Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The 2009 Paris-Roubaix Challenge,

The 2009 edition of Toronto’s Paris-Roubaix Challenge was a great success. Credit must be given to Heath Cockburn and Ed Veal of the promoting club La Bici Squadra for resurrecting the event after a lapse of a few years. They laid on a great event with plenty of volunteers to help with marshalling, registration and all the other jobs needed with an event like this. Thanks must also go to Rapha for their sponsorship.
The Hell of the North, as the event is now called, was over 95 kms of tough roads and tracks north of Toronto. Weather at the start was dry but cold (-2 degrees C) and there was a strong North West wind that the riders had to battle into for the first forty km.

There were four "sections" of really rough going for a total of about 20Km. The first section was under about a foot of ice-cold water on the day but was better than expected as the air temperature was below freezing. This made the mud at the sides a lot firmer than it had been the day before when the temperature was ten degrees Celsius and the mud was ankle deep.

Section two is the infamous "Trench", fourteen kms. of old railway bed. It was quite fast as the mud was frozen and the wind was at the riders backs but there was still some open water.

Sections three and four, each about 1 km long were just about unrideable by most of the field but the lead guys seemed to manage OK.

An originally routed fifth section through the Durham Forest had to be bypassed due to access problems. However I’m sure that most of the riders were not too upset about that.
Fastest on the day was Cam Jette who got around in 2 hours 55 minutes. That is 32.4 km/hr, not bad under the circumstances. Almost all of the 95 that started finished although the last were at least an hour and a half slower than Cam. The temperature didn't get above freezing for the duration of the event.
Amazingly everyone I spoke to thought it was great and many asked if a similar event could be run in the fall.
Make it tough and they will come back asking for more.

Thanks to Peter Kraiker for the above photos.
Go to his web site http://studiofstop.com/store/Ontarios_Hell_of_the_g99.html for more photos of this event and many others in Ontario.


Phil Koop said...

Thanks for your contribution to this event - it was a lot of fun! Of course, we were lucky with the conditions: maybe next time there'll be freezing rain. The course was much, much slower when I rode it the Thursday before.

By the way, if anyone is wondering, it is a good course for a 1-speed, the only trouble spot being the turn onto Kennedy from Herald where the grade approaches 20%. I personally was not strong enough to go straight up this and had to do the drunken postman. But it's pretty short and a stronger rider should be able to sprint up.

Unknown said...

I noticed some distinctive Rapha caps at Paris-Ancaster this past weekend... it was like seeing a badge of honour for those who participated in this event : ).
The "Challenge" is a great event... nice to see the HOTN back in the mix!