Finally, I decided to take the plunge and take part in my first event of the year.
My first ride in LBRCC (http://www.lbrcc.co.uk/) colours was hindered by the fact that at 7.30am when I left from home it was only 1 deg so way too cold to even consider wearing the short sleeve LBRCC jersey that I possess! Instead it was full winter attire, something that I would come to regret later on. Setting off I planned to take the 16 mile ride to the Luton CC Reliability ride starting location at Edlesborough steady, as I knew I’d be facing up to 6 hours in the saddle.
My route took me through Heath and Reach, up to Stanbridge and then through Eaton Bray on to Edlesborough. The few small climbs I had to negotiate and the morning sun soon warmed me up after a chilly start. Arriving at the village hall I was greeted by the site of a large huddle of riders waiting to set off. I’d arranged to meet a friend at the start and after exchanging pleasantries with a few other familiar faces it was off to sign on and refill a bottle. By the time I’d returned outside most of the riders had left and myself and riding partner set off towards Northall with a group of riders just ahead of us up the road. Once through Slapton and into Ivinghoe we’d caught the group, mainly due to the traffic lights rather than a blistering pace!
Once on to the Beacon the group soon split up. About half way up we were then passed at some pace by a pair of Virgin Active riders, although surprisingly their pace seemed to tail off by the time we reached the unofficial top of the climb and in the miles to come we would eventually catch them.
Before the ride I’d been wondering how a reliability ride differed to a sportive. From a personal point of view I felt no desire to push on, as I would have had this been a sportive. A couple of faster groups passed us during the opening 20 miles and I never once felt the need to jump on their tail. Likewise I was happy to stop for comfort breaks with no real urgency. Whilst trying to cover a set distance as fast as possible is rewarding, this fresh approach made the ride a more laid back affair – a good thing at this time of year.
Lanes and villages came and went, and for the most of the ride I didn’t have a clue where we were. There were a few sections that I’d like to revisit on future rides so I guess a sit down with a cuppa and Garmin Connect is on the cards. I particularly liked a long downhill section of single lane that would be great to do in the other direction. The signage was pretty much on the ball. There were a few that could have been positioned a bit more in advance of the turn as a couple of times they were only noticed at the last minute and meant overshooting the turn – not a major issue. There seemed to be a sign missing in Tring but a quick look at the map provided at the start soon had us heading in the right direction. By now I was beginning to regret the 3 layers I’d pulled on first thing in the morning as the temperature rose.
Once out of Tring we were once again on familiar roads and with a couple of riders that had been yo-yoing back and forth from us all ride. After ascending Toms Hill the last challenge came in the form of a horrible drag back to the Beacon. A road that appears flat but is actually a 3-4% gradient.
From there it was downhill for the last few miles to the village hall. Once back the lure of cake and coffee was dismissed, opting instead to refill a bottle and begin the ride back home. Once through Hockliffe it became apparent that I had not eaten enough (2 gels and 2 bottles of Allsports WTF). I then had to experience the horrible feeling that most cyclists have gone through at least once. The drag towardsWoburnis tough at the best of times but think I must have set a record for the slowest ever time on that particular stretch.
Once in Woburn I sought out the local village store and after a can of coke and Mars bar I was quickly on my way again, feeling much better and confident I’d have no trouble with the remaining 5 or so miles.
I ended up with just under 92 miles on the clock, a good training ride and I think that my view from my first experience of a reliability ride will be that that’s what they are – a good early season training ride – wish I’d have tried one earlier!