Benjamin Sharp here with the National Junior Team in Europe. We're getting ready for Paris-Roubaix--looking forward to it, and the event as a whole.
I know it's going to be nuts considering we are on the course at the same time as the professionals. Estimates say that close to one million people see the pro race and 500,000 or so see the junior race. We went down there yesterday to ride the last 85km of the course. We do a 35km loop before entering the pro course with 85km to go. Yep, 27.7 km of that is on 16 sectors of cobbles. I rode with the guys yesterday and let me tell you, those cobbles are insanely ridiculous. I know all of us have romanticized this event and who hasn't imagined himself, when rolling over some rough road somewhere, as Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle, Steve Bauer, Johan Musseuw, Tom Boonen, or Fabian Cancellera in the closing kilometers of the "L'enfer du Nord"? I'm here to tell you, the roughest alley in Old City has NOTHING on these crazy-ass roads. It is absurd how rough these stones are. My hands cramped after 50km and I have two blisters on my palms to show for my efforts. The athletes that finish this event (let alone WIN!) deserve all the recognition they receive, and much, much more. I tip my baret to them. It's nuts.
Western Europe is enjoying its warmest spring in years and it looks like it will be about >70 and sunny on Sunday. It hasn't rained here in a couple weeks so the dust, it will be a-flyin'. A good thing, considering I have no concept of what it must be like to do this thing in the rain. No freakin' way.
I hope everyone is well in Philly.