Easter Race: Paris-Roubaix
26La Pascale The Easter Race
27“Paris-Roubaix being a major asset in the development of our regional heritage…this race, which remains the greatest of the cycling classics, is also the core of what we are.” René Vandierendonck, Mayor of Roubaix
Hard work is at the core of this region, host of Paris-Roubaix. La Reine or the Queen of the Classics finds her royal throne by heading northeast in France and finishing near the Belgian border in the modest city of Roubaix. An unusual route for royalty through industrial areas, still the plain of Flanders is one of the most important manufacturing centers in France. Mining took place until recently below the cobbled section of the Arenberg Forest, but the region continues to thrive through its textile and chemical factories.
Similarly, a competitor must be steely-minded like a dominant sovereign atop one’s iron horse, ijzeren paard, and manufacture great industry to weave a win here. The right chemistry of good luck sans punctures or caught behind characteristic chutes, mass pile-ups, helps also. The race’s legendary conditions leave riders caked with mud and sometimes blood.
Its third fitting nickname, L’Enfer du Nord – Hell of the North, was earned because of passing through the ruins of battlefields after the Great War. The organizers maintain this tradition of ruinous sections of road and work with the community to guard these crumbling infrastructures from modern resurfacing to protect the race’s character. Likewise, the foremost consideration of racers is guarding position going into these sections. While the course lacks the little pavé hills of the Ronde, it makes up for it with over two dozen worn sectors of cobblestones from 300-3000m long all rated and named.
Trench of Arenberg is where the critical separation occurs to determine final finishers. Like a miner whose face is set like flint, victorious hardmen enter these shafts expecting to emerge with a roughly hewn trophy. They ride like one possessed as expected when descending shortly into hell, then rise again as royal sons, as is fitting for Easter.
Prayer for Paris-Roubaix
“… I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone…” 28Isaiah 50:7
We are glad for protected landmarks. We ask for fiendish determination to conquer our agonies and torments, and ask blessing upon Paris-Roubaix.
Ponder What hardships must be guarded in order to surpass old standards? Affirm I set my face like flint. Watch the face for an indication of your heart’s focus for overcoming.
26Pascale means the Passover Lamb or Lamb of God – symbolic of Christ going to the cross as a sacrifice for mankind, the Easter event.
27“A.S.O. and the town of Roubaix extend their collaboration,” Paris Roubaix 2005, Issy-les-Moulineaux, the 18th of March 2005 posted on www.letour.fr/stf/roubaix
28Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust