rough and tumble race, Paris-Roubaix. And how appropriate is the poster from the 2006 edition, complete with the bone jarring cobblestone! It's the most beautiful race held pitting mother natures' full fury of rain, wind, muddy ruts/ditches, dust and absolute mayhem against each rider and his trusted steed...the bicycle. And as the gruesome cobblestones provides the truer test to the riders, one can't help but love the adversity.  

Préparation pour la guerre aux pavés...

Back in 1994, pavé specialist Steve Bauer, with the help from Eddy Merckx Cycles conceived an innovative bicycle. The 'Stealth Bike,' provided Bauer to sit farther back offering a bizarre sitting position way back over the rear wheel. Earlier still in 1992, Greg Lemond and his teammates introduced the biggest innovation. They unveiled special front forks used by mountain bike racers and motorcyclists. 

Motards, moto-drivers are aware of the impending dangers. Their moto-cross bikes are the perfect weapon against le pavé!

Tyre manufacturers, Michelin & Continental believe that tyres had to be fatter than normal to absorb shocks, and inflated a little less than usual. Michelin tested 250 tyres in five different temperature & weather conditions just to get the perfect pressure. 

For the 2004 edition.
Magnesium tubes were used in this Pinarello Dogma. Claimed to have greater durability than aluminum.

Further to the present, teams employed two chainrings; a 46/53. The reason is that these two big chainrings won't hop off as the rider attacks the cobbles. If it starts to jump, all the rider has to do is get on the flat and the chain will click back into place. An 11 tooth straight sprocket is used to cut a path through the flats along with 25 centimeter tubular tyres inflated to 8 bars. In wet conditions, they'll be slightly deflated. To help soften the blows, riders insert thick foam padding between the tape and the bar. And to borrow from cyclocross, cantilever brakes are the norm with the wide clearances so that the mud won't clog the calipers. These special cross-bikes are made with extended frames to absorb shock and vibrations. Greater fork rakes are employed to stabilize the bike over the cobblestones. And, unlike the pavé shocked riders that continue to the next race, most of the abused bikes are never used again in a race situation and subsequently retired.

I believe Steve Bauer summed it well as he said, "Paris-Roubaix is like sitting on a pneumatic drill." And,  looking at the poster I'll include the old adage that says it all... 'No Pain, No Gain!'

Cantilever brakes to shed that mud!

Michelin tubeless clinchers.
A special rim design to ensure air tightness with a tubeless tyre at high pressure.
These special tyres were designed with a tread to help shed the mud & water on cobblestones. And, made to lean into the mucky corners of the race.