Body Odour, Two Wheels, Wind and No Possible Detour

by Chikashi

let me have a sniff

image source:

Having gone back to riding a bit of cobbles last weekend in the Flemish Ardennes, I was reminded of a few episodes from this year’s Paris-Roubaix Challenge that I did not mention in my ride report. One episode is about body odour. Some people have body odour. Some have body odour that can be classified as a chemical weapon. A biodegradable WMD?

There was a group of riders wearing matching black kit. They were not registered participants of the sportive, so I assume that they were either natives or a group of friends visiting from elsewhere in France to watch the pro race the following day and were out for a jolly on just a few of the cobbled sectors. One of them had a weapons grade BO. What can one do or say, particularly when one does not have an option to take another route?

The group obviously had fresh legs, as I suspect they joined the route mid-way, and I think they did only about 5 cobbled sectors before they called it a day. They would come from behind and overtake everyone in the sector,  take a break after the sector and then repeat. Consequently, these boys went by me about 5 times. Invariably, there was head wind, so that I would have the BO coming in my direction long after the group overtook me.

It’s impossible to describe, but the BO was so strong that I actually felt nauseous and came dangerously close to retching. Yes, weapons grade. Going over those wicked cobbles requires so much concentration that one tends not to notice much else, but even those cobbles were not able to distract me from the smell. I only noticed the head wind because of the odour, not because I could sense the head wind:  it was the only explanation for riding into the odour for an extended period.

But, what can one do?