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Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell Hardcover – September 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"One can't help but get inspired to ride some rough stuff after reading Paris-Roubaix. The book captures the intensity and emotion of one of the more brutal sporting events in the world, dating back to 1896. This coffee table book shows the elation and sadness of nearly 100 years of racing over the manliest of courses, and is worthy of any hardened cyclist's bookshelf."

From the Publisher

Introduction by Bob Roll.

"The authors have approached the race in a clever and unusual fashion. Rather than following a chronology, the majority of the eleven chapters of Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell are divided into different aspects of the race. These include: the cobblestones themselves; the impact of the weather; messed-up finishes; unexpected winners; the Roubaix velodrome; and a brilliant chapter devoted to the effects of getting a flat tire. There is a gallery of the most celebrated winners and the whole book is stuffed with marvellous photos taken from the archives of L'Équipe. There appear to have been photographers present at every dramatic crash, or else there are always so many crashes that you just have to stand around and wait."

"Something about this book has grabbed me in a way no other cycling book ever has...This book punched me so hard it knocked a tooth loose. A Journey Through Hell brings the race back to life, capturing the faces of the people who make the race what it is. From the pros themselves to the police to the spectators, this book packs your lunch and drags you and your family out for a day at the races." --Belgium Knee Warmers

"This is a book to die for... The writing is of a stunningly high standard, not just informative but descriptive, emotional, involving and delightful. The same can be said of the incredible number of monochrome and colour photographs of a quality that would not disgrace a copy of Rouleur magazine... I read [the book] completely oblivious to the distractions around me...and kept reading passages out loud to anyone within listening distance."

"This pictorial history of Paris-Roubaix is the first time I have seen the brutality of the event, and the fragility of the riders that are forced to race it, fully exposed in print. The quality of the photography is phenomenal, right from the sepia memories turn of the last century to the multicoloured, multinational new-millennium action, and the captions and story are written in a quirky, amusing style that encourages you to look at each image again." --Bicycling Magazine South Africa

"The book contains hundreds of images, both in colour and black-and-white, and this is one of the reasons for its superiority over video recordings of the race. With the photograph on the page there is time to study the image and time and time again the background is as interesting as the actual subject... The eleven chapters of the book are cleverly themed to take you through the different facets of the race. When you arrive at chapter eleven you will have taken a much appreciated journey through more than a century of life and racing." --Lightweight News

"VeloPress has released a stunning ode to the history of cycling's greatest one day race in this elegant coffee table book...While the stories of the riders, of the race and of the people who fight for it are compelling, it is the photographs that make this book so stunning. A pictorial history not only of the race but of the sport through the ages graces the pages of this remarkable book. Both monochrome and color image quality are nothing short of perfection and shot selections are absolutely riveting. We see riders in triumph, riders in agony. We see riders coursing through history on safety bikes and on modern carbon fiber machines. We are witness to men trying to conquer the formidable beast that is the Hell of the North, frozen in time through the ages. Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell is a must for any cycling fan. Its stunning coffee table layout and spectacular photography will earn its place as one of the greatest cycling books of all time." --East Coast Mountain Biking

"One can't help but get inspired to ride some rough stuff after reading Paris-Roubaix."

"If you could make a crosscut through the race, you'd see layers which, mundane on their own, have converged into something fascinating. Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell is easily the most comprehensive effort to perform that crosscut and allow English-speaking fans a chance to examine those layers...Almost the second you crack the cover, the drama of the race explodes off the page."

"Nothing will get you pumped and primed for the upcoming race, as well as for a new season of bike riding, like Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell...[The book] keeps alive the elements of folklore and poetry that are Paris-Roubaix. Paris-Roubaix is a celebration of the most famous of races, as well as of a beautiful sport that's been around long enough to have talented authors gloriously sing its praises and deify its participants....If you need motivation to tackle a sloppy spring, look no further than this book." --Mountain Flyer


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: VeloPress (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934030090
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934030097
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 1 x 12.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Reissner on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greg Lemond famously said about cycling:" It doesn't get any easier. You just get faster." And for a sport that values the ability to suffer, the least easy of all races is Paris-Roubaix, variously feted as "the Queen of the Classics" and cursed as "the Hell of the North." In 2006, L'Équipe published a gorgeous history of the race and it is this book, in an excellent idiomatic English translation by cycling historian David Herlihy, that has now been published by VeloPress. Compared to the vast tide of books about the Tour de France, this one appears to be the only substantial work in English about Paris-Roubaix, in spite of the race's legendary status. This in itself merits its inclusion on a cyclist's bookshelf, but the book has intrinsic qualities that make it a must-have.

