The Paris-Roubaix bicycle race, nicknamed "The Hell of the North," is famous for sending riders over brutal cobblestone roads. Only the strong, brave and lucky survive the hours of bone-shaking racing without suffering some mishap or catastrophe. It is so difficult no one wins it by accident, and winning Paris-Roubaix automatically puts a rider among the immortals of the sport. How did that come to be? At one time roads everywhere were paved with cobbles. Why did Paris-Roubaix emerge to be such a special race?
Les Woodland tells the inside story of how one of cycling's classics grew from several 19th century businessmen's plan to bring cycling to the mill town of Roubaix. It wasn't a sure thing, and several times it seemed the race might die. It's a fascinating tale, so fasten your seat belts, Les is going to take you on a bumpy ride.
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Hell of the North!
What a great book. This is an excellent history of the race known as Paris-Roubaix, the springtime one-day classic that features distinctive cobbled roads in the north of France. Cycling history is filled with such amazing characters, as a rule, and the Paris-Roubaix is rife with them. Great stories about riders stopping at pubs, quitting the race, or fighting with spectators; heroic tales of athletes plowing through ridiculously difficult conditions to win this hellish yet somehow irresistible race. The author creates a wonderful portrait of a century, a region, and a parade of legendary cyclists. The narrator is perhaps the worst narrator I have ever heard on Audible, sorry to say (the French pronunciations are quite painful). But if you need to listen rather than read, as I do, try not to let that prevent you from enjoying this cycling history. It's worth the struggle.
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