This week things were a little different. The usual club run was replaced by the Redditch reliability ride. Plan was, according to Dave, and I quote “We drop off the back after the first hill, do gentle through and off on the way out and then pick it up on the way back.” That is the largest untruth I have ever heard, but more of that later. Due to the age of some of our readers I could not tell you what I really think.

I had received an email from Todger on Monday asking if I wanted to meet at Becketts, “potter” down and then do the ride and “potter” back. As I was looking to get some longer rides in before Majorca, I agreed, my first mistake. I received warnings on Tuesday at circuits about how hard this ride was, but I stuck to my guns. That was my second mistake.

When I met Todger at Becketts he was accompanied by one other rider. No problem, oh yes, it was Wilkes. Oh dear. Now this was not my fault as I did not know he was going to be there, but it was probably part of my undoing. The ride down was pleasant enough. Not hard, but still not slow either. Apart from me knocking off my pump, like an idiot, it was without incident.

The whole bunch was at the start. BCC starters were (Hope I remember everyone), myself, Todger, Wilksey, DAS, Bin man, China, Mick W, Nick Selibas, Beans, Pic (He is just about forgiven now) Andy Heaney, Nick W, Rich D, Rob and Ossie. No Bob which was disappointing. You only have to carry a number, not wear it, so maybe he can be persuaded next year. We all signed up for the Saintbury Fast run at 45miles. This was apart from Nick W who was going to do the Winchcombe run, but ended up coming with us anyway. The start involves a rather steep hill, after that we re-grouped and formed the BCC peleton for the ride. Nick W and Rich were up the front with the Sabre boys, so we left them to it. The “gentle” through and off then started. I suppose it was fairly gentle. We did not go above 30, often. Ian was blown out the back after 5 miles or so. China also was struggling. There was no let up on the hills either, but we did re-group after them. Nick and Rich were waiting for us after a few miles, but we politely stormed passed and made them chase up to us, well they need the exercise. As we worked our way out past Bidford, the number of those pulling gradually reduced as some chose a quick rest, well aware of the length of the ride. We caught another group in front and successfully ripped through them. Only one or two of them came through to work. Just before the turn I decided that a quick rest might be a good idea and took a couple of missed turns having a breather. We made it to the turn in just over an hour, pretty quick!

At the turn we took a leisurely break, had some food and got all the necessary paperwork completed. 5 mins and it was on our way again. We saw Ian just coming up to the turn as we left, still looking cheery. He definitely looked better than Rob, who had not had any sleep. Not the best idea to try a serious session, after another serious session, of a different kind. All I can say is, good one. Anyway the breeze as it was, was into our faces on the return and made turns at the front that much harder. The pace of the first leg had gone, but not the effort, especially on legs that had started to tire. The small rises and hills started to take more of a toll every time. Then came the long hill back up to Dunnington. As things split on the first hill there was a re-grouping to a smaller team. The big hitters departed on the first hill with the smaller hitters such as Beans. A more select group was left. I was at the front (Yes really) as we continued uphill. I was passed by Todger so I got his wheel. When I turned we were the only two there. The remainder of the hill was a one on one duel to the top. I would like to make this a dramatic piece of prose now, full of tension with dramatic twist and turns, but he won so I won’t bother. We waited at the top for those who took a more leisurely pace upwards. Oh and at some point Dave pushed Ossie and he would like it to be remembered that he pushed a 1st cat.

From the top was the run back into Redditch to the finish. Suddenly my legs did not feel so good and I sat in for a while. Then things got better, I came through for a couple of turns and then very suddenly worse. Pic took off after a roundabout and I was left, unable to raise it any more, Rob and Ossie were already gone. I rolled the last mile and a half back to the clubhouse. At the clubhouse we re-grouped (again) and had some tea and cakes. Then it was time to head back with Todge and Wilkes. Great. Fortunately they did not go off too fast, but they still left me as soon as we started to go uphill to Weatheroak. The stop and some food had sorted me out though and it was not too painful. I kept it rolling and did not have to resort to the crawler gear.

This was the first time I had ridden this event and I was not entirely prepared for it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it tremendously. I was disappointed to blow at the end, but I had done what I set out to do. I had surmised that I had been going a bit better this winter and not taken the bashing I was used to. Granted I had been dropped a couple of times, but I think I needed a jolly good kicking to keep the level moving. Well I got that, thanks to trying hard on the way out and driving on all hills the legs gave out big time, but importantly not as bad as they have done previously. I sit here now on Monday evening and the legs are not killing me either. I am quite happy with the way this season is progressing so far and I can’t wait to get to Majorca and get that dedicated week in. There is nothing better.