Category Archives: Rides

Paris-Roubaix:The Guts, The Glory, The Grime


Think you’ve survived something as nasty as Paris-Roubaix? Read our blog about the classic race, and tell us your story. There will be Contender goodies involved for the best tales! Keep reading for details….

In 1896

When two textile manufacturers wanted to organize a cycling race from Paris to the new velodrome they had just built in the small, rural town of Roubaix, they had a journalist ride the route to see what the course and conditions for the race would actually be. The hope was that the journalist would enjoy his ride and recommend his paper help promote the fledgling race. As the story goes, when he finished his ride, the freezing temperatures, the howling wind and the apocalyptic rain had done him in -he was convinced that not only was the route a nightmare of mud, bad roads, and barbarous conditions, but that sending a group of racers on these same roads would be ridiculously dangerous. 

Now, I’m not a huge steward of history but I’ll say this: if some guy (who, by the way went on to be a deputy organizer for The Tour) decided in 18-friggin’-96, the same era that had Jack the Ripper, Polio, coal-covered child laborers, and doctors that still used leeches for bloodletting (!), that a bike ride was too dangerous then you know it was pretty gnarly. 

Half the riders that signed up for that first Paris-Roubaix decided not to show up.

But they ran the race anyway. It was a huge success.

And That’s Kinda How It’s Stayed

The only time the race was shut down was during the two World Wars. In 1919, organizers decided to survey the route to see if any of it had survived the shelling of the First World War. What they found, they said, were road conditions that could only be described as “hell”.

But, again, they ran the race anyway. And It garnered it’s famous name: The Hell of The North.


Fast-Forward About Another 100 Years

Paris-Roubaix is a spring classic; a test of the stupidity  endurance and fearlessness of riders stupid brave enough to face it’s mud, grit, weather and cobblestones.

And we love it! We revel in the ridiculous idea of having to race on some of the worst roads in Europe. It makes you giggle. It seems so hard -so dumb- to subject you and your butt to conditions so purposely bad- but there’s a strange attraction to it. There’s a bizarre affinity attached to events where everyone involved agrees that what they’re doing is probably a bad idea, but they’re going to do it anyway. Why? Because, dammit, other people will think you’re crazy and it’ll probably make a good story. Call it evidence of the unyielding human spirit. Call it our need to push and test the boundaries of what we can suffer. Call it something dumb you and your friends decided to get together and do.

paris-roubaix preproads

Call it something nasty under your breath.

The Point is, We’ve All Done Something Similar

We’ve all decided, for whatever reason, that we are going to undertake some misadventure with full understanding that it could possibly be the worst thing we ever decided to do. But hell, you’re friends are doing it, and you don’t want to be the only one left out. So you’re in. All the bloody way in.

In recognition of Paris-Roubaix this week, we thought we’d ask all of you to give us your most courageous, near-death (or near near-death) stories.

We want stories that revel in the wreckless abandonment that has engulfed us all at one point or another in our sporting careers. We want the stories that your significant other hopes you don’t tell at get-togethers because it just proves that they married down. We want the stories that are marinated so unabashedly in poor decision making that letting your cat prep your taxes is a comparatively good idea. Yeah. That’s what we want.

Here’s One To Get You Started

Mine has to do with a (seemingly) sunny Saturday in February about ten years ago and my friend’s idiotic attempt to get some winter ya-ya’s out and a whole bunch of early season miles in. Truth be told, I was just as eager to ride after 3 months of winter as he was. We decided to ride out to Provo Canyon (where we would end up hiking our bikes through more than 6 miles of snow drifts), into Heber where the sun quickly disappeared, then Park City; where it actually began to snow. By this point, we were out of daylight because of the time we had lost hiking up most of Provo Canyon with our bikes on our shoulders. We had no choice (because hypothermia was setting in and we just wanted to get the #%$! home) but to hop on I-80 and be done as fast as possible. I remember calling my mom from a 7-Eleven in Jeremy Ranch, letting her know where I was, what I was about to do, and that if I didn’t come home this might be the reason why.

I guess we could’ve stopped, stayed at the 7-Eleven and had someone pick us up. But we didn’t.

