Showing posts with label L'Enfer du Nord. Show all posts
Showing posts with label L'Enfer du Nord. Show all posts

10 July 2012

L'Enfer du DUMBO

I've been to Hell.

All right.  I confess (Do you still go to Hell if you confess):  I wrote that first sentence to get your attention.  I didn't see lakes of fire or papal prelates or industrial/military plutocrats with encased in ice up to their necks.  And I didn't have an out-of-body experience.

But I did ride over something that, on a fixed-gear bike, can very closely resemble Hell:

Riding over this street made me think of the Paris-Roubaix race, often called L'Enfer du Nord (The Hell of the North).  Every year in April, the race organizers look for the roads in northern France and Belgium with the pointiest cobblestones or with all sorts of other hazards.

Bernard Hinault is a five-time Tour de France winner and very old-school racer:  Unlike, say, Lance, he used to ride--and, very often, win--all sorts of races all over Europe.  But he flatly refused to ride in L'Enfer.  It's hard to blame him:  He had chronic tendinitis in one knee, a condition that caused him to abandon the 1980 Tour de France while he was wearing the leader's yellow jersey.  Finally, the following year, he rode Paris- Roubaix--the only time he would do so--and won.  

Wouldn't you like to see a race like that run through DUMBO, where I took the photo?  From there, such a race could spin through other nearby industrial areas along the Brooklyn waterfront.  There are also other areas--most of them industrial or post-industrial--with Belgian cobblestones like the ones you see in the photo.  

When I had a mountain bike with shocks, I used to ride over those streets for fun.  The experience was still jarring, because most mountain bike shocks are designed to keep the bike stable rather than to cushion the rider.  It's the kind of joyously harebrained thing you do when you're young--or, as I was, full of testosterone (and, possibly, other substances).  

After bouncing along the DUMBO cobblestones, I stopped in Recycle A Bicycle, where I have been volunteering.  The young woman there was working on this bike:

She assured me that the paint job was as it appeared to me; I was not seeing an optical illusion induced by the ride I'd just done!

21 July 2011

Hotter Than...

Today was so hot...

Today was hotter than...

Today has been one of those days when, it seems, everyone has his or her own version of one of those two declarations.  Today was so hot that my lycra melted off me.

I could have used that line a few years ago.  These days, I don't own any lycra bike clothes, or much of anything in lycra.  So I have to come up with something new, I guess.

Being the religious sort that I am (ha, ha), I can't say hotter than aitch-ee-double-toothpick.  But it seems that a bunch of riders in Texas can.  They even have a ride named after it:  The Hotter 'N Hell 100

Now, I'll admit, I have never been to HHH (the last "H" is for "Hundred") or, for that matter, Wichita Falls, Texas.  But if it's even hotter than it is today, or they have days like this every day for months on end (as they have in the part of Florida where my parents live), I'm not so sure I'd want to go there, at least at this time of year.  

Now, I have ridden in the mid-afternoon heat of days even hotter than this.  So I suppose that I could condition myself for HHH.  After all, I have ridden a hundred miles on days when the temperature reached 100 F.  I admit, though, I haven't done anything like that in a while.

But something about the ride intrigues me.  Well, any ride with aitch-ee-double-toothpick in its name is bound to get my attention. The grandparent of all such rides is, of course, l'Enfer du Nord, or the aitch-ee-double-toothpick of the North, otherwise known as the Paris-Roubaix. It's held in early spring every year, and the weather has ranged from hot and dusty to windy and snowy--and everything in between.  At least, anyone who signs up for HHH knows it's going to be hot, or so I imagine.

Is that hot weather guaranteed?  If the day turns out, by some chance, to be more like a perfect spring day--say, 70 degrees F without a cloud in the sky or much humidity--can the participants demand a refund of their registration fees?

Hmm...What if a cyclo-cross race were held and all the mud dried?  Or what if there were no snow for Iditarod?  What would people do?

If you're reading this and you're going to ride in HHH, I wish you well.  Have fun!