On Sunday 4th November the club hosted the second running of it's end of season reliability trial. And though we had hoped for an entry of over eighty i.e last years numbers. It soon dawned on us that the weather that day was going to put a lot of riders off. It wasn't just raining it was hooning down. Even before the start there were reports of flooding along the route.
So with that in mind we were pleased to see about forty brave souls roll out. Including three that somehow thought it was a good idea that very day to ride even though they hadn't pre entered!
I should say that as host I go out with the short course riders. I've been out in this many times over the decades so there was nothing to prove and certainly no itch to scratch.
We all stepped out into the deluge, it's that rain that if you stick your lip out you can drink it. Outside Jason Horn DCO and Bar gave us a post ride briefing I'm sure everyone was listening?
I let the riders go, waited a few minutes and set off myself at a steady roll. Just after Mentmore I came across the first riders so I pulled up alongside and chatted with them. I'm pretty sure I saw a group of four heading back at that point to.
We kept together to the foothills of the Crong but slowly split apart as the climbing became harder. On the Crong itself I had a weird feeling? there was so much water coming down the hill it really was like a river and I was riding against the tide.
At the top I came across a large group that Keith seemed to be leading. We stopped to gas about how crazy the rain was, got cold and moved on. What hits you is how the temperature changes when you climb over certain hills, and once over the top of this one it was bloody freezing. Even with winter gloves on I was trying to hide my fingers from the wind and rain. I don't usually hurt, but this was freezing cold. I was actually gagging for a climb just to get the blood flowing.
We stayed together until just after Champneys were I took some riders along the revised route, whilst others took the very direct descent into Northchurch. I'd decided that the straight down drop with tight bend at the bottom and grotty surface might catch a few tired riders out. So I added a far nicer swooping loop through narrow lanes that I thought safer and plain nicer. However the safe route took us through the deepest of the flooding, hey ho. Once out of the floods it was the steady climb up to Ringshall passing Toms Hill on the way. Riding this section I came across two singlespeeders riding the course, I think they were surprised to know there were two more singlespeeders doing it. A quick left at Ringshall leads you to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon, always a good test of fitness that road. On the descent off the side of the Beacon and down into Ivinghoe Aston the group grew in numbers. The long straight flat to Train Robbers Bridge was very welcoming especially with the added tail wind. After that it's just a steady roll through the lanes of Ledburn until you hit Leighton Buzzards industry, then you know the club house is just seconds away.
I thought of that old book title 'One more kilometre and we're in the showers' but I don't think my fellow riders knew what I was referring to.
Back at the club house LBRCC stalwarts Iain and Jason were on hand to revive wet cold riders, I even had sugar in my tea when I got there. I was expecting the place to be full of riders, but hardly anyone was back? just Vince standing there with his teeth doing a great castanets impression and his kit going round in the tumble dryer. I do like to stay on and see people back, but today we were too cold and it wasn't a good idea to dry off only to ride back home in the rain. So I made my apologies to Iain and Jason and thanked them both and bid me adieu.
I can't begin to tell you what a great little reliability trial this is. It will always be tough because it arrives with the first of the years truly bad weather so seems that much tougher. Well done to those that did the full 100km you are truly bloody minded. Foe everyone else the short course still holds enough kudos as it's a tough little bugger.