Can you believe it? We're only four days in to the Tour de France, and there's been enough drama and action for a month's worth of cycling!
It seems like the people that design the course every year, scheme of ways to challenge the cyclists and their teams, while providing incredible sights for tourists and the global audience. Today's section, with over 18 miles of roads built from cobblestones, will literally jar the handlebars out of a regular cyclist, and when the weather is poor, these roads are almost impassible.
Riding a bike out on the road is always a challenge. There's wind, weather, temperatures, traffic, and of course, construction zones. While we all wish for smooth asphalt, courteous drivers, and no debris, the fact is that this is rarely the case.
When you ride on rough roads, there are a few things you can do to make the ride a little easier.
First, take a little air out of your tires. Modern tires are so good that they can be ridden well below their maximum pressure, and a tire with some cushion can absorb a lot of impact and road buzz.
Second, ALWAYS wear gloves. Gloves help you ride with less strain, and most modern gloves absorb impact as well.
Third - keep your chin up, and look down the road. Usually, there are areas where motor vehicles have already rolled, and their weight has compressed the earth a little, under the areas of their tires. When you ride in the right or left wheel well, things definitely get smoother.
Fourth - this is one area where you MIGHT consider a lower cadence, if only to help you maintain some torque and balance.
Finally, if you encounter rough roads more often than not, consider riding a wider tire, or buying some wheels with wider rims. Modern racing wheels are actually getting wider, and modern tire recommendations are now down to below 100 psi for most cyclists, unless they're really big.
Thankfully, most modern roads don't use cobblestones or brick. Cities and States employ asphalt and concrete. But asphalt can be rough on the joints of a cyclist, and concrete can break up from weather. Ride aware, ride within your limits, and be prepared with good equipment and fitness.
Cycling on rough roads doesn't have to be a drag, or prevent you from exercising. They're just another skill you can award yourself when you've overcome their challenges, giving you more opportunity to ride when and where you want, for whatever reason!