On the eve of what’s arguably the most iconic classic of the year we set out to chronicle most epic Paris-Roubaix-style races around the country. These are where the hardest of the hard men come out to romp on parcours that crush dreams, smash fancy carbon rims and place dental work at risk. In other words, on a scale of 1 to 10, the 11s.
In no particular order, here’s what we found.
This weekend will be the 17th running of one of Colorado’s greatest races. The 69-mile course is a test of endurance with paved & gravel roads, more than half of it unpaved. For an extra challenge, Mother Nature can also throw inclement weather into the mix. Who loves mud???
This Michigan spring classic “separates the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the hand-built race wheels from the factory training wheels.” A 75% attrition rate is common and the race has never ended in a bunch sprint, with solo moves typically yielding the winner. The 10.5-mile circuit features 4 miles of unpaved roads with loose gravel and stones… got 27s?
Copperopolis Road Race
Held the day before Paris-Roubaix, the 32nd annual Copperopolis Road Race takes place in the Northern California foothills, seemingly at the edge of civilization. The course is a mix of Flanders and P-R with a pair of 2-3km grippy climbs per lap, crosswind-buffeted false flats, sharp rollers, and no shortage of roads that look and feel like they were bombed out in WW2.
Tour of the Battenkill
Self-proclaimed as “America’s toughest one-day race” it’s also one of the largest, drawing 2,500+ riders to take on the best (or worst, depending on your POV) that the Battenkill Valley and village of Cambridge have to offer. While pavement is often in short supply thanks to multiple dirt road sections, scenery is not. This year the BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development team will be heading north to take on the toughest in the US.
Hilly Billy Roubaix
Since Hell of the South happened last weekend the Hilly Billy Roubaix seems like a fitting addition, especially with the promoter’s suggestion to bring CX bikes and it taking up to 6 hours for some to complete. We also can’t help but love the route description: “Road conditions may include missing bridges, car-sized potholes, gravel, mud, black top, cow paths, and maybe a piece of road kill or two.”