The cobblestone in cycling is one of the recurring and most controversial topics in cycling debates. With him, there is no middle ground. Either you love or you hate. Four Aragonese cycling enthusiasts decided last weekend to discover their own impression. And apparently they are of the first group, because several of them they had the honor of kissing him. This is the story of a week of pure passion which ended last Sunday with the dreams of being able to enjoy Paris-Roubaix in situone of the 5 great classics of the world of cycling, also called monuments.
A group of friends to whom athletics allowed them to meet and cycling united them even more. Between 33 and 57 years old, Chema, Joserra, Víctor and Alberto rented a caravan, with their bikes on board of course, and set off on an adventure. “Víctor and I went two years ago to attend the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, another monument, and since then we had planned this trip”, admits Alberto Galán, one of them. The rest of the passengers joined the expedition and departed on Tuesday. The first leg took place on Wednesday in Flemish Brabant, Belgium, where the Flecha Brabanzona was being played that day.a little classic but the best way to warm up the engines.
Thursday and Friday were devoted to visiting different regions of the Belgian country, the cradle of cycling. An obligatory stop was the characteristic walls through which the Tour of Flanders passes, another great test, including the area where the finish line is located. But seeing the places they have seen so many times on television was not enough for them, who wanted to put themselves in the shoes of cyclists and be the protagonists of a day, so on Saturday, they signed up for the 70-kilometre Paris-Roubaix cycling tour. “We are used to tests like the Quebrantahuesos, so we thought this distance was affordable for us,” Alberto explains. And he was right, the distance was not the problem, but the hardness of the course was. “It’s just that the cobblestone is another world, it’s not always the big slopes that are the most complicated” exclaims the Aragonese.
“The cobblestone is another world, you have to touch these stones to get used to the idea”
Mechanical problems, punctures and falls. Not without suffering, but all four managed to complete the test. That yes, as soon as they finished, they had to pay a visit to the hospital since Joserra, the worst unemployed of the four, suffered a cut on his face that required several stitches. A scratch that compensated with the possibility of having lived the experience. “Now we know what the hell in the north is. We suffered it in our flesh. You have to touch these stones to get the idealaughs Alberto. And this is the name by which Paris-Roubaix is popularly known, due to its difficulty and hardness.
On Sunday, turn to the professionals. “Checking out how fast they go when they pass you two inches from the face is impressive. And even more when the day before we had been there ourselves and we knew what it costsays Joserra, who was impressed by the pained faces the cyclists were seen with: “You can see they’re having a really bad time.” But more than the race itself, the four friends were impressed by the atmosphere that forms around the event. “In this region, border between France and Belgium, cycling is a religion and Paris-Roubaix day is experienced as if it were a national holiday. The passion with which you live there is unique and it is not comparable to that of other countries, nor with Italy,” says Joserra. And it is precisely in this country that they aim to live another adventure, in the Milan-San Remo or the Giro de Lombardia. “We haven’t arrived home and we are already thinking about the next one,” they say.
Traditionally, Spain is a country in which the grand tours have been followed with much more attention for weeks, but they are in love with the classics. “Only one wins and they play everything in one round and in one day, so the competitiveness and the emotion are much higher. It’s more offensive cycling”, testifies Alberto, who sets the group’s next objective: “Being able to be in the 5 major monuments would be a dream“.