Mastering the Cobbles: Your guide to riding the Paris Roubaix Sportive.

When it comes to conquering the cobbles of the Paris Roubaix Sportive, having the right equipment and preparation is crucial. Our very own 'Stig', Adam Latcham, led the charge when we put the Pearson Shift road bike to the test, with great success. Not only did he finish the gruelling race in the Roubaix velodrome, but he did so in one piece. Inspired by his triumph, we've compiled the ultimate guide to help you excel in this prestigious event next year, from training tips to logistical considerations.
Pearson Shift paris roubaix sportive carbon bike

A Brief History of the Paris Roubaix Pro Race

The Paris Roubaix professional race, first held in 1896, covering a 280km course, is renowned for its multiple iconic cobblestone (pavé) sectors, and has taken place 120 times since then. Nicknamed the "Queen of the Classics" or the "Hell of the North," it is one of the oldest and most prestigious one-day races in professional cycling. Over the years, Paris Roubaix has witnessed legendary battles and unforgettable moments, cementing its status as a must-watch event for cycling enthusiasts worldwide.

Pearson Shift paris roubaix sportive carbon cobbles pave start section 1

Entering the Paris Roubaix Sportive

Securing a spot in the Paris Roubaix Sportive 260km is a sought-after opportunity for cyclists worldwide. Registration typically opens several months before the race day, and spots fill up quickly. To improve your chances of securing a spot, monitor the official website Paris Roubaix Sportive and register your interest.

Training and Preparation

Training for the Paris Roubaix Sportive requires a specific focus on endurance, bike handling skills, and navigating rough terrain. Here's a comprehensive training plan to prepare for the challenge:

  1. Endurance Rides: Gradually increase the distance of your rides, aiming for at least one long ride per week to build endurance.
  2. Cobblestone Practice: Seek out roads or trails with uneven surfaces (most of Surrey in our experience) to simulate the cobbled sections of the race. Practice maintaining control and finding the smoothest line.
  3. Strength Training: Incorporate exercises targeting the core, legs, and upper body to improve stability and power.
  4. Interval Training: Integrate intervals into your training regimen to enhance speed and anaerobic capacity, essential for surging over the cobbled sectors.

Ensure your bike is in optimal condition by scheduling regular maintenance checks leading up to the event.

Pearson Shift paris roubaix sportive carbon top tube

Tips for Riding Fast Over Cobblestones

To navigate the cobbled sections with speed and confidence, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Maintain Momentum: Approach the cobblestones with sufficient speed to carry momentum through the rough terrain.
  2. Relax Your Grip: Grip the handlebars firmly but avoid tensing up excessively. Keep your upper body relaxed to absorb vibrations and maintain control. Wrap your handlebars with two layers of gel tape to help absorb some of the impact from ratting across the pave.
  3. Stay Seated: Whenever possible, remain seated to maximise traction and stability. Stand only when necessary to power through particularly rough sections.
  4. Choose Your Line Wisely: Look ahead and anticipate the smoothest path through the cobbles. Aim for the crown of the road or the sides where the cobblestones may be slightly less jarring.
  5. Float Over the Cobblestones: Instead of fighting against the uneven surface, allow your bike to 'float' over the cobblestones by slightly lifting your weight off the saddle. Work on your core for this!
Pearson Shift paris roubaix sportive carbon cobbles pave

Testing the Pearson Shift Road Bike

We had the opportunity to test ride the Pearson Shift road bike, equipped with a 700x30mm tubeless tire setup at 60psi. This configuration proved ideal for maintaining speed and grip while helping absorb the merciless pounding of cobblestones. With its robust frame and stable geometry, the Pearson Shift delivered a smooth and controlled ride over the challenging terrain. Its ability to absorb vibrations and maintain traction instilled confidence, allowing us to tackle the cobbles with speed and agility.

Pearson Shift paris roubaix sportive carbon bike carbon wheels 60 psi

Watching the Pros and Logistics

In addition to participating in the sportive, witnessing the professional race adds another layer of excitement to the Paris Roubaix experience. Plan your trip accordingly to catch the pros in action before the sportive.

For travelers from the UK, consider various transportation options, including Eurostar, ferry crossings, or driving. Book accommodation well in advance, considering proximity to the race start and finish areas. Options range from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels in Lille or Roubaix.

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Participating in the Paris Roubaix Sportive is a dream come true for cycling enthusiasts, offering the chance to ride in the tracks of legends. It's nothing short of an out of body experience, mainly meaning you wish you could leave your own body after several sections of mind altering pave, however completing the course and crossing the line in the Roubaix velodrome is hugely rewarding.

With proper training, preparation, and the right equipment, you can conquer the cobbles of the Hell of the North and make unforgettable memories along the way.

Read next - Conquering the Strade Bianche >



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