The Paris–Roubaix, the “Hell of the North”


Our Paris–Roubaix profile is one of the favorites in our roster of race rides. It’s certainly one of the more unique profiles you can teach—it’s not like you get to describe riding over cobblestones every day! This year’s Paris-Roubaix takes place on April 8th.

We looked to someone who is a fanatic about the Spring Classics bicycle races and is also an exceptional indoor cycling instructor, Matt Scheffer, to create this amazing ride. Put the two together and you have an emotional, challenging, yet very fun ride to offer your students, even those who might never have heard of the Paris–Roubaix. This will be a profile that piques their interest, as you explain the unique history of this race. 

Last year, I took Matt’s profile and changed up the music and added a few additional cues. I also added some great quotes about this race that you can sprinkle throughout your profile and add to your promotional class flyer if you create one. This profile is perfect for the 2018 route as well.

This race is so full of history and drama, you can’t help but have a great time as you visualize the pavé (the rugged cobbled sections of the brutal 160-mile race). Since the weather can sometimes be challenging and the course very muddy, you can have some fun with your visuals.

paris roubaix

Here is the official route and profile for 2018. This CyclingNews article describes the two new sectors of pavé in this year’s course. 

Below are a few of the most memorable quotes I added to the profile.

“Don’t hunt around for other expressions; for the eighty years this race has existed, its chroniclers have used these words and these alone. By necessity. What words, you ask? Beauty, sadness, pain, courage, injustice.”
Yves Berger, 1982

“It’s a circus, and I don’t want to be one of the clowns”
Chris Boardman, on why he never took part

“Paris–Roubaix starts like a party and ends as a bad dream.”
Guy Lagorce, a journalist for l’Equipe

“Paris–Roubaix is bullshit.”
The often unprintable, always entertaining Bernard Hinault

Now you have two options for music—Matt’s rock-and-roll classics, and my very different options (along with some French tunes). I didn’t change up the profile itself; it still contains six pavé sections and a vicious final drive to the finish in the Vélodrome. 

This is a fantastic video you can use for your Paris–Roubaix introduction if you have video capabilities. You can also search in YouTube for full race coverage from past years. Sometimes it’s fun to show footage from 20 or 30 years ago. 

This ICA post gives you additional resources and videos to spice up your presentation of your ride.

We also added the Spotify playlist for both profiles. Matt’s is all rock and roll; mine is a combination of rock, alternative, and French tracks. Please leave your comments below about how you enjoyed this profile or if you have any suggestions for songs you use when you lead this ride.


  1. I have used this the past 3 years. I’m a Cat 1 racing cyclist and I absolutely love when I can bring the real drama of racing into the studio. Of course I watched nearly all of the real race, so when I taught the class last week I would update the class on what actually happened when we were riding the cobbles. I love that the music chosen for cobbles is so jumbled and uncomfortable for some people. (I am a die hard Led Zepplin fan so the more the better for me!). And then AFTER the race, several of the pro men uploaded their real race files to strava and the media captured it – so I posted it all over our facebook pages. Now that my classes know what wattages they are capable of riding, seeing how HIGH the pros hold watts and for HOW LONG they do, it was eye opening for them! Makes me so happy 🙂

  2. I used this profile today and it was great! They loved the history of the race and picturing the cobbles. I really enjoyed talking of the Pave and how when wet,it is slippery and when dry,it is dusty! Thank you for sharing this profile. Everyone seemed to enjoy our “trip to Europe.”

  3. Matt, I did your Profile a week ago using I-Movie with photos of segments and completed it with videos from You Tube, this friday they ask me to present it again tomorrow. Thank you for the inspiration.

  4. I used this profile today and printed out poster-sized pics of this race to hang in the room. The class loved it. It was really out of their comfort zone and mine as a teacher. So glad we did it though. Many of them said they burned less calories than normal but “felt” like the got a better workout. Thanks so much for all the research and work you put into this.

  5. Author

    That’s awesome Stacey. It’s so nice when we can provide some background to our profiles, it brings the riders into our rides and connects with them on a deeper level. I think they are much more likely to give it their all!

  6. I used this for my race day profile this week and it was excellent. I teach at a university and the background/history just made the class come to life.

  7. I just love it! Impressive background info – and the playlist is just fantastic, THANKS Matt
    I will use lots of pictures with my Classbuilder profile 🙂

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