Sunday, April 19, 2009

Melburn Roobaix

I've been looking forward to this ride for a whole year now and it did not disappoint. This is the fourth running of the event (very) loosely modelled on the great Paris-Roubaix in northern France. Actually, about the only thing in common is the use of bikes and the odd cobblestone.

The Melburn-Roobaix is more a treasure hunt on wheels with each person given a map and list of checkpoints when you register on the morning. So the first activity is to plot all the checkpoints on the map and roughly work out how you'll navigate between them.

And to ensure the 350+ folks don't all leave as one amorphous mob through the city they are split into six groups with each group having a different checkpoint one before converging at check number two.

As you can see from the map, it is a rather circuitous route and since you are navigating your own way between checkpoints often without knowking exactly where you are, it is possible that you are not necessarily taking the shortest distance.

It is a really fun atmosphere. It is not a race (though many try go go as fast as possible) and there are all kinds of people on all kinds of bikes. Of course the single-speed bike is very popular here, but so are regular race bikes, mountain bikes and even dragsters and womens ride-to-the-shop bikes. I am amazed that some of these people got around!

The course this year took us through North Melbourne/Kensington before heading back over towards Carlton and Brunswick. The checkpoints were on some gnarly gravel tracks and the tops of beastly cobbled climbs - more Tour of Flanders than Paris-Roubaix.

All up I covered about 30km in just under to hours.

I've also posted pics from the ride on Flickr.

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