Take 15 minutes out of your Friday afternoon and watch this Rapha film (yes it's about roadies but it's worth a watch if you're that way inclined). Click the image to launch.
Historically, 'The Hell of the North' was not referring to the sheer pain and torment the cyclists of the Paris-Roubaix must endure to complete the 275km race. It was a newspaper caption describing the landscape when the race was resumed after WW1—charred forests, open sewers—a completely decimated and blackened horizon.
Run your fingers through the topsoil in that region of Northern France and you are likely to find shrapnel and splintered bones. The race has been shaped by history, and as I discovered so too was Johan Museeuw's brush with fate in the Forest of Arenberg.
The only way to define Museeuw's true 'North' was to meet him in the ancient forest. From there the trajectory of the back story was formed, and thus began the filming process. - Nick Livesey