Duncan had been planning this for weeks. A collection of snatched walks with the dog, forays on motorbike and then some pioneering efforts by bike.....
Floubaix? Well, take the short sharp cobbled climbs of Flanders, add in some classic Cheshire lanes and gravel tracks (including strada bianchi) and sprinkle liberally with some ancient Roubaix-esque pave. There you have it - Floubaix.
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Update: here comes the link
I think we all needed a bit of soul riding this weekend - coffee, chat and chilling round this great area. Dunc led myself and Mark round the route that, despite my previous and considerable knowledge of the area, yielded some absolute gems for the connoisieur. He found us a petit Arenberg, so rough that it has claimed several of Dunc's bottle cages on recce and a full blown, arrow straight grand Arenberg that is the closest thing to Northern France's finest you will ever find in this country. Riding on Dunc's wheel down these 16th Century cobbles, seeking out the centre ridge, for a moment I glimpsed what must the nerve shredding intensity of Roubaix, dodging the holes from missing cobbles, fighting to keep the bike straight, trying to relax amongst it all.
Like my Ronde, though only around 40 miles in length, this route wears you down with cobble, gravel and lots of up and down. No big climbs, but a hard parcours nonetheless. It flows beautifully, assuming you know where you are going, making great use of the small features as well as the overall landscape. We finished with latte and carrot cake in a great cafe in Marple Bridge, watching the elegant young ladies of well-heeled Cheshire going about their ritual Saturday shopping.
Oh, and if you like checking out how the other 2% live, then there are properties all over the shop that redefine the word 'mansion'.
PS Take some fat tires with you - your bike and bum will thank you.