Big Red Ride

It’s the start of the outdoor season on the bike for me, and for the 3rd year running I’m attending the Big Red Ride, essentially a local fundraiser for Mansfield Road Club.

What I like about the first proper ride out, and this event in particular is that it’s not a training ride, not a club ride, not a sportive or any sort of race, but rather it’s billed as a Reliability Trial, which they describe thusly:

[The idea] is for each entrant to ride over a pre-set course within the agreed time that has been set, the route that is planned is suitable for all around riding ability it’s nothing to do with being the fastest. If you’re a rider who isn’t good with directions and need every junction marshalled, or unsure how maps work, find reading simple instructions difficult, can’t time your own ride, this is not the type of event for you.

For me, it’s a chance to get the bike out, and take on a good length course that manages to avoid any start of season ego trips or macho hill torture. There’s no pressure to be fast, and every opportunity to re-aquaint yourself with your bike, with the outdoors, and even with your cycling friends. I expect there’ll be actual stops here and there for flap jack, no agitating when you hit traffic lights, leisurely puncture stops without people stressing about whether to wait or shoot into the distance etc. I’ll not be bothering to fit all the gizmos to the bike, shan’t bother with a HR rate monitor and probably won’t even record the ride, and I won’t care one bit about carrying the extra weight of a massive sack of tools during an event (shock, horror, and not even carbon fibre water bottle holders!). In short an enjoyable ride, what it’s all about really.

Reliability, of the time described by the event organisers is certainly one thing that’s important to club riders. As a triathlete who spends far more time on the road in group rides than training alone it’s good to know which of your group is capable of sticking to a route, not dropping massively late notice left turns etc when leading, and capable of maintaining a consistent pace, regardless of how fast or slow that might be. Additionally, it’s a chance to reaffirm the reliability of your kit, and y our preparations for heading outdoors. I certainly strive to know what condition my bike is in at all times, and it get’s a nice service before being put to bed over the worst of winter so I can be sure it’s ready to go without needing a lengthy session to sort it out the night before it’s needed, i.e. tonight. More easy to neglect is the soft stuff. It’s been a lot longer than the couple of months the bike’s been hung up since I wore full length gloves, are they still OK or did I mean to replace them at the end of last spring and then forget, and just quietly switch to short fingered ones and thrown them in a drawer thinking it stupid to replace them in May and then not wear them for 5 months? I’ll spend more time going through my winter clothing than thinking about the bike, and there’s always 1 or 2 pieces of kit that you’d forgotten just how worn you had left them at the end of the previous winter, which can lead to the 2nd most fun part of being a triathlete, which is disposing of your disposable income…

Of course, true road warriors will probably think this a load of rubbish, having been out pedalling without a break for 28 straight years, but I like my winter indoors, I love a spin class (I’d love to teach a few one day), and I love my turbo (although the latter hasn’t really been used, do to my currently ridiculous work situation that requires me to keep weekends free from serious training). It’s good to break it up, and good to feel a season starting, rather than just finding you’re in it at an arbitrary point when the first event happens to arrive on the horizon.

Anyway, I’m hoping to enjoy a slow and relaxing 106km tomorrow, after which I’ll give Florence (the bike) a good old clean, and then start to attach all the electronic training aids and begin the switch into serious mode. I’ve a 6 day training camp in Mallorca coming up courtesy of my Tri Club (The ever popular Racing TNT) in a couple of weeks, and before that the chance to represent, well, myself, at the headquarters of Ashmei where I am shortlisted to potentially become an ambassador (#ashmeiambassador, for those who like their social media properly tagged…) for their brand – something which would put a hugely welcome injection of seriousness into my 2016, as well as provide the bibtights that I deserve 😉


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