On one level the notion of a trial to see how reliable you are on a bike sounds absurd - like a grading test to see who arrives on time for a club ride but after a potentially dormant winter you need a way of gauging how good your fitness levels are. Although Reliability Trails are part of the old school cycle tradition that people like Team Sky are ripping apart for many they still mark the first target date in the new cycle season calendar. Skill, Judgement and knowledge all combine in a timed trial over three distances, usually 45, 70 and 100km at three different intensity levels. Unlike a sportive it's not an all out effort against the clock but rather an intelligent realistic estimate of your strength and stamina in order to place yourself in a set finishing category. The object is to complete the trial within 10 minutes (either way) of your allocated target time. Obviously this doesn't take into account factors like the weather, severity of terrain and mechanical failures etc. It's a lot like the differences found between billiards and snooker, similar in technique but opposed in outcome.