What is Paris-Roubaix like?

It’s Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, but what’s it like? Why is this race different from any other? Here’s Dutchman Theo De Rooy interviewed on the finish line in 1985:

“It’s bollocks this race. You’re working like an animal. You don’t have time to piss. You wet your pants. You’re riding in mud like this, you’re slipping—it’s a piece of shit.”

Then, in the next sentence, he described it as ‘the most beautiful race in the world’, which pretty much sums things up.

As you might expect judging by its nickname, The Hell of the North is not a pleasant experience for the riders. But rather than being about steep gradients or massive height gain, it’s about battling the road surface and the weather conditions. You can even find yourself caught at a level crossing.

There are usually 27 sections of cobbles and like climbs in an ordinary race, they are rated. Like a hill, one rating criterion is length. Unlike a hill, the other criterion is shittiness of road surface.

The trophy is a cobblestone on a stand.