Category Archives: reliability trials

>Willesden CC Reliability Trial

>Sunday was a nice day for a ride out (unlike last year’s event). I entered the short (36 mile) event, but couldn’t work out the route – after five years I’m still regularly confounded by the lanes round here. I decided to head out with the mid-speed group on the 100km event and turn round early. After 10 miles of getting dropped on every drag, twice regaining the group as they were held up at traffic lights, I was finally permanently detached on the short climb out of Chorleywood.

I kept the pace going on the rubbish road surfaces to Chesham, keeping the lights of the following cars in sight. As I left Chesham I accepted that this was going to be a solo ride and eased back a bit on the long, gradual ascent to Wendover Woods. I passed quite a few puncture victims on the way.

At Wendover I turned left and headed back to the HQ via Amersham, Chalfont Common and Denham. It’s two years since I rode the second half of the route over Bledlow Ridge and Small Dean Lane. My climbing form is so rubbish at the moment I think there may have been walking involved. I may be losing weight, but my climbing technique is useless at the moment – work to do.

I got back to Ickenham having covered just over 50 miles in about 3 hours (62 miles door to door for the day). The refreshments were, as ever, excellent.

I only just got back ahead of the fastest guys on the 100km route. My ex-club mates from the Willesden seemed to have a variety of epic rides, at least one of them involving a taxi.

The house move situation seemed to step up a gear at the end of last week. Some ultimatums from other parts of the chain led to a couple of sleepless nights. It does look as if things are accelerating – hopefully not falling apart. The thing is not to panic.

Less than two weeks to the first race (providing we don’t move the next day).

>Team Quest Reliability Trial (short route)

>Sunday was bright and cold. Time for my first event of the year: The Team Quest reliability trial.

I haven’t ridden on the road for several weeks, so I decided to ride the short route (73km). With the ride to the HQ and back I would clock up just over 55 miles for the day.

We started at 9:30 – after the groups riding the full 100km+ course had set out. There were about a dozen of us to start with and we kept it together until about half way (Marlow). I did a bit of work on the front. This was especially valuable on the climb of Winter Hill where I could slip back gracefully and still be in touch by the summit.

The route back was pretty good apart from the climb of Kiln Lane. I’m afraid that I bailed out early and walked (I have a dread of stalling and not being able to unclip my feet on a climb – this dread is based on bitter experience). I think I was still third over the summit.

The last few miles were enlivened by being caught by a couple of faster riders. That hurt a bit. We finished the 73km in about 2:50 to 2:55.

It was a well-organised event with an HQ (great refreshments before and afterwards), free gifts and a well-signposted, carefully thought out route. The season has begun.

>Easing back

>An easier week this week. Just a few signs of not coping with training (power drop off, insomnia, dry throat, difficulty with breathing etc.). I know it makes sense, but I still feel guilty. In the past I’d have trained until I dropped (i.e. caught a cold, strained a muscle, thrown a wobbly) and then have been forced to rest.

So 10% less work this week and no long ride. Tomorrow’s a rest day (family do). ABW I’ll be back to the schedule on Monday, fresh and ready to go.

The reliability trial season is on the horizon. I had hope to start with the Lewes Wanderers‘ event on 23rd January, but this was reliant on us having moved South. There’s the Harp Hilly Hundred on the same day, but I’ll probably wait until the following week and ride the shorter of the two Team Quest events. I’ve not done enough road riding to be confident in the hills yet!

Details of all six Chiltern Classic reliabilities are here.

>Calshot and Willesden CC reliability

>Saturday to Calshot with Andy H of the Westerley CC (cheers for the lift, Andy) for the penultimate Prime Coaching session of the Winter. Keith and Tony were the coaches and Aileen registered the riders and co-ordinated the timing.

This was my first ride on my new second hand track bike (left) – I just managed to get it built in time. It handled well, but I need to check the position again (sore knees).

A smaller group than normal meant that we had plenty of track time – that is: plenty of time to get frazzled. We went through a whole series of exercises including a timed flying lap. I ‘flew’ to a 12.06sec lap. Andy did it in 11.51sec, so I got a lift home. I bottled out of the last Madison exercise – maybe next time.

The photos are all by Tony using Andy’s camera.

Sunday was the Willesden CC reliability trial. The day started with heavy rain. A lot of riders thought better of starting. Though the downpour stopped quite quickly the roads were wet throughout and drenched the riders.

