CS Grupetto

We are a little bit different to most clubs in that we\'re primarily a group of friends who socialise off the bike, but we happen to share a common interest in cycling and cyclesport. We are based in Putney and have regular weekend rides out to Windsor and the Surrey Hills, as well as occasional trips elsewhere.

We have a wide variety of cycling interests amongst club members, from track riding to road racing, and sportives to bike polo. Several of our members have their race licences, and we\'re represented in every category including Elite

We regularly travel further afield to enjoy some of the classic races – this year quite a few of us have ridden the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix sportives, and then watched the pros follow our tyre tracks. We also try and get to see the Ghent and Berlin six day track events.

At the core of the club ethos is a desire to enjoy good rides with good friends.



Let’s do de cobblesh…

Paris Roubaix is my favourite classic, a race for the hardmen and a chance for the beefier boys of the peleton to put one over the skinny climbers. The ride for us mere mortals is run every two years so a bunch of the grupetto decided to pound the pave this year.

We secure the ‘naughty boys’ back seat of the bus and arrive in an industrial estate just outside Paris after a journey that had a high BantsPerMile count. A few sneaky sherberts before bed and we retired in preperation for a little warm up ride that Graham had arranged for us on Saturday,

Saturday morning and it’s flippin warm, I’d packed all my wet weather kit but neglected to bring any sunscreen. Bikes assembled and we set off for an 80k tour of the Western Front. The roads were empty, the sun was shining and the company was tip-top. It’s always sombering to stop off and pay your respects at the commonwealth war cemetries and a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by so many young men and women


Dommy managed to lose the cleat from the bottom of his shoe when all the screws fell out but we were rescued by Grahams spot of a pretty swish bike shop in a village in the middle of nowhere. The owner of the shop fixed dommy’s cleat and we chatted with him for a bit, the usual international cyclists language of bikes, bits and rides. The ride finished with a raid on a bakery where Dommy treated us to his ‘blue steel’


The day of the ride

It’s fair to say that there was a frisson [oooh get me french] of excitement and fear as we jumped on the coach at 5.30 to be driven to the ‘trench’. Bikes were tweaked, comfort breaks taken and Dommy ensured that he had the correct amount of cap ‘luft’ for such an auspicous ride



There was no more avoiding it, time to ride. Arenberg is not the gentlest way to start a ride and some of the language was a bit Anglo Saxon, the cobbles at Flanders which we’d all ridden before can rattle you about a bit but these are something else. I’d ridden PR before and thought that now wasn’t the best time to let the lads know that things were going to get bumpier. Dommy lost a bidon and decided to go back for it and rode the trench twice

Graham Dommy

The rain from earlier in the day had cleared up and we were riding in baking sunshine. The group quickly discovered that the best way to tackle de cobblesh was to just put the hammer down, pick a line and go for it. The sense of ‘floating on air’ when you hit tarmac after a pave section always makes me chuckle. At the first feed stop we discovered that a slice of saucisson makes an excellent bidon shim to stop it bouncing out of the cage on the pave – marginal gains innit.

As always Ved managed to spot a tiny pony so we stopped for an obligatory pic


The ride continued and whenever spirits began to flag the bants would start, the sound of the grupetto singing ‘Delilah’ after the Mons-en-Pevele bought a few strange looks from some of the other riders


Before long we were approaching the last major section, Le Carrefour de l’Arbre, 2.1 k’s of proper battering, no gutters to ride in, it was just a case of gritting the teeth and getting on with it knowing it was all going to be over soon. It always impresses me the speed of the pros and how they manage to battle it out in such close quarters when the cobbles are bouncing your eyeballs around in their sockets so much that you struggle to focus.


A few cheeky short pave sections later and it’s the gentle roll home to the velodrome. Entering the velodorome is always an emotional experience, you know the job’s been done and you’ve seen it so many times watching the pro race. A few isotonic Julipers and it was off to visit the iconic Roubaix showers, plaques on the shower stalls commemorate past winners and cycling heroes and this year a few chancers from South London


Graham gave it his best leMond pose while Sam opted for the chirpy “pave, what pave” pose

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Then it was back to the hotel for a well earned bit of scran and some well deserved beers. A cracking grupetto trip as always with plenty of bruises, blisters and bants. We’ll be back there in 2016 for sure