Friday’s gig was to do a course recce for Paris – Roubaix 2007.

There are 28 sectors and you can’t skek them all, so we decided to do the track at Roubaix, the final four sectors, a new sector which has just been added and the two legendary sectors – Carrefour de L’Arbre & Arenberg.

Paris - Roubaix 2007
We walked the entire 2.5km’s of the Arenberg sector, and back! Photo©Martin Williamson

It was sore on the feet just padding along, let alone riding a bike over it at 30mph.

Suffice to say that you cannot take in Arenberg until you see it. The path through the forest is like a living thing, the cobbles vary in texture, some sit flat, some squint, some shining, some jagged – all the time the sun was shining and the birds were singing. It sounds corny, but it was as if the cobbles were sitting there waiting for their big day.

Paris - Roubaix 2007
2.5km looks a long way in a straight line: pity the poor guys that fenced every metre of it, on both sides! This view is facing along the course – you can’t tell from the pic, but it’s downhill. Photo©Martin Williamson

The BlackBerry has made so much difference to writing; you can sit in the car and tap away, maybe not as rapid as on a laptop, but very practical, Ed had his copy written and sent before we had reached our hotel in Saint Quentin.

Paris - Roubaix 2007
These are deep ruts. Photo©Martin Williamson

The pictures are the bind, they have to be downloaded from the camera into the laptop, edited and labelled, then emailed in batches. If it’s a good wi-fi signal then it’s a doddle, if the signal is erratic or weak, it’s the most frustrating experience imaginable. The signal in the Ibis lounge wasn’t too bad but it took us around 45 minutes to get all our shots on their way.

We can’t recommend Saint Quintin as a cullinary centre or a place to get supreme attention from the waiting staff, but we got some pasta – eventually.

Paris - Roubaix 2007
The final sector, no.1, just outside the velodrome in Roubaix, pays tribute to every past winner of the race. Photo©Martin Williamson