As we climbed to Wendover Woods the wetness turned to slush and then to snow. I’d been thinking of turning short at Wendover anyway, and these conditions looked like a good excuse (especially after the experience of the Team Quest reliability).

Five of us (including fellow WCC members Rich and Richie) headed back along the A413 and Denham to the HQ at Ickenham where the low number of participants meant there was plenty of tea and cake to be had. I should feel guilty about cutting the ride short (plenty didn’t), but I don’t.

The photos  are by organiser John. He had hoped to ride but understandably didn’t want to risk injuring his hair style in the damp conditions.

>A brief update

>I did not get into the first half of the field in the last Winter Series event – 26th out of 39 finishers. Work to do on the sprint. Alex Murray’s write up is here and Martin Porter makes a great case for riding the series here.

My sister Marie (left) has added a Southland region Bronze Medal in the Women Masters Individual Pursuit to her NZ Masters Games medals. She has now been selected for the Southland team for the National Championships on March 3rd. Good luck, Masha.

I’ve had a pretty duff week for motivation. I didn’t touch the bike on the best day (Wednesday). Though I’ve had downs this Winter this is the first time I’ve had problems with training.

Hopefully this weekend’s Calshot session and the Willesden CC reliability on Sunday will re-engage me.

>Edgware RC reliability trial

>The Edgware reliability is the flattest of the Chiltern Classic series. I like it.

Today’s event took place on a messy day – starting in flurries of snow and then persistent drizzle through the day. This made the roads very messy. Naturally several people (self included) decided to take out their non-mudguard bikes.

I started with the slow group (4-4.5 hours for nearly 100km) and we started at a sensible pace (all on the 39 ring). I even managed to do some turns. At about half way there is the only steepish hill (Honey Lane?) on the course. The effort increased and the gaps opened. I started the hill slowly, but kept going and had the lead bunch in sight over the top. I clicked across to the 53 ring and started chasing. Groups formed and split for the next 30 minutes or so before a working group coalesced and the effort needed dropped. I was well pooped.

The ride to the finish was a bit up and down in pace (not so down that I could do a decent turn) but we still kept it going to finish in 3h 30m for the course. Not many of the later starting fast group caught us, so it was a good ride (about 75 miles door to door).

I was so covered in road dirt that a customer at the finish cafe asked me if I’d fallen in a ditch. Oh for a camera.

Thanks to the Edgware RC for organising the event (and using it to raise funds for the Alzheimers Society).

>Team Quest Reliability Trial and Cycling Past 50


I opted for the 90km route on Quest’s reliability trial (trying to avoid hills again). It has the great benefit of going up the long, gradual Hughendon Valley climb which suits a heavy diesel like me. I still managed to get dropped towards the top though.

We were slower this year. We had several extended icy sections to traverse and this year we worked hard (i.e. waited) to keep the 10 strong group together for the whole ride. I’m rather grateful – I struggled after yesterday’s effort.

My little brother bought me Cycling Past 50 by Joe Friel for Christmas. He can be hurtful sometimes.

I haven’t opened it yet but I’m looking forward to the chapters on Carbo-Loading With Werther’s Originals, Fitting SPD Cleats to Slippers and Which Oakleys Go Best With YourMeerschaum Pipe? Thanks, Gary.

>Calshot and an Audax

>I’ve been having great fun riding at Calshot Velodrome this Winter. I’ve written an entry for the Prime Coaching blog here.

Last Saturday I rode the Little Willy 115km Audax from Chalfont St Peter organised by the Willesden CC. To be honest, I rode it to avoid riding the classic Harp Hilly Hundred reliability trial the next day. I’m getting a complex about hills.

Anyway, it turns out that the Little Willy has plenty of hills of its own. The first leg to Pangbourne was okay, but then we climbed to Christmas Common which was a proper hill. My mates John and Graham kept towing me for which I am very grateful. Just after the common John managed to get lost and Graham and I got lost chasing after him (never did catch him). Graham guided me to Henley, then Marlow before climbing Winter Hill (steep bend) and several other banks. Within 15 miles of the finish Graham punctured and bonked. I was able to nurse him towards home, grateful of the reduction in speed. He then punctured again with 3 miles to go.

I am grateful to the lady who subbed me a pound to buy a cheese sandwich at the end.

With the ride to the start and back I clocked up 104 miles for the day. This is the first time I’ve done the ton since 1978. I don’t think I’ve ever done it in January before. It wasn’t one of my official targets, but it’s good to achieve it.

Photograph by Chris Matson / CC BY-SA 2.0