Hell of the Northcote – Melburn Roobaix

By Jake ‘Cobba’ Stevens

“It’s like the Paris Roubaix, but shorter and sillier.”

My first ever Melburn Roobaix was one of my favourite rides I’ve ever done. Like its older, professional cousin, the Melburn Roobaix sends riders over tough terrain, including excruciating cobblestone alleyways.

The aim of the day is to have fun. It is not a race. Nicknamed ‘Hell of the Northcote’, there is a constant good sense of humour through the day, and many fun cycling jokes and friendly people to meet.

Once arriving at Hawthorn reserve, registered riders receive a map and directions to the 12 pavé sections hidden in inner-city Melbourne. The mission is to locate, traverse and move along to the next section of bumpy, cobbled street.

A lot of people get dressed for the occasion, wearing everything from bomb squad suits to leopard skin lyrca, all in the theme of cycling. Every bike can be seen, old or new, fixed or free, geared or singlespeed, one wheel or two, blinged up or bashed up.

There are no rules to directions or who prizes for coming first (although a trip to real event in Paris is a prize to a lucky raffle winner), and you are almost expected to get lost amongst the laneways and certainly find yourself at a pub or a coffee shop.

One of the highlights of the day is the dreaded Koppenberg. This cobbled hillside is sure to snap one’s frame and patience, but reaching the summit amongst the cowbells and cheering crowd is definitely worthwhile.

Finishing with a lap of the Brunswick velodrome, the welcoming atmosphere and have-a-go attitude makes this Melburn Roobaix event one of the best days you can have on a bike.

See some of my photos of the day can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobba/sets/72157630294669862/with/7446293970/

Avoir une belle balade.






About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

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