The mythical Paris-Roubaix one-day cycling race should be taking place this weekend, with the world’s best Pros racing Sunday and amateurs tackling the cyclosportive version on Saturday.

Alas, coronavirus has changed those plans with both events cancelled.

But Dutch riders were not about to let a little virus up-end their spring plans to grovel in dirt, bounce over cobblestones and suffer in the saddle for hours.

So, the organiser of Gran Fondo Drenthe re-tooled the event and created Paris-Roubaix in a Box.

On Saturday and Sunday amateur cobblestone loving cyclists are riding a modified Gran Fondo Drenthe route in corona-proof mode, including 20 kilometres of cobblestones.

For a small 27 Euro entry fee riders pick up a registration box (and cup of fresh hot coffee!) at a covid-safe DRIVE-THRU in the town of Assen with everything needed to tackle 80, 110 and 160 kilometre routes solo. Riders then park in town or along the classic monumental course, unpack their bike, kit-up and head out, following GPX instructions on their smart cyclocomputer through 15 cobblestone sectors.

The Box is no ordinary box – it is big, really big and contains some pretty nice schwag:
Two Lucky 13 Beers for post-cobble consumption
Gran Fondo Drenthe Finishers medal
GPX of the routes and 15 cobblestone sectors
Maxim Sports nutrition bars and gels
Copy of the latest RIDE Magazine
Pasta package from Grand’Italia.
Package from Komoot
Cyclon sag support – in case the cobbles win

And, of course, a nice coffee-table book about the life of Dutch Pro cyclist Servais Knaven who won Paris-Roubaix in 2001 in some of the worst wet and muddy conditions ever encountered on the cobblestones.

Worldwide Gran Fondo and Gravel Event Calendar