It's still the middle of winter, and the temperature is barely above zero degrees, but a group of twenty riders all sit together in the hazy morning light at 7:30am waiting to set off in search of the seasons first 'Reliability Ride'. So what exactly are they? The reliability rides are historically a pre-season training ride designed to enhance a riders fitness, and test the reliability of their bike in the days when cycling equipment was less reliable and the roads not quite as smooth.
Today however, things have changed and with bikes being built to a much better standard and the introduction of Strava and GPS, it's much less of a challenge of reliability, but much more focused on the training and a pre-season test of how strong you are compared to the riders around you. That has lead to the reliability ride becoming more a reliability race, with riders vying for position on the road in bunches of well over a hundred cyclists aiming to be the first person home that day.
Personally, I see it as quite enthralling and a great day in the saddle with a solid training session under the belt; today's ride being a fantastic 70 miles in total at 19.5mph with some great disciplined riding at the front of the peleton. However, from further back there is often the news of crashes as riders come to close or corner too fast and these fast training rides can soon become season ending if tackled the wrong way and with over a hundred people on the road it can be a bit of a squeeze, some cars will inevitably get held up and occasionally there will be crashes.
However it's too easy to say these rides are dangerous, and I don't think they are if you ride them in the mindset of a training ride - that is what they are after all! Bringing so many riders together gives a great opportunity to have some banter, make some new friends, test yourself against the local clubs, and most of all reap the benefits of a solid training ride whilst having some fun and element of competition helps to keep things fun on the road.
Overall we had a great day out around Yorkshire and by the end of the ride everyone felt suitably tired and feeling as though they had been on a solid training ride ,with everyone I know getting home safely.
There are still six more reliability rides around Yorkshire this year so maybe I'll see some of you on the road soon! You can find a breakdown of the upcoming rides here.