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A Sunday in Heaven (Paris-Roubaix, sectuer 3)

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

A Sunday in Heaven (Paris-Roubaix, sectuer 3)

Old 04-13-09, 02:13 PM
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A Sunday in Heaven (Paris-Roubaix, sectuer 3)

Last summer, I found myself sipping a rum punch, in Bangkok, talking about cycling with a friends and professional colleagues. While I was the only cyclist in the group, most of the people there were Flemish, and understood my obsession. One of them floated the idea of getting some of the group together, and going to Paris Roubaix. It sounded great, but that was nine months ago, and we weren't completely sober.

So, it was with some surprise, I must admit, when I got a call on Monday, inquiring if I wanted to come for a visit. With the last minute nature of the trip, I didn't do the research that I would have liked to. To be specific, I wasn't 100% sure where I wanted to be, and with no internet connection, I left the task of deciding to my friends. Had I realized how things were going to play out, I would have taken my best camera.

Herewith, the pics.



We left Dunkirk (about an hours drive from Lille at +/- 11:30). We knew we were getting close when we saw signs on the highway, notifying traffic to expect delays due to the race.



As it happens, one of my friends went to high school with someone who works with a pro tour team. He was advised by his friend to try and make our way to Cafe l’Arbre, which was wedged between sectors 3 and 4 of the pavé.

My friends had heard that we might have a chance of getting lunch there, and on top of that, there was supposed to be screen, broadcasting the race. I was dubious, but hopeful.

Unsurprisingly, the GPS had some difficulty finding ancient roman roads, and when we found ourselves wondering which way to go in the village of Cysoing, we found a guy on a Look bicycle, and asked. Little did we know, we were 300 meters away from the end of secteur 3.

We made our way past the Gendarmes, and this is what we saw -



We walked up the road, looking for the Arbre.

Even though it was only 12:30 in the afternoon, and things had yet to hit full swing, things were already swinging.

You name it, they had it:



The Tom Boonen fan club zone.



Feestbeesten.



Aussies.



Kiwis.



As we made our way through the kermis-like atmosphere, we spotted the Arbe in the distance.



We got closer, and the circus got louder.



And louder.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:13 PM
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As it turned out (unsurprisingly) L'Arbre was fully booked. To be specific, it was booked by Lotto, to wine and dine sponsors, clients, VIPS, etc.

So, what to do when you're hungry and thirsty? Grab a beer, and try and find some decent food.



The beer was easy, but we had to do a little walking for food.



After backtracking...



To Flanders in Flandre.



We checked out the news and odds.



And past teams.



Until we found some food.

Even better, next to the frituur was...



Some Sporza coverage.



It proved to be a popular spot.



The fact that we were feet away from the pavé made it even better.

Last edited by botto; 04-13-09 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:14 PM
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The fact that this, was next to the TV tent helped as well.



All of this...



Means this.



And while you're busy watering the fields of flanders, you spot some of it's history.



Apparently they don't teach the dangers of nationalism much these days.


Th rest of the photo reportage continues (momentarily) here.

Last edited by botto; 04-14-09 at 02:24 AM.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:15 PM
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nice shots

color me green with envy
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Old 04-13-09, 02:19 PM
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Sweet.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:21 PM
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Wow, great report and pics. An F1 Grand Prix and a Grand Tour are at the top of the list of things I want to do next time I go to Europe.

Mac
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Old 04-13-09, 02:22 PM
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Thanks Botto....Next best thing to being there...
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Old 04-13-09, 02:22 PM
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Thank you.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:23 PM
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Awesome!
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Old 04-13-09, 02:23 PM
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Awesome.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:31 PM
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Great pics Botto!

One honestly-curious question though. Each year seems to have its bit of chaos where sections of the road are packed with spectators. Some sections look like the riders have only a few inches of clearance as they ride by. It looks like complete madness. Do you have any thoughts on what the attraction is to this and why it's allowed?
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Old 04-13-09, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by palesaint View Post
Great pics Botto!

One honestly-curious question though. Each year seems to have its bit of chaos where sections of the road are packed with spectators. Some sections look like the riders have only a few inches of clearance as they ride by. It looks like complete madness. Do you have any thoughts on what the attraction is to this and why it's allowed?
many.

will elaborate once i get the pics of the pros up on the blog.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:43 PM
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Thanks botto that was cool and looked like alot of fun
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Old 04-13-09, 02:44 PM
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Old 04-13-09, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by garysol1 View Post
Thanks Botto....Next best thing to being there...
Great although Botto's pics are- There is only one thing like being there.

And unless you have experienced Europeans and Cycling passion You have not lived- And if you survive the Hospitality- you know you have lived.
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Old 04-13-09, 02:49 PM
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Great post botto - thanks!
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Old 04-13-09, 03:00 PM
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Great stuff...thanks!
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Old 04-13-09, 03:06 PM
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The second part, with the few pics of the pros that I took, is up here.
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Old 04-13-09, 03:10 PM
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That's awesome! I know the waiting is part of the whole experience, but how much "action" is there, from the passing of the first to the last rider?

I got to see the Cholet TT at the 2008 TDF, I liked that because you got to see riders starting and finishing all day long. But I'd really like to go to a famous climb and be part of the day-long wait to see the peleton pass by.
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Old 04-13-09, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by botto View Post
The second part, with the few pics of the pros that I took, is up here.

Awesome pics and well written. Thanks again...
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Old 04-13-09, 03:27 PM
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Old 04-13-09, 03:28 PM
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Thanks for sharing the pics!
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Old 04-13-09, 03:33 PM
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Very nice.

Pictures like these help to get my wife interested in bike racing. Especially the country side and historic photos. She'd love to go - even if it was for bike racing reasons.

Last edited by substructure; 04-13-09 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 04-13-09, 04:31 PM
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really enjoyed this thread.
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Old 04-13-09, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by substructure View Post
Very nice.

Pictures like these helps to get my wife interested in bike racing. Especially the country side and historic photos. She'd love to go - even if it was for bike racing reasons.
tell your wife that it's a family affair.



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