Thursday, April 7, 2011

Experience the pavé

When I recently mentioned that Paris-Roubaix is a race for wussies, at least when compared to the bicycling conditions in Helsinki, I thought I was (kind of) joking. As it turns out, I wasn't. It seems that the city of Helsinki is trying to advocate commuting by bicycle by making the bicycling infrastructure more interesting and challenging (as opposed to more accessible) and to promote various forms of bicycle sports in the city. Yesterday I wrote about an environment that is clearly meant for BMX and/or Freeride enthusiasts. This morning I found out that, apparently, the city has launched a new campaign to promote bicycling classics-style, on cobbled sectors. (If they haven't got a catchy title for the campaign yet, my suggestion is "Experience the pavé!")

Just check out this cycle path in my neighbourhood in Northern Helsinki:

There's always been a cobbled sector on the side of the path, which I always thought was there just to make the path prettier. The rest of the path is paved with asphalt, although it is hard to see that from the picture because the asphalt is currently covered by some 2 cm of gravel, sprinkled there in the winter. But yesterday the P"N"WD had licked the cobbled sector clean from the gravel, while leaving the rest of the path untouched.

To me, this is a clear indicator that they want us to try bicycling on the pavé. I can find no other reason for this action. The road has been free from gravel all winter, so this can't have happened as a byproduct of cleaning the road. They cleaned up the cobblestones intentionally.

Hey, I'm all for it. I'm ready to experience the Hell of the Northern Helsinki. I'll gladly shake on the cobbles like the slow, puny Fabian Cancellara wannabe that I am. I'm just not so sure if the occasional bicyclists get the drift.

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