While any cycling aficionado will know that Spartacus was slaying them at Paris-Roubaix this weekend, there was a slightly lesser version of the cobbled classic taking place in Wellington.
Welly-Roubaix; Hell of the North (Island) was cooked up in my imagination during the week, and after a bit of social networking we garnered a small posse of traditionalists and masochists for our own taste of dirt, rocks and dust on skinny tyres.
As per tradition, Hataitai velodrome was to be the finishing point, and beers were on ice for our return. The peloton consisted of myself, Alex, Rigid, Fraser (in old school Brooklyn jersey which was bursting at the seams), Paul and Brigit. We picked up Mike (not Mini-Me) out at Petone, and then it was time for the gravel to commence. No-one knew if this was going to be a good idea or pure futility, but as soon as we climbed over the gate, and Fraser launched off the front, any doubts were dispelled and the good times rolled.
At least until the punctures began. What’s a cobbled classic without mechanicals, after all? Brigit and Alex were first victims, then I heard the dreaded hiss from Mike’s bike as he hammered along beside me. I asked Fraser if we should wait, and being the old Euro pro, he said “they wouldn’t wait in Roubaix”. Karma would get him soon after though, and by the time the lighthouse turnaround was reached, there were only three survivors. Rigid, Paul and I headed back into the headwind, and found Fraser where we’d left him, pulling the old Euro pro move of the wheel in the air. Apparently old Euro pros forget to pack tubes.
A quick fix, back into the wind and then a second puncture. I told Fraser if it happened again he was on his own. We met the other deflation victims at the gate, and took off back to the city. A few sprints and a climb later, we were inside the velodrome for the finishing lap. One wasn’t enough though, and we mocked up several sprint finishes for prosperity. Everyone got into the spirit of the day and had more fun than expected, and talk is of a mid-winter repeat ride. Because mud was really all that was missing.