France is a wonderful country. In a 5-hour TGV ride you can go from here…
…to here. And if you’re lucky you have a return ticket.
I spent 4 days last week in Le Nord, searching out pavé while Shoko worked on a film in Tourcoing. Arriving mid-afternoon on Thursday, I had just enough time to slap on some lycra (and wool…and everything else I owned to keep me warm) and head out of Lille to shake out the cobwebs.
One of the first things that hit you up here, if you get off the main roads anyway, is that it’s not just the Paris-Roubaix sectors that are cobbled – many of the farmers’ roads are still paved this way. Above was a road I took to get to the P-R route that was every bit as dodgy as the real thing. The amazing thing, of course, is that there was a time not that long ago when nearly all the roads were made this way.
And this IS the real thing – the final straight on Sector 10: Mons-en-Pévèle. I thought that we’d be coming down here on Sunday to see the race, so wanted to scope it out beforehand. If you have the staying power you’ll find out what ever happened to that plan, but you’ll need to get through two more blog posts first. Good luck!