Planning ahead: best set up for cobbles

bike
wheels
bike-setup
tires

#1

As well as working on my fitness thanks to TR, I’m planning ahead with equipment. Anyone ridden Paris-Roubaix (April 2019) and have a strong view on fastest bike / bike set up for the combo of ~28x ~2.5km rough cobbles plus long “smooth” tarmac sections? I ask in case I can justify a new bike :rofl: as my aluminium road bike can only go up to 25s, which a few people have told me is less than ideal, and I’m not sure i want to ride my (feels-every-bump-) Tarmac over cobbles. I found Flanders fine on 25s but those cobbles are child’s play, I’m told, compared to the Hell of the North. All views gratefully received.
(Also - although a way off yet - any tips on which speciality plan eventually to choose would also be great)


#2

I too have only ridden Flanders, which was fine on 25s, although being Belgium the rain arrived for the backend of the ride and I couldn’t help think the wider your tyres were the nicer this would be.

I have since acquired a gravel bike and with some Schwalbe s-ones (30mm) i would have thought that would be plenty comfortable and good for all conditions.

A dry day and your present bike would most. likely be fine (perhaps with double wrapped bar tape).

But if you need another bike go for it!


#3

Rode both on the S-One 30mm, I’m not sure I could go back on 25mm even having done flanders on 25mm and thinking it was fine. I’m sure when you first rode flanders cobbles it was a bit of a shock to the system?? Well PR is everything they say it is!!!

Find a plan that offers lots of those 3-8min power efforts, it’s true when they say the faster you can ride them the better. Make sure your bottles, bags, pumps etc are really really secure. Get comfortable gloves.

Think I started SSB1 on Jan 1st, followed by SSB2 and that took me through to classics week. Go out and practice riding ‘dodgy’ roads because the cobbles will be lethal in the wet


#4

I rode Paris Roubaix in 2016 on an aluminium frame and tubular tires. There’s a local cobbled race here I’ve done on the same frame as well. My advice would be go tubeless and get some low cadence work in. Cobbles are “better” when you ride lower cadence, high force. Balance just out of the saddle and let the bike dance under you. Loose hands (let the bars shake) and just barely rise out of the saddle. Strong legs are a must. Aim to work at about 80rpm and you’ll get better feedback from the bike.


#5

I am going to keep an eye on this thread, I’ll be riding Flanders in 2019 and will be experiencing the cobbles for the first time.

I heard it can get really crowded on the climbs during the event, any advice there on how to make the best out of a situation like that during Flanders?


#6

I’m going to keep an eye on this thread as well. I’m doing PR in 2019 and planning to do it on my Focus Paralane with either Schwalbe G-Speed 30mm tubeless or perhaps give these new Conti GP5000 32mm a try. I’ve also got a Gravel bike with 47mm 650B’s on it but riding that wouldn’t really be in the spirit of the event and I’d think I was somehow cheating.


#7

I’ve done it twice and the cobbles are’t that rough ( I did it both times on 28mm tubed GP 4 seasons). Some people I was with did the long version but wished they hadn’t as they were very tired when they eventually hit the cobbles and felt it spoilt the experience. I hadn’t realised there were downhill cobbled sections on it. Hitting those at speed was terrifying, Like being a passenger on a runaway train. Be prepared to walk up some of the climbs as people stop/fall off in front of you. Attached is a video of the Paterberg at the end of the event. If you are interested I’m in the Chorley CC top looking particularly shattered.If you’ve got any other questions - more than happy to help.


#8

Awesome info thanks! I can only run 25 or 23 as the current 25s are already a snug fit with my brakes, there isn’t much clearance there.

One or two leafs and it can already feel like it’s jamming haha.

I think I am going to wear my brown pants for the downhill section, that does sound scary.

Looking at the video it would great if the organisation put down like a temporary spray line, urging the people that walk to hold to a specific side and that way create space for the people who would like to try and cycle up rather than walk.

I am going to do the 175km version with a buddy of mine and two weeks later the 150km version of the Amstel Gold Race.
I don’t really have a goal for them other than finishing them and being able to do the climbs without having to get off the bike because it’s too hard.

Paris - Roubaix might be something for 2020 so I can scratch another classic of the list :wink:


#9

My son rode Paris Roubaix, Tour of Flanders and Liege Bastion Liege 3 years ago when he was 18 and on his gap year travelling around Europe. He did it on my aluminium road bike with 25mm tyres. He said Paris Roubaix was extremely uncomfortable on 25mm tyres and has vowed never to ride it again unless on 28’s


#10

I’ll be there too! I’m doing the 174km route and watching the pros on Sunday. Fancy a TR meet-up?


#11

I live in the area and train weekly on the cobbles and climbs in flanders. So i can say that i know them pretty good.

My tips:

  • on the cobbles go as fast as you can, it feels easier…and…don’t brake :slight_smile:
  • make sure you don’t loose your bottles or garmin shaking off
  • let the bike do the work, ride in the middle of the cobblestone sections…
  • on the climbs make sure you go easy, the “paterberg” and “kopenberg” are really steep and can be really crowded.
  • I use 25mm tyres, 4-4,5 bar in the front and 5 bar in the back (I weigh 70kg and 1,86cm heigh)
  • aim at least for 5-10mins intervals for training (some cobble sections and climbs take more than 5 mins) and some are also connected, so you first have a cobblestone section of 1,5km and directly after that a climb of a 1km.
  • not sure about gloves, i don’t use them and i never have any blisters, it is all about how you handle your steering, not to tight…

Feel free to contact me if you wanne meet up, i am always willing to show you around in the days before the event or after. We maybe could organise a small TR meetup with some nice belgian beers.


