Paris-Roubaix is excellent, but it's very hard to replicate it in its full glory outside of northern France. So here are a few ways you can make your rides feel more like the Hell of the North
Cake yourself head-to-toe in mud before you set off
A by-product of riding the Paris-Roubaix cobbles is the amount of dust and mud that gets sprayed up into your face. Granted, most of that is by the television motorbikes at the race, but to get to full experience you should find your nearest muddy puddle and roll about in it for a while.
Actively seek out potholes and areas of rough road
If you want the full Paris-Roubaix experience you should seek out the roughest roads you can possibly find in your local area. Potholes are a great way to replicate the Roubaix cobbles.
If it adds some distance to your journey, don’t worry because Paris-Roubaix is over 250km long, so it’s all adding to the experience.
Fall off a lot
It’s virtually impossible to stay upright on muddy cobbles, or even bone dry cobbles. So find a safe place and just topple off your bike at high speed several times.
Ride in the gutter to avoid the road surface
Many of the professionals don’t bother actually riding on the cobbles, instead favouring the slightly smoother gutters at the side of the road.
Do the same on your ride to work and leave the actual dangerous part of the road to the car drivers.
Strap bricks to your wheels with gaffer tape
No explanation needed…
Dislocate all the joints in both arms
Ride over enough potholes and this could be done for you, but if you want to know what it’s like to ride over 52km of cobblestones in northern France just get a loved one to break your wrists, elbows and shoulders and that should do it.
Your essential guide to 2017 Paris-Roubaix
Get a mate to stand halfway and hold a wheel up in the air
Punctures are so common in Paris-Roubaix teams get people to stand along the route with spare wheels. If you’ve got a mate who doesn’t mind an early morning, arrange for them to be stationed around the halfway mark and offer assistance when you go past.
It’s common courtesy to accept it, but you’ve got better things to be worried about than manners, so sail past them as if they weren’t there.
Attach a large flag to the front of your helmet
Fans at Paris-Roubaix love waving flags right in the faces of the riders that go past. To replicate this get a huge flag (6ft by 4ft is ideal) and tie it to the vents at the front of your helmet.
The less you can see the better – this will help you accomplish falling off and dislocating your wrists if you’re too scared to do them of your own volition.
Break several key components on your bike before the end of the ride
All those rough roads will see even the best bikes fall apart at the seams. To get the full effect of this just kick your rear derailleur when you’re near the office to ensure you only have one gear to use in the final stages.
If you’re really dedicated you can get off your bike and jump up and down on it for a few minutes before wobbling across the finish line.
Do one and a half laps of your office before parking your bike
Unless you work at a velodrome it’s probably quite tricky to recreate the iconic finish on the Roubaix track. To get around this circle your office building one and a half times before you lock your bike up.
Get someone to take a picture of you looking exhausted
You’re covered in mud, your bike is smashed to pieces, you have injuries that you should probably go to hospital for…the only other thing to do is slump on the floor and get someone to photograph you giving your best 1000-yard stare.
Write your name in the shower cubicle
Every winner of Paris-Roubaix gets their name on a little plaque in a shower cubicle at the velodrome. Making a plaque with your name on it is going a bit far, so just take a marker pen into the showers and write your name, job title and the year on the wall for all to see.
DAVE SMITH, IT SUPPORT, 2016
Keep a collection of rocks on your desk
Victors also get a real Paris-Roubaix cobble on a plinth, but we don’t recommend you go out and dig up a section of tarmac from the road outside.
Instead, collect a few rocks and keep them next to your workstation at all times. If nothing else, it’ll create an interesting discussion point for your colleagues. Unless you’re a geologist, in which case you’ve probably got enough rocks on your desk…