The 2014 Rouge Roubaix

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!

  • Chris Loudermilk

    Outstanding…

  • Wes McWhorter

    John, Ben, Brian….thank you guys for coming down for this race. Looking forward to more photos and footage down the line!

  • Ace Metric Cycles

    Well done!

  • caliente

    Did you get any before/after pics of bikes? It would be rad to see that argonaut before/after with the grit and grime.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I did with that Argonaut. Posting tomorrow.

  • Hollis Duncan

    Are the last photo and your 70-200 interchangeable? That’s how I picture your lens +/- John : (

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Ha… Yeah

  • http://centerlinerule.blogspot.com/ Michael

    I don’t even have to be British to say it and mean it – “Bloody” fantastic.

  • Tyler Shannon

    Photo #50 seems to sum up the race. Dude on the far left is deep in the pain cave, I love it. Were most racers on road bikes? I thought i spotted a few cross bikes in there as well, was it evenly split or predominately road?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I didn’t see many cross bikes. It was a road race with four gnarly gravel stretches…

  • LeFabe

    Thanks for the great pics, #33/34!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      was that you?

      • LeFabe

        Sure was.

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          Hope your boss was ok with you calling in sick! ;-) Heal up brother and thanks for letting me put a camera in your face!

  • http://www.cycleexif.com/ Adam Leddin

    Awesome gallery John!

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Thanks brother!

  • timojhen

    Excellent work John. Loving it.

  • Ahab

    Petitioning to rename this race the Carcosa Classic.

    Great pics really captured the feel of this beastly looking race.

    • David

      Haha. Great idea. Winner gets to “make flowers” not just receive them.

  • jordan

    images are excellent!

  • Evan Wilson

    Your photography is kickin’ ass!

  • http://hopecyclery.blogspot.com/ Hope Cyclery

    unreal, thanks for providing the stoke…

  • http://www.samobiker.com Wade

    Awesome photos. Some of them look like film. What were you shooting?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      All digital.

  • h salinas

    Hahaha, okay so I strongly dislike the velominati “rules”, but that picture of the lady w/ the sign is great.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I totally agree! Fuck the rules.

      • http://www.neilbridge.co.uk/ Mr_Bridge

        Every reference I ever see to them nowadays is in jest. I’m glad they exist, if only as a warning to Freds who take it all a bit too seriously.
        This photoset kicks fuckin’ ass, btw.

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          I don’t know man. There are a lot of serious cyclists who swear by that shit. I hear it mostly from Cat3-2 road.

          • http://www.neilbridge.co.uk/ Mr_Bridge

            Hmm. If they’re the same people who use the phrase ‘non-drive-side fail’ when looking at pictures of bicycles, then I definitely don’t want to go for a pint with them.

        • Allez Rouleur

          Get fucking real. The dude posting the photos of a gravel race and Rule 5 reference used to be Douche Excelsior living as a fucking transplant in Brooklyn, spending all day bunny hopping his fixie. Oh, how quickly you forget. Now you’re all hot and bothered for road bikes.

          You know who I don’t want to have a pint with? People who latch onto whatever they deem is cool in cycling and forget that they used to lose sleep over how narrow their bars could be.

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            I have no doubt evolved. It was 10 years ago. Thanks for the comment.

          • zippy

            Allez Rouleur – If that’s how you feel, then why the hell would you be trolling his site then posting comments about how you hate him???? Who’s the douche now??? Why don’t you go out on your bike like the “real rider” you think you are and stop worrying about everyone else that is here appreciating the pics!

          • Michael Lemberger

            Ah, right, because none of us has any right to become something other than what we once were, right?

            This is why I have no use for the Rules or its acolytes.

          • Jamie McKeon

            lol

  • Ian Stone

    Any idea what the mechanical issue was on the Argo?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Front wheel wasn’t seating right in the fork ends. John wanted to make sure everything was ok before he rode it again.

  • D0rk

    Awesome to see FL CX State Champ Josh Thorton (Giant) at the front of the pack in #23.

  • Stefan

    Thanks for capturing this race! Great day for racing and taking pics

  • apignatora

    Quite possibly some of your best work yet. Keep it up.

  • Lee Wassilie

    great photo set, makes me want to get out and ride a bike

  • Joseph Lovenduski

    those last two photos capture the essence of what events like this are all about, amazing photo set John!!

  • Joshua Robot

    Photo 28. Epic.

    • Joshua Robot

      Oh. Photos 65.

  • bruce golla

    All rich white guys, in Louisiana. huh

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I’ve never met a pro rich bike racer.