It all started in 2011 - we decided to ride Lands End to John O Groats, since then we've completed a number of 'challenges' raising over £15,000 for various charities.
You can read about our adventures here, and also our on-going efforts to keep on cycling!
So, we found ourselves enlisted into the Mercia Cycling Club Annual Reliability Trial - we signed on for the 50k ride, 100k being just a little bit too much for us early on a cold Sunday morning. But what is a 'reliability trial' - a quick google reveals all.
A reliability trial is an organised bicycle ride which challenges a cyclist to complete a course, passing through designated control points, within a preset time limit. Such events are often held in the wintry opening months of the year and are used by cyclists as training rides. A common test would be a 100 in 8 - 100 miles would have to completed within eight hours, including any stops.
The term is historic and dates back to the early years of the 20th century. The name was also a way of emphasising to the police, at a time when the place of cycle sport on British roads was insecure, that the mass rides they might see were not races. equipment was less reliable, roads were rougher, routes were more poorly sign-posted, and Reliability trial riders needed to be self-sufficient, adept at navigation, able to deal with mechanical problems, and fit enough to complete the course. In some cases, successful completion of the ride entitles the rider to a certificate. Reliability trials have lost a lot of their popularity although they remain a regular feature for sections, or clubs, of the Cyclists' Touring Club.
Gary and 'The Butcher'
So there you have it, in a nutshell a long ride within a certain time. Gary and I cycled from Netherseal to the start point, Mercia Cycling Clubs most well appointed club-house in Burton on Trent - we signed the appropriate forms, next of kin etc and waited for our start time - 10.30. We watched the superfit racers depart from 10.00am on the 100 kilometer version and we met up with, the now legendary, Tim 'The Butcher' - he looks lean and mean having already lost a stone in weight for the upcoming season.
We hit the road at precisely 10.30 and swept along with the peloton - we soon became aware however that there were a lot of cyclists passing us - they all seemed to be travelling up the incline with no problems, chatting and laughing - we on the otherhand were struggling to keep up; any idea of conversation was out of the question.
At least the weather was kind, by now it must have been a glorious 6 or 7 degrees - whatever it was we were sweating, working hard, pushing ourselves. There were a number of sharp climbs and those prolonged uphill stretches that seem to drag on forever and punish the legs. By now the field was strung-out, we were firmly established at the tail-end of the bunch and finding it very tough.
We passed over Blithfield Reservoir and the first of a number of hard climbs in the latter part of the course, the second was just beyond Abbots Bromley and the worst was Jacksons Bank at Hoar Cross followed by a series of roller-coaster challenges known as the Scotch Hills - all very testing.
Finally we passed through the beautiful village of Dunstall and quickly back to the clubhouse, being passed on the way by the first of the returning 100k riders!!! - they were showing off! - A cup of coffee and a most excellent slice of almond cake was gratefully received - then we had the ride back to Netherseal!!!
All in all it was a good day - challenging, yes, tough in places, absolutely, but we know where we are now, we can see more clearly what has to be done - basically its more riding and lose weight!!