With the professional season now in full swing and the spring classics well underway, you could be forgiven for wanting to plan a trip to Belgium or the French Ardennes to ride the same roads as the pros and get a taste of the classics.
Whilst most places locally won't have a Koppenburg or a Mur de Huy, there are still certain things you can do to get a taste of the classics in your own back yard - although you aren't likely to win a keg of beer for doing so!
Plan a Route
Whilst the fabled cobbled climbs may not be too prominent around the UK, there are plenty of short, steep slimbs that you can build into a route to make your very own DIY classic.
Combine these short, sharp climbs with making the route longer than you would normally ride and you have most of the ingredients for a classic on your hands.
Let it Rain!
Get out in the wind and rain. Northern France and Belgium experience similar climates to the UK, with low temperatures, rain, wind and even snow making regular appearances in the classics.
Choose a day when you normally wouldn't go out to ride your classics route and experience the face-numbing, foot-soaking expereince you envy of all the professionals for yoursef. Just be sure to wear appropriate cycling clothing - there's nothing clever about going out in low temperature in the raind and wind with just shorts on. If it's cold take a cycling jacket with you and consider arm and leg warmers.
If your'e part of a club get your clubmates involved and make it a fox and hounds race to the finish. This will let you experience the thrill of being chased along the route or the excitement of a pursuit so you can pretend you're part of an epic breakaway in Milan -San Remo or the Tour of Flanders.
Simply get one group to set off early - just how early depends on your abilities - and then the other group sets off in pursuit. You could even change it up and do it again a couple of weeks later with the groups swapped around to experience both sides.
If you're into cyclocross riding then you're much more likely to find terrain that is similar to the spring classics or even some dirt roads like Strade Bianchi, adding another element to your DIY classic by ensuring you'll end up filthy.
If you're a roadie through and through you can try and build in some lesser-ridden tracks which are bound to be muddier than regular roads to give yourself a taste of the muddy lanes of Flanders.