L’enfer du Nord I

translation from French: hell of the North

“Hell of the North” is the nickname for the Paris Roubaix Bicycle race, a one-day professional bicycle road race in northern France near the Belgian frontier. Since its beginning in 1896 until 1967 it started in Paris and ended in Roubaix (hence the name). Since 1968 the start city is Compiègne (about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north-east from Paris center), whilst the finish is still in Roubaix. Finishing the race actually consists of doing one round on the Velodrome of Roubaix.

The race is most famous for its rough terrain and more particulary, its coblestone tracks (participants usually receive one coblestone, or sett, after finishing the race) and is the main cause for punctured tires, bloody knees, broken bikes and grown men crying.

This is not why the race earned the name, “Hell of the North”. It was first  mentioned by a  group of organisers and reporters who, in 1919, went out to check how much of the route had survived the the First World War. Apparently, “hell” was the only appropriate term.

Comments are closed.