The 6th Annual ' Hell of the Northcote' is the quintessential event for fyxomatosis aptly named the "Melburn Rubaix", which has been held annually since 2006. This is a cycling event based on the grueling Queen of the Classics, the Paris-Roubaix. Unlike the Paris Roubaix, the fyxomatosis twist is a ride, not a race. There are no prizes for finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or last. The course tackles Melbourne's nastiest cobbled alleys and laneways, across railways, along dirt tracks and incorporates much of the cycling networks before ending at the Brunswick Velodrome. The route was about 40kms with a healthy 5 hours to get to Brunswick allowing ample time for coffee, repair mechanical failures, get lost and find yourself again.
I entered this event with the intention of riding with Ewan, Adrian and a couple of others. Unfortunately Ewan came down with a fairly bad dose of the flu and couldn't ride. Ernest, who is a regular on the Great Vics and recently did the GWABR with us, took Ewan's spot . He's the guy in red with the Hasa MTB. Adrian's in white (Melb. Share Bike) and Martin who has been on at least one Lair's ride was riding a Masi.
I parked my car in Royal Pde just near Tin Pan Alley (Melbourne Uni.) and rode my SS to Fed. Square to meet the other guys, some of who were using the Melbourne Share Bikes which were free for the day. My SS was suitably enhanced with Spokey Dokeys (took 90 minutes to put the buggers on) and I managed to find my son's stack hat under the house and dusted it off to use on the event. We rode the 8 kms along the Main Yarra Trail to the start at the Hawthorn velodrome. Nearly 1,000 riders had signed up for the event at $36 a pop.
We registered and received our rider pack with a map (12 sectors of cobblestones), card with 12 questions and various other goodies all in a colourful musette. After we did a couple of laps of the velodrome we headed off at 10.20am to the first bone shattering laneway with hundreds of other riders on all sorts of bikes and dressed in all manner of fine clothing. Each of the sectors had a name the most memorable of which was the Koppenberg which a very steep laneway in Ascot Vale. Just made it on the SS. Some of the other sector names were Rue de la Faucon, Madmanenmuur and Chemin des Geants just to name a few.
We stopped for coffee and a bite to eat after Sector 7 in Lygon St , Brunswick before tackling some of the steeper laneways. We got a bit lost looking for the start of Sector 11, as did a lot of other riders as we passed people going in all directions. Finally got going in the right direction only to get a flat. Was a bit worried as the SS doesn't have quick release. Fortunately it was the front tyre and with my trusty spanner managed to get the job done with my riding buddies looking on. Not like the Lairs where everyone pitches in. Arrived at the finish at 3.10pm after the mandatory lap of the velodrome and proceeded to grab a coffee before washing that down with a stubbie.
Some great prizes on offer which were drawn from the card you answered the questions on at the end of each sector and placed in a box. Prizes included 2 Masi SSs and a trip to the the real Paris-Roubaix. The weather was great, sunny for most of the day with a bit of a northerly. Peter A was dressed as a 6'5" Catwoman with 6 inch heels (and he rode in these). He didn't win the best dressed prize which went to the 2 girls dressed as the Power Rangers and rode a tandem.
An absolutely fantastic event and loads of fun. Can't recommend it more highly. Maybe the Lairs can enter a team next year. Now to try and get those bloody spokey dokeys off. Anyone know any simple way to do this?
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