Back in 1999, a rider named Jon Anderson got the idea to start a group ride in his old stomping grounds around St. Francisville, Louisiana, West Feliciana Parish and Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Jon had been riding these roads since the early 80’s, as a form of escapism and reflection. Like most cyclists I know and ride with, Jon enjoyed a bit of pain at the hands of the dirt gods.
It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that the Rouge Roubaix shifted from being a group ride to a sanctioned event. Racers from all over the Southeast came out for promises of punchy, steep climbs, lots of gravel, scenic roads and yes, pain. It boasts 100 ish miles, with 30-40 miles of undulating gravel and dirt roads. This year, the Rouge is being run by Will Jones, the current organizer and I gotta say, he really delivered a hell of an event!
As part of an ongoing story detailing the design of a new disc road bike, Ben from Argonaut Cycles flew out two members from the Rapha / River City Bicycles Team to race with as well as Brian Vernor and myself to document the event, the culture surrounding it, the performance of the bicycles and let’s be honest, to experience one of the oldest and most intriguing gravel races in the United States.
See more narrated photos in the Gallery and don’t miss those last two photos!