Reliability Rides Harder Than Racing… Official

Derwent Valley Wheelers Peter Taylor Memorial ride this morning, in memory of the gent who used to run Cockermouth’s long-established Derwent Valley Cycle Sport. The reliability format allows as many people as possible to get involved and also makes things much simpler insurance-wise. It’s basically a sportif kind of ride without the timing. About 5 of the local racing snakes turned up, meself included, so it was assured that the quick group was going to be pretty hardcore!

But i’ve never ridden a reliability like that… Usually they don’t go crazy until after the stop. Then the fast guys start competing for bragging rights. Today we rolled out at 20 mph and it never lifted off. There’s a big climb up to Overwater about 6 miles into the route and Garth and Sean attacked up it. On a reliaibility ride after 10km.

I assumed they were just testing each others legs, being brothers and all, and so didn’t respond. But no… On they went, quickly joined by Brian Payton (local king of the Time Trial scene) on a cobbled together bike with a 55 chain ring. So before we knew what had happened we were hurling ourselves down the other side at speeds of up to 65kph. I had closed the gap by the bottom but the front of the ride was down from 12 to 5.

All was calm for a couple of miles of gentle descent, then up a sharp little rise in Boltongate, Honister 92’s answer to the Schlecks gave it another almighty dig. This was about 20 miles into a 60 mile ride. I really cannot express how much a serious breach of reliability etiquette this was (etiquette rule no. 3490 No dropping PD Malcolm.), joined by Payton, they started to sail down towards the A595 with me and one of the local triathletes chasing hard. Their gap increased further after we got stuck at a junction they had just crossed and after that me and the Tri-Guy rode the first half together trying to keep them in sight, and failing. This despite riding the first 50km at 32.5 kph with a headwind for the last 20.

At the cafe, something marvellous happened and it had nothing to do with my caramel shortbread or double espresso. Me and Tri-Guy arrived to find we were the first there. The three who had gone shooting off up the road had missed a turning, arriving 15 minutes after us. You can be as fast as you like, you know, but you have to get round the course. They had evidently failed on the “reliability” part of the day.

Second half saw the five of us and traning buddy Mike leave together (he had forgotten to put his clock forward. Most funny) to ride down the Cumbrian coast towards Allonby, into the teeth of an evil headwind. Down there, the wind doesn’t just force you to grind your way along, it blows sand in your face too. Horrible riding. Payton’s 55, my brute force and ignorance and Sean looking disgracefully smooth powered the group along before we turned back in land to climb over the bank of hills that lie just inland. A good pace was set here too, passing people who’s left the cafe before us, rolling along in conversation, trying to attack 25 miles from home (hem hem hem). Mike pulled off at this juncture, sensible man, and Brian had punctured, leaving myself and the Schlecks.

If I do say so myself, we worked fairly steadily over the last 20 miles. Partly due to recognising we were pretty evenly matched, partly due to being knackered. Grinding into a headwind was really tough and I could feel cramp starting on all the little steep climbs that dotted the end of the course. The final rise saw me try to use what little I had left to get away (see? These always degenerate into a race). Sean got dropped, but Garth steamed away for the “victory”, leaving me “second”. Pleasing ride on a good course.

I am, however, destroyed. I’ve cramped 3 times whilst writing this, which is what motivated the title. Seriously, if those boys ever get it into their heads to pin on a number, they could do some real damage. I plan to take tomorrow to recover and then get into the Sportif training plan I outlined on Friday.