The definition of a cyclist is quite simple: «A person that rides a bicycle». Being one, is not.
There are so many of us, with all of our little quirks and beliefs. Our great grandfathers were cyclists, our dads, aunts, grandmama's and mothers. We all enjoy the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle, whether we use it for transport or joy. We are all by definition cyclists. But then there are those who call themselves a cyclist, we cyclists, we like to think we are different. We are the ones who after a full day of work, get on the saddle and train. We are the ones that get up on a Sunday at 7AM to ride in the god forbidden cold. It doesn't matter if it is to race, to beat your mates on a local sprint or to discover places our eyes have not captured before.
We are cyclists. Our bikes might look different, out goals differentiate even more, but when crossing each other on the tarmac we love so much, we look each other in the eyes and nod. That nod of approval we all hold so dearly. Because in the end, there is no love, like our love for the bicycle. And that right there is one of the most fundamental beliefs De Marchi was founded on.
When back in 1946, at the foothills of the Dolomites Emilio De Marchi created one of the most innovative brands to this day, and the oldest cycling clothing company in 2017. The mind behind the use of qualitative Merino wool cycling jerseys, worn by the legends we worship like Coppi, Bartali, Bobet, Merckx, Gimondi, Moser and Basso to name a few.
De Marchi continues to be innovative to this day, with their release of their 2017 Winter kit. To celebrate this, we went back in time. We dedicate this ride to De Marchi, The Hell of The North and the Faema team. We revisited this all time classic in celebration of innovation and heritage going hand in hand. Because we need innovation to move forward, but history to net get disconnected from the past. On the 21st of October, we went back, revisiting 1970 Paris Roubaix, one of the most epic editions to this day. The weather, the slippery cobbles and the fight to the velodrome. With the strongest rider of that day arriving 5 minutes and 21 seconds before anyone else.
When riding between train barriers in Wallers, we encountered the first section. 2.4 km's of cobbles crossing the largest forest of Saint-Amand-Wallers, laid in the time of Napoleon 1. The section is impressive, and we find it hard to translate in words. Each side of the road is covered by trees, stopping in the middle gives you the illusion as if you're standing in a cathedral. Riding over it, makes you feel strong.
In this part of France, it sometimes feels like time stops. With the local industry slowly disappearing, a lot of things are staying the same. Local bars, typically recognized by an older unhurried man or woman behind the tap, the typical peanut stands, the chairs not always as stable as they used to be. But the charme of the café's never said goodbye.
Mons-En-Pévèle is a section that we found speaks for itself. The hardness of this section can be seen in the shots. You enter this section, and immediately you are being shaken around like the omelet you had that morning. The corner is as sketchy as it looks, and it is hard to keep your line with the wind blowing against your body. But when you come to the end of this section and look around, and look around it is simply breathtaking.
Officially called Pavé de Luchin. This section, that might just be the most pivotal in the entire race, is a stomach twister. With it being one of the three 5 star sections. This section is in the last 20 kilometers of the race, so you might remember it quite clearly, as you, like most of us, had your nose stuck to the TV screen by this point of the race.
When Paris Roubaix isn't around the corner, the worlds most famous velodrome most certainly doesn't shine as bright. Arriving at the velodrome after visiting all the legendary cobble sections that day, you can not help but feel a little disappointed. Taken over by French youth the velodrome is not what you would except from cycling's holy grail. But that feeling is quickly taken away when your wheels start to turn on the legendary track. Head down, eyes on the legendary wood, following the black, red and bleu line. This place where legends of cycling rode their last meters before being handed the iconic cobble trophy. Laughs, cries and pain of many.
To give an idea of the atmosphere behind the 1970 Roubaix, we translated a few lines from a newspaper article, published the next day, written by Jacques Goddet, from the press center at the Roubaix Velodrome.
«Is this a man, or a page from a history book? This question emerges when we see how Merckx enters the Velodrome of Roubaix. Under a pitch black sky, ahead of others, minutes ahead of others. With the seconds and then minutes between his next opponent, the astonishment of the crowd grew.
And then 5 minutes and 21 second later, the defeated started to arrive, one by one. This was not just a backlog between riders, but a gaping gap. The Merckxedes did it again.»
These words written on April 12th, 1970 contributed to create the Merckx legend. One of the many champions that wore De Marchi.
It was an honor Paris Roubaix.
Until next time.