You might wonder what “Barry-Roubaix,” as in “Barry-Roubaix Killer Gravel Road Race” means. The organizers adapted the name from one of Europe’s oldest single-day professional bicycle races – the Paris-Roubaix Classic. It begins near Paris, traveling north over pavement, cobblestones and dirt to finish about 160 miles later inside the velodrome in Roubaix, France. Aside from breaks to manage a couple of World Wars, this race has gone on every year since 1896.
Of course, a French person doesn’t say “PAIR-isss,” like we do – a French person says “Pair-REEE.” So, to adopt the appropriate linguistic snobbery, pronounce it “Bair-REEE.” That part of the name comes from our race’s location – Barry County, Michigan. Thus, “Bair-REEE Roo-BAY.”
Does anyone actually say it that way? I doubt it.
Paris-Roubaix occurs early in the racing season, making weather potentially difficult. The course has several long sections of old paths paved with cobblestones (technically, “setts”), making it one of the rougher races on the pro circuit. Among other prizes, the winner gets a mounted sett as his trophy.
Barry-Roubaix also comes early in Michigan’s season (unless you race cyclo-cross), and it also features difficult surfaces, at least when compared to regular road racing. In another break from European tradition, they don’t give the winner a bucket of road gravel as a trophy.
Although I’ve raced in several mountain bike events, I’d never done Barry-Roubaix or anything like it. I had a great time trying something new, and will definitely keep this event on my to-do list.