#12

I wish I was doing Flanders again rather than Paris Roubaix now!


#13

"My tips:

  • on the cobbles go as fast as you can, it feels easier…and…don’t brake :slight_smile:
    _aha I’ve noticed that a steady speed works best on smaller ‘cobbles’ already, my brake is super sensitive, I might have to adjust prior this event."
  • make sure you don’t loose your bottles or garmin shaking off
  • let the bike do the work, ride in the middle of the cobblestone sections…
    So find one line and ride it? Shouldn’t try to find the best route all the time?
  • on the climbs make sure you go easy, the “paterberg” and “kopenberg” are really steep and can be really crowded.
  • I use 25mm tyres, 4-4,5 bar in the front and 5 bar in the back (I weigh 70kg and 1,86cm heigh)
    I ride with 7.5 bar front and back currently, but I usually ride on really smooth roads (I am 1,79 CM heigh and 81 kg)
  • aim at least for 5-10mins intervals for training (some cobble sections and climbs take more than 5 mins) and some are also connected, so you first have a cobblestone section of 1,5km and directly after that a climb of a 1km.

Currently on SSBLV2 plan, after starting cycling last year I noticed I lacked sustained power for extended climbs, really struggled on a few in Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year). Will most likely continue with Sustained power build and I might be able to do a climbing speciality before Flanders.

  • not sure about gloves, i don’t use them and i never have any blisters, it is all about how you handle your steering, not to tight…

Actually never rode with gloves, well at least not padded ones, in the winter I would have normal gloves on. I heard double tape on the bar can also help with the vibrations.

Feel free to contact me if you wanne meet up, i am always willing to show you around in the days before the event or after. We maybe could organise a small TR meetup with some nice belgian beers."

Awesome! I might take you up on that, I am already jealous that you have such hills around you, it’s basically all flat around where I live, two meager hills that were challenging when I started last year but now are just routine.

@zwillis1

I will be doing the same!


#14

I’ve done PR for the last three years. It is savage but so good you can’t help but go back for more.

I do it on a carbon Giant with 28mm Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tyres. Touch wood, not a single puncture to date. Pumped to about 80psi, I weigh about 79kg.

Your hands and shoulders will get beaten up the most. My hands were so blistered in year 2 i could barely hold the bars, which actually worked in my favour i think as the light touch meant i wasted less energy being tense.

I can only recommend smashing the sectors as fast as you can. once they start they come thick and fast, but you’ll be amazed the amount of abuse a modern bike can take. And hold out from riding the gutters as long as you can. Otherwise you might as well just ride the pavement/sidewalk back home. You’ll also find the middle is generally clearer. You occasionally have to force your position a bit with others but it is always friendly - whatever you do, don’t sacrifice any speed unless oyu have to. The longer you’re on a sector the more it drains you.

And i don’t buy in to the whole lower than normal cadence thing. Most important is to keep the chain under tension the whole time. If that means you want to spin at normal rpm then do it.


Training plan advice - Tour of Flanders
#15

_ aha I’ve noticed that a steady speed works best on smaller ‘cobbles’ already, my brake is super sensitive, I might have to adjust prior this event."

-> yeah…good idea…

So find one line and ride it? Shouldn’t try to find the best route all the time?
-> as noted before…cobbles in the middle of te road are most of the time the cleanest and smoothest to ride on…cars dont use that part of the road so the cobbles aren’t that bad on that part of the road…

I ride with 7.5 bar front and back currently, but I usually ride on really smooth roads (I am 1,79 CM heigh and 81 kg)
-> you probably should lower that, 5.5bar , but you have to test :slight_smile:

really struggled on a few in Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year
-> the climbs aren’t that long in flanders, really short comparing to Liege-Bastogne-Liege but most of the time steeper and really bad roads and a lot of turning…

I heard double tape on the bar can also help with the vibrations.
-> a lot of people do that, although i think good tyres with the correct pressure will go a long way…

@ Portobello_T agree…the low cadence thing is some old thingy…keeping the pressure on the chain is more important, although riding on your big cogwheel (flat sections) gives you an easier job on keeping the tension.


#16

I see PSI has been mentioned, I was running 30mm G-Ones at 70-75psi and weighing in at 84kg.

For Flanders get to the start early and you’ll have a more clear run, the first couple of times I did it we started a bit later, it was slower and I never felt truly challenged by the course simply because there were so many people, parts were tough but it was only really felt it on whichever climb continues for a 1km after the top (letting myself down by forgetting the name). Most recently we hit it early and had a much clearer run and felt like we’d really pushed ourselves by the end.

For PR check you bike thoroughly, saw so many broken mechs from cross chaining and worn running gear, dropping chains etc… including my friend who had to single speed it back with about 100km to go!!


#17

At the supply station just before the Koppenberg there is a big screen that broadcasts a livefeed of the Koppenberg so you can see how crowded it is at that time. You have the option to take a “chicken road” that redirects you around the Koppenberg. I suggest you take that road because no matter how good of a rider you are, the moment someone steps of the bike (and I can assure you that wil happen) it is very difficult to continue because of three reasons: 1. The narrowness of the road 2. The steepness of the road 3. The cobbles. I rode Flanders three times now and never followed this advice. Each time i regretted it.

I live in Flanders so if you have other practical questions regarding the tour of Flanders, ask away!


#18

Which model of Tarmac do you have?


#19

good tip never, I have ridden it 5 times and only managed to ride to the top once.


#20

2018 S-Works.