Southwold Roubaix, 13th April 2019

The “Roubaix” part of the title is a tribute to the professional Paris-Roubaix cycle race that took place the day after this event. It’s raced over cobbles, what appear to be little better than farm tracks and some tarmac; it’s brutal and takes its toll on the riders in the form of accidents, broken bikes and sheer exhaustion. Fortunately only a little of the latter in my case!

Ostensibly a 75 mile ride but has 4 off-road sections – 1 compulsory (and easy) and 3 optional: I only rode one of the optional ones – several miles along a road which gradually petered out into a sandy and bumpy track. I was glad I had ridden it but also glad when I got to the end of it: not really my scene, especially on a road bike and I knew the other sections were very muddy and much more challenging. Had I completed all 4 sections it would have taken 7 miles off the total distance – however, I managed to miss a turning and added about another 10 miles in error instead. My Garmin bike computer had shut down when I stopped for lunch and wouldn’t get going properly again until I finally realised I hadn’t seen any other riders and must have gone off course and switched it off and back on again.

Well it was a day with all the weathers you could expect in one day – bright (but cold) sunshine, wind, hail, sleet, snow – settling briefly on my arms. I was intentionally taking things easy to try to avoid cramp, but with a poorly functioning Garmin I had no real idea of my speed, how far I’d already ridden and how far still to go.

But it was a good ride – I’d been thinking how much I was really enjoying it shortly before the sun disappeared and the hail etc took its place! One highlight of the day, however, was the sight of a very tall cyclist apparently holding up traffic approaching Framlingham: he was riding a Penny-farthing! The town was very busy and a bit hilly on the way in but this chap took it all in his stride – even having to dismount and re-mount very gracefully in the town centre.

Another highlight was the mobile cafĂ© at the end – decent food and drinks and all the chairs had the names of top cyclists on them. I had to sit on the chair with “Merckx” – hero of my youth, though I could also have sat on the one with “Thomas” (someone else sitting on Froome’s).

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