Some tips from the Club Captain for the upcoming Uriarra Roubaix to be held on the 8th of April
- Pump your tyres UP, not down.Yes, you read correctly. Confused? Every year, on the same day at a similar race with a similar name in northern France, the pro riders will use tire pressures as low as 60PSI to help get them through the cobbles. But don’t make the fatal mistake of copying their tyre-pressure strategy at Uriarra Roubaix. Because unless you’re racing on tubular tyres – like the riders in the “other” Roubaix race – low tire pressure will almost certainly result in a flat tire. Even though the dirt road sectors of Uriarra Roubaix are not nearly as brutal as the Paris Roubaix cobbles, the surface of most dirt roads is still rough enough to cause a pinch flat to a road bike clincher tube within kilometers. As always, the best tire pressure depends on a lot of things, like your weight, tire width and model of tire, but if you’re using clincher tires, like most people, your normal race pressure is probably about right. For most people this will mean about 120PSI, or the tire’s max. pressure rating. Inflate your tires adequately, and you’re really no more likely to get a flat tire than in any other race.
The 2017 Uriarra Roubaix will be supported by Pushy’s Fyshwick Neutral Support Vehicle(s), providing spare wheels and mechanical assistance where possible. Usage of spare wheels & tubes is provided for a post-race donation of $10 per wheel/tube to Ronald McDonald House. To make neutral service as useful as possible, we’d greatly appreciate your consideration in contributing to the spares pool for the day.
As soon as you hit the first dirt road sector, bottles will fly! But with the right preparation, you won’t go thirsty at Uriarra Roubaix. Again, you could use the same equipment as the pros do in that “other” Roubaix race – such as steel bottle cages with sand paper glued to them – but there’s no need to go that far out of your way. One strategy is to take a good drink from each bottle before the first dirt sector. This will ensure you’re hydrated at that point in the race, and reduce the chance of losing a bottle – a half-full bottle is much less likely to fly out of your bottle cage than a full one. If you can safely do so, push your bottles back into their bottle cages if you see them partly out. Alternatively, you can also use your jersey pocket to carry a bottle, if you’re able to reach. You’ll probably only drink on the asphalt sectors anyway. Race volunteers will usually pick up lost bottles where they can and might even try to hand them to you each lap, but the safest strategy is planning not to lose them in the first place.
- Stay Away From The Edges
At Paris Roubaix, riders will often ride on the edge of the road, beside the cobbles, if there’s a smoother, faster line there. But on the dirt roads of Uriarra Roubaix, accumulated sand and dirt, which occupies the far edges of the road, will quickly slow you down and make it hard to steer if you ride through it, so it pays to stay away from the edge. If you do drift into the sand, keep going straight and use mostly your rear brake. After the bike slows itself down, you should be able to re-join the group.
- Braking & Cornering
Road bikes can’t turn as suddenly and aggressively on a dirt road, so first-time Roubaix riders will appreciate that the dirt sector is really quite straight. Nevertheless, it always helps to stay aware of any minor turns in the road ahead so you can plan a good line. If you do find yourself needing to brake on the dirt road, use your rear brake more than the front brake. The less grip you have, the more exaggerated this bias towards the rear brake needs to be to avoid locking up the front wheel. If you lock up the rear wheel, you’ll probably just make a skidding sound whilst being able to adjust your braking input, but if you lock up the front brake you could find yourself on the ground pretty quickly as the front tire loses grip.
- Roubaix? Don’t I need a different bike?
Really, your regular road bike is good for Uriarra Roubaix. After the race, wash your bike and wipe down your chain, just like after any other bike ride, right? … right? You could use a cyclocross bike (if it doesn’t have disc brakes), but there really is no need, and because two-thirds of the course is asphalt road, the lower gear ratios will probably render a cyclocross bike a net loss for your race result.
- Soft Elbows
Elbows are your inbuilt suspension for Uriarra Roubaix dirt sectors and using them will take the road vibration impact off your wrists. You’ll quickly get a feel for how much elbow bend you prefer. Why not go for a practice ride on the Mountain Creek Road/Farlight Road detour next time you’re riding Cotter Uriarra? Or the Majura Lane shortcut next time you’re riding to Sutton? Just make sure you’ve got enough tire pressure first so you don’t get a pinch flat.
- No Weight Penalty
Throw power-to-weight out the window! This is the flattest race on the Canberra road calendar – no hills for superlight mountain goats to attack. Heavier riders will be much on an even playing field and will relish the opportunity to blow the field apart on the dirt, whilst distanced riders can work together to bring back breakaways on the asphalt. Similarly, an 8kg bike won’t hold you back a bit.
- Never Give Up
Uriarra Roubaix 2017 will feature prizes including Most Combative Rider, place-getters, and the Chumbawumba Award. Stay tuned for details.
Video from last years event
By Matt Robertson
Club Captain, Canberra Cycling Club