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Reliability Races

The Pyeongchang winter Olympics has wind, snow and ice. Why then are the 2018 Yorkshire Reliability rides not part of the South Korean games?  

Each year and across eight consecutive Sundays, cyclists in Yorkshire gather to batter the legs and stamina in a series of events that really test the clothing and not the rider.

The notion that a series of races should have the word ‘reliability’ linked to them is the first mistake because the word is too comforting. There is nothing reliable about the 80-100 km of hardship where bikes, bodies and garments are given the sternest of tests into headwinds and perennial discomfort but reliability is too friendly a term. In fact, one organiser has suggested their name be changed to ‘winter sportive’.

These events have been going for a number of years and are not races but on the rollout (having paid your £4 for the privilege)  you meet two types of rider: Those that set off like rockets and treat it as a race and those that can race and who have race pace who turn the events into a race. The result is a race. The unmarshalled tarmac in those first few kilometres is overspilling with testosterone and wrapped up in artic gilets, tights, overshoes, gloves, thermals, hats, and thick winter tops, it’s a wonder cyclist can get on a bike nevermind race one.

The Winter Olympics is midway through its programme and so are the reliability rides. Winter has been torched with the severest of the weather yet there is no such thing as a downhill to spring when the reliability programme is still up and running.

They are the beasts of the cycling calendar, and our very own version of Phil the groundhog. If the shadow of Punxsutawney emerges, if the sun shines down on a roadside puncture, the succour of a tailwind occurs, then we might just be looking at dusting down the wardrobe and thinking of warmer more reliable riding experiences.

The Yorkshire reliability rides are a series of eight events from mid-January to mid-March.