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Hell of a good time—Melburn-Roobaix

By Andy White

Cyclists must be sadists. Why else would they enjoy being told what to do, where to go, and to do it when they are told?

Melburn-Roobaix, a twist of the Queen of the Classsics, Paris-Roubaix, started beneath clear blue skies. 

In only two years of rolling by fyxomatosis, it has blossomed into one of the highly anticipated dates on the Melbourne cycling calendar, reaching the cut-off rider limit of 200 is testament to this. The central theme was fun, with the thrill of navigating hidden corners of the city, stopping for compulsory coffee en route, and riding with friends, old and new.

Riders of fixed, free, geared, knobbied tyred and slick, rigid and suspended, all gathered at the cities most central location. From there, they were thrown into the heavy weekend pedestrian traffic, searching for a list of “pave” to be handed to them in amongst a swelling crowd of football fans also gathering at the first checkpoint.

The 13 sections of pave would take them over some of the steepest, longest, and roughest cobbled alleys, streets and lanes in pursuit of glory—the glory of cycling with friends.

Halfway through the day, as the field approached the turn, the clouds opened, making the cobbled sections into perilous, muddy rock gardens.
The first riders home to Brunswick’s bumpy velodrome were greeted by Wagner’s cathartic “Flight of the Valkyries” from the track’s PA. Arms raised triumphantly, the first rider across the line broke the tape and thanked his domestiques for their hard work in helping him beat a local courier, if only narrowly, who had carried his own PA system for the ride blasting out AC/DC with the aid of a battery buried in his bag.

Slowly the remainder of the field rolled in, wet, filthy, and grinning ear to ear. “That was the best ride I’ve ever done!”

With a gold pave trophy and a bottle of bubbly for first across the line, the real prizes were raffled off in the comfort of a nearby pub. Thanks to Shifterbikes and CTA for their kindness. Riders swapped stories of near misses, mechanical failures, routes taken, and how Col d’Ugly gets steeper every year, over a well earned beer. 

The only question on everyones mind—where will it go next year?

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