Paris-Roubaix is a throwback to another age. When it began in 1896, the velodrome ruled the land and road races were the exception: difficult to organize and with only a few racers, unable to compete for the rich prizes of the tracks, available to participate. To enliven proceedings, some velodrome owners promoted road races to end at their tracks. This was the case of Paris-Roubaix, and at the first race was so novel and popular that part of the grandstand collapsed under the weight of spectators. The winner, the German strongman Josef Fischer, completed the race at an average of over 30 km/h. So this race had everything: an international field, a challenging route and an enthusiastic audience. It has gone from strength to strength as the other classics from that year (Paris-Mons? Paris-Royan? Bordeaux-Paris?) are long gone, along with most of the velodromes.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Hughes on November 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the ultimate telling of the Paris-Roubaix story. L'enfer du Nord as it is know in France, is one of the most grueling and notorious one-day races held every spring for last 100+ years. Most famous is the stretch of cobblestone pave that makes for the toughest section of the race. If it is too dry, dust occludes everything, and if it is wet the cobbles are dangerously slippery and muddy. In either case it is a bone jarring ride and no sane place to have a bike race.

The book is excellently laid out with a history of the race, profiles on the key winners and special sections on some of the features that make this race unique. For example there is a chapter dedicated to describing the feel and the mood of the showers in the velodrome at the end of the race. Unlike any locker room in any other sport, these showers are a unique character of the race in their own right. It is where the warriors relive, consul, try to forget, and most importantly remove the caked on mud from the day.

The best feature is the 100 years of photographs that capture the pain, glory, and muddy mess that makes up this unique event.

This is a must own for any cycling fan.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Borland on December 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a book that covers the emotional, technical and psychological aspect of the Paris-Roubaix, then this is the one. The photographs are phenomenal, the written text entertaining and the book overall is highly recommended. A must-have for all cyling enthusiasts!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on October 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With phenomenal photographs and a text that delves into interesting facets of the event, the coffee table book is a great tribute to the iron men who have fought through pain and the elements in a race of survival, with the select few etching their names with the elite company of champions.

Since 1896, "l'enfer du Nord," has conquered more riders than been vanquished by the swift and strong. Sections covering the famed cobblestones, weather and those who have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat - and vice versa - are fascinating.

The book is a must for fans of pro cycling or those who enjoy exploring impressive athletic achievements. It is an incredible journey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paulo Romero Cabral on March 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the best books on cycling history. Great photos, excellent reviews. A real jewel!
I have allways benn a fan of the european classic races, and this one is certainly tue queen of the classics.
I have seen many subjects that I still did not know, and now my knowledge on this race is greatly improved.
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It took a band of writers, photographers and designers to capture the Paris-Roubaix bike race otherwise known as the Hell of the North. Achingly beautiful photographs and first person narrative in the words of a battle weary rider fill the pages. Skinny bicycle tires on fat cobblestones, sleet, hail, sun and wind all contribute to the scourge that is the path to victory. "The Hell of the North includes some sections of cobblestones that are even more infernal than others. Yesterday it was the hill at Doullens. Today it's the pave at Troisvilles, Wallers-Arenberg, Mons-en-Pevele, and the Carrefour de l'Arbre. Among the numerous pitfalls of Hell, these five sections stand out. Here whistles the wind of legend." Our rider is at times a lover too, "...Of course I loved Milan-San Remo to death, and a hundred times I had my way with it. I loved Liege, and I loved the Tour of Flanders and its demons...I loved the Tour de France, which replaced long distances with mountain climbs. But you, Paris-Roubaix, I loved you like no other, if you allow me to speak of you as a woman."
Scandalous and conflicted, victories at Paris-Roublaix don't come easily, "Misfortune, rotten luck, punctures and crashes all afflict the accursed of Paris-Roubaix. If that's not enough, then you can add the finish-line judges. Here,(photograph), in 1927, they decided that Belgium's Ronsse, sprinting in the center of the road was the winner, whereas the Frenchman Curtel appeared clearly to cross the line first. The band started to play "La Marseilles," the French national anthem, but quickly changed to Belgium's "Brabanconne" when the judges announced their decision. Curtel never got over it.
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