The Melburn Roobaix has been running since 2006, and easily one of Melbourne’ most iconic cycling events. It is hosted by FYXO who have embraced the spirit of one of Europe’s most popular one day bike races. The Paris-Roubaix which is renown for its challenging cobblestone sections. The Melburn Roobaix explores the bumpiest sectors of cobbled lanes and alleys. As well as the lesser ridden bike routes. Hoping to introduce riders to hidden parts of the city and offering a sense of adventure.
There were thousands who showed up to the Hawthorn Veledrome to take on this years event. One thing that always stands out are the large number of riders who come along and dress up in costumes and ride the craziest of bikes.
You kinda feel out of place if you’re not dressed up.
You are given a rider pack with an assortment of goods to complete the ride. Along with many a keepsakes and a map. My orientation skills are on par with how well I know my way around the city. Pretty much non-existent. I had a look at the map and already felt lost. Maybe I could follow someone who knew where they were going…..
The first road out of the veledrome was short and steep, and the course offered a surprising amount of challenges along the way. The Melburn Roobaix isn’t a race. It’s an adventure and you want to take your time soaking up the sights and sounds that Melbourne is famous for. I was taking it easy, constantly pulling over taking photos but as the ride wore on, the crowd was thinning out and found it harder and harder following riders. After each sector there was a familiar site of riders pulling over.
Searching through their maps.
My mountain bike ate up the cobbles. Between the bikes suspension, and wide tires I was really gliding seamlessly across them. I kinda rued not bringing the road bike which would have offered a much different experience. There were twelve sectors of cobble all up. Each with their own reputation and own name:
- Bon Vent
- Sur Shackell
- Biere a l’Avance
- Coup Droit
- Pas de Marche
- Tres Rade
- Muur d’Elm
- C’es Facile
I loved hitting the cobbles!
It wasn’t all that easy trying to find the right racing line. Just when you were seamlesslyg gliding across what seemed a perfect line. You would find a pothole or small bit of road traffic to dodge. With so many riders around, you always had to be mindful of the terrain and what was around you. As the lane ways were pretty narrow.
I was pretty much lost after the first street. Occasionally I would come out on a road that I recognised. But largely I was a tourist rediscovering my own city, and was lucky to join a couple of riders who seemed to know their way around. It helped to break up the ride chatting away. Particularly as the second half of the ride really wore me down. They had certainly come up with a challenging route for the 2017 edition.
After a brief visit to the Beer temple, we eventually we made it out to the Brunswick Veledrome. Its a joy to do the iconic lap of this historic venue, and I ended up doing several laps. Soaking up the sites and sounds. There were a number of riders already ahead of us. Everyone with a smile on their face.
Many thanks to Andy White and FYXO for putting on such a great event.
If you find yourself riding past a cobbled alleyway. Consider to make a short detour and explore the hidden parts of Melbourne. You never quite know what you will find……