On paper it looked so simple: a bike race, starts at 14:30, different start points for different age groups, all finishing in the famous Roubaix Velodrome. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, first the weather, it was awful, I mean proper awful. It was raining, windy cold – typical Paris Roubaix weather. All the parents slightly twitchy with the conditions making riding the famous Pave sections even more challenging.
We set off to deposit the kids at their start lines. We passed Ollie’s start line on the way to drop Nathan, lots of riders out on the roads warming up. This will be ok I thought.
Nathan left warming up, we headed to drop Ollie with his mates Tom and Cameron. It was the side of a road, beside a cafe in the middle of no where, off he rode into the rain and along the pave. Tom and Cameron’s Dad’s were waiting until they started before making the race back to the finish, so it will all be fine.
It was now getting on for nearly 14:00. We were near Madddie’s drop off but couldn’t quite find it. The Kent’s pulled up alongside us and we are all struggling, Sat Nav kicked in on the phone and the street was found. Hooray. We lost the Kent’s as we u turned and set off, clock ticking. We got close but road blocks stopped us.
I was dropped with Maddie about a mile away, she rode I ran, praying I was heading the right way. We turned onto the road some marshal’s present reassured me I was in the right area, but I still couldn’t see the start. Down the road we ran/cycled in the distance through the rain I could make out some colours and people. Thank God. We made it!
Heart rate through the roof. We saw Finn and his mum but no sign of Oliver Kent. Got on the start line, the lead car, motorcycle and adult riders was doing nothing to reduce my heart rate. Race would start in 5 minutes and we had given up on Oliver when out of no where the familiar Slipstreamers kit was spotted. Cycling solo down to the start. He made it with minutes to spare.
Instructions in French, children oblivious to what was said and they were off, much cheering and clicking of shoes into pedals and into the rain they went. Finn’s Mum managed to get us a lift with a French man and his son back to the Velodrome. We ended up driving alongside the riders, we felt like we were the team car, we got to cheer on Maddie and Oliver but Finn was long gone!
We got to the Velodrome and another run into the finish, heart rate still to high. Missed Maddie’s finish, which was probably for the best, found her and gave her the biggest hug.
Then the whistles started again, signalling the arrival of riders. For the next 45 mins watching riders sliding, falling, running over the finish nearly finished me! The fact there was no sign of Ollie didn’t help. Eventually Ollie returned from the back of the broom wagon and everyone was back together, wet, cold but happy.
All of the kids were amazing, I have huge respect for them all, it was so tough, the pro’s call it the Hell of the North and it truly lived up to its name. Just as my heart rate was returning to normal, Ollie turned to me and said ‘I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year before I can do this again, because we have to come back so I can finish’.
Looks like we will be back to address unfinished business, personally I am hoping to keep my heart rate to a more manageable level next year.
Mini Paris Roubaix 2016 all ready in the diary.