krisParticipant28 January 2013 at 08:25Post count: 635
Thought I’d give you a quick write up on my first reliability trial.
The route planned was 74 miles, but I had arranged to meet up with a couple of friends in Bolton and ride to the start line in Preston – we were planning a 105 mile day.
So the alarm went off at 5.30, giving me enough time to get a hearty porridge breakfast down me. It doesn’t help though if you drop the entire bowl onto the floor. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had to mop up porridge but its like mopping up glue. So my allotted time spent getting ready and eating was spent on my hands and knees.
giving it full beans, and grabbing the only food I could find (2 bananas), off I went. I got there just in time at 7.30.
By 7.55 we set off. The roads (and the weather) around Blackrod was terrible. Into a vicious sidewind, we had to contend with snow, ice, rain and hail, but the three of us braved it, each taking their turn in the firing line echelon style. We got to Preston at 8.55 for a 9am start. there were around 100 riders or varying levels, mostly E,1,2’s, all donning their team colours. I got a sense of foreboding.
It actually set off relatively steady as we exited Preston and headed for Bowland Knot. A roaring tailwind saw the peleton quickly pick up speed, and we were soon averaging 25+. Now I must tell you that this area is notorious for road damage and it did not let up. The rolling country roads looked like a warzone, and the speeds made it very challenging to stay upright. Several punctures around me told me to back off a touch and just get through. Which is where the attack happened.
For those who don’t know reliability rides, the rules are simple. No maps, no navigation, no marshalls. You all set off, armed with only what you carry (including food), and you try to complete the course within an allotted time. If you have a mechanical, you are on your own.
So the most brave saw the opportunity to attack through the rough roads and soon a 20 man break formed. I was at the head of the chase group and the gap was growing – about a minute. So I decided to try to bridge. I could see that the odd rider or two were struggling to stay with the break, and I used them as stepping stones. I had barely caught them at the foot of Bowland, when my efforts paid me back by getting dropped on the steep, flooded climb. The break got away to 30 seconds again, but I persevered.
At the top, the views were breathtaking – the highest point in Lancashire. It was also very exposed, and the 45mph gusts made the snaking gravelly corners very tricky! Up to this point, the roads had been clear of snow and ice, but as we made a turn into Gisburn Forest, it got very bad, very quickly. The forest road had not been treated, and so was an inch deep in slush. the group I had been chasing had stopped dead, and I have never been so happy. I was in pieces after chasing them for 20 miles.
Gradually, as we made our way back to the main road, the rest of the peleton joined, and one of the organisers made a course correction. We would go round instead. calls were made to maintain the gaps, which were poopoo’d 🙂
So we set off again, as we did out of Preston. Fast, but steady. By this point the temperature had risen and the sun was out. But the roads were very flooded. We had to tackle huge swells across the road. We were already soacking from the effort, and the morning rain, and now everyone had drenched feet.
As we went past Settle, 5 of us made the hard call to break of the ride and head to town for a brew and a change of socks. So off we went.
We were cold, wet, tired, and we knew we still had 50 miles directly into the headwind to get home. We watched the weather change from sun, to rain, to sun, to hail, and picked our moment to head off.
The only way to do it was to work together, keeping the group tight, sharing the load. I was up first and dragged us up the climb out of Settle. The miles came and went, and one by one we started to suffer. The first bonk was at Longridge. that was myself. I missed a couple of turns on the front and recovered a bit. Then Craig started cramping up, so the pace eased a bit. Eventually we got to Preston and we found the nearest shop to stock up on water, coke and chocolate.
By this point there were three left. As we exited Preston, Craig punctured, but luckily he had slime tubes. Having never seen these in action, I was mightily impressed – the tyre didn’t deflate! Infact, he rode another 15 miles before a second puncture ended the tyres life.
This was a very tough day in the saddle, but very rewarding. It was a trial, which started off as a race, and ended like something out of Band of Brothers, fighting the elements 🙂
We got home after just under 6 hours in the saddle, with 102 miles on the clock and ~6500ft of climbing.johnkParticipant28 January 2013 at 11:09Post count: 225
Sounds like a great day Kris. Sounds like you are flying too.
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