We saw the snow, we saw the semis shooting up huge rooster tails, we knew we’d be dodging black ice and we decided to do it anyway. We hopped onto I-80 and cruised down the canyon. It was one of the scariest, dumbest things I’ve ever done.


So what’s your story? Leave it in the comments and if we love it, we’ll post it! When you post it, look for an email about some Contender goodies heading your way!

Hope you watched the 111th edition of Paris-Roubaix this morning!



Wasatch Fall Colors as seen from the Bike

Fall is a great time of year. The heat of Summer has subsided, the cruel and bitter bite of winter is still a ways away, and people are generally in good spirits during this transition period. Rewind a few months ago when we all were burnt from the sun and were forced to evening and morning rides. Now fast forward to a month and a half when that first sharp snowfall hits and we’re cold, wind blasted, and have on-set depression from impending holidays. I for one have a family who’s adapted the trend of giving massive amounts of Lowe’s gift cards as presents. But hey I’m not complaining I’ve fixed my toilet four times over with that store credit. Enjoy the fall because it won’t be here forever.

Gaurdsman’s Excellent Adventure

We made it to the promised land. Was it easy? No. Did we lose some people along the way? Possibly. Did a lot of people lose a lot of respect for me? Pretty much everyone, but we did it baby! Here’s what went down.

Ready for lift off

Check out Mike from Lazer helmets feeling the love at 8600 feet above sea level.

In case you're wondering... Grif has been here before

No Guardsman ride is complete without bicycle fixing. While Tim ponders much deeper issues

Gaurdsman Group this Sunday 8am UPDATE!

We’ve got a 7:30 leader. Grif is heading out then from the store so if you want to get a head start on the 8am group he’s your man.

As most everyone knows it’s summer time in the Salt Lake and that means ride time. All week the talk has been building about the ride so here’s the skinny. Gaurdsman loop. Starting at 8am (as of now, will update if time changes) from the store. The ride is about 80 miles and will take every bit of 5 and a half hours ride time, and of course uphill will be the main dish. There’s a convenient store stop in the middle. Nervous about the pace? I suggest to those wanting to ride the big Cottonwood section at more of their own pace to leave from the store at 7:30. No word yet on who’s leading this group but the option is there. Any questions? Post them I’ll answer every one of them.

Be there or be square

Gaurdsman Pass Ghost Protocol

As everyone knows Salt has great rides out there but to me the Gaurdsman loop is the tops and I’m pretty sure I invented it. Well that may be up for debate but the idea remains. We set out as a group to give it a go. We had a newbie to the ride as well. I’m glad to say five and half hours, a soda and snickers bar later we completed the run. We were like the Conan of riding. We came, we saw, we ate junk food.

And the dirt begins...


Omar didn't know what was in store for him

We considered cow tipping, I blame this on the heat

There will be more attempts this summer so if you want to call yourself a Gaurds-Man (or woman) keep an eye out on the blog and be ready for the next one.

Contender at Sunset

Here’s a cool photo from the other day. It’s The Shoreline Trail right at dusk. If you’re ever wanting to hit the trails around 7pm come on down to Contender. We’ve always got a few folks who saddle up after work.

Doesn't it look like Eddie's wearing a red baseball cap?

May is bike month!

The month of May is officially “Bike Month”. What that means is it’s a time to celebrate the activity of cycling. Weather you ride of fitness, as a form of transportation, to avoid driving, or just because you like riding a bike. We are all cyclists in our own right. There is a ton of information out there about what’s going on during the month and what days are specific to a particular bike event. For instance “Bike to work week” is May 14-18. Here’s a great site with the information. Get out there and educate yourself on your month.

Gaurdsman launch delayed

As we all know we had a somewhat mild winter with much less snow than the previous year. That being said I thought it was time for me to explore just how far Gaurdsman’s pass was ride-able to. I remember trying it last June and it was still a snowy brown mess. So me trying it in April now that may be pushing it. Here’s the evidence I found.

Man was there some snow there waiting for me. But I was hatching a plan.

...and that plan was to go really fast into the snow cutting a trail for all to follow

no turning back now, I'm feeling good about things...

99 problems and snow is all of them

You may have won this round snow but I aint no easy win