Dishing the Dirt on the Dirty Reiver Rider Reports – Episode 3
Rider: Beate Kubitz
I signed up to the Dirty Reiver complacently; full of fitness gained for a late October 24 hour race. But, with a three month long bout of post-race pie eating (quite literally) under my belt and the return to training curtailed by a chest infection, I started the Reiver with proper trepidation.
At least it was sunny. So what if it would take forever and a day? Clouds scudded over the blue sky, and the tracks curved out over the hills and into the distance invitingly.
The thing about 200km is that it takes you a long way. It takes you over moorland, down through forests, up to the snow-brushed heath that sparkles ahead. And it takes you under – and through – the weather fronts that scrape themselves across the hills. Look down at the swooping gravel trail too long and you might not notice that the height has carried you into a snow cloud until the fat flakes land on your tyres. Muffle yourself against the chill and soon an unaccustomed feeling of warmth softens your shoulders and a glance ahead reveals the path is set across golden grasses, glowing in the now unobscured sunshine.
I may not really have been fit enough for a long ride, but I dialed back the speed and just drank in the views. The landscape is high but rounded, patterned with routes seemingly to nowhere but perfect for ‘cross bikes just riding for the hell of it. Long steady climbs gave way to screaming flat out, off-the-brakes show-no-mercy descents – and with the occasional forest path and rocky section thrown in for fun. Let’s not mention the foot deep ford though.
The Reiver was great day out. I treated it sociably; chatting to people met on the trail and limped in, weary and jollied along by fellow riders, as it got dark. There were tales of joy and woe at the finish (as people hit weather at different places on the course and of the pointy Kielder gravel that took out many tyres) but all wrapped in the satisfaction and exhaustion of a big day’s ride.
Rider: Giacomo Maltman
Masochism. Noun:…gratification gained from pain, deprivation, degradation, etc., inflicted or imposed on oneself, either as a result of one’s own actions or the actions of others, especially the tendency to seek this form of gratification.
There I was, sat in my sleeping bag, drinking my favourite beer, stuffing my face with food and drifting in and out of sleep in the back of a van. It was freezing outside as I sheltered from the intermittent snow showers. My toes were coming back to life and my wrists and palms were beginning to stop tingling. I had just finished the Dirty Reiver 200, something that was never a certainty when I lined up with hundreds of other riders that morning.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the trials and tribulations of the day. The highs, such as; the beautiful undulating track around Kielder Water, the always cheery marshals giving words of encouragement, the feeling of remoteness and of course finishing and being handed a beer instantly.
Then there were the lows; the shredded tyre tentatively fixed with a tyre boot, two of my friends having to pull out at 130km and the hallucinations. I’m still not sure if that bright pink gravel section at about 160km was real or not… Anyone?
I was completely content having pushed myself all day to get through the pain and tiredness. It hurt and it felt great.
Riders: Rich Naylar and Shona Oldfield.
We first expressed an interest in a Salsa Powderkeg around four years ago. Prototypes came and went, we couldn’t get our hands on anything small enough. There was obviously a lot going on Stateside that helped to produce the amazing bike we had just got our hands on. One Saturday two weeks ago a very large box popped out of a courier van and landed in our workshop. We got busy with the spanners and nipple wrench and had a shakedown ride on Sunday. Amazing. Felt right at home from the go and before long we were on our way to Kielder to ride 200k of gravel…
We got to Kielder Castle late on Friday night, just in time to register before it closed for the evening. After a cosy night’s sleep we woke up at 5:30 to a light dusting of snow on the ground and fluttering from the sky. Thankfully that didn’t last long, and we lined up at the back of the pack for rider briefing and an unhurried start to the day at just after 7am.
Everyone was in chirpy spirits!
Lately we’ve been pretty short on long bike rides, busy at work and bouts of sickness keeping both our mileages modest. Our plan for the day was to go super steady, have a bit of banter and get home without incident. We’d looked at the profile for the course and unsurprisingly it didn’t show a lot of flat sections – rolling terrain with three big climbs. The nature of tandems meant the those climbs were taken nice and steady, but once at the top we could take advantage of gravity and hit speeds of up to 46 mph on the most hardpacked of descents. The rolling stuff in between could be taken at pace so long as we got our gear selection right, all helped by the Rohloff hub of course. We’ve got some big 200mm rotors on the Powderkeg so stopping wasn’t an issue – the brake pad eating-reputation of Kielder wasn’t a problem, we carried two sets of spare brake pads but there was no need. This time.
Many riders, including us, were also carrying far too much food. The event catering was simply amazing. Three food stations crammed with chatty people, sandwiches, scones, energy food, bananas, tea and coffee, Jaffa cakes and more. All still available when the tail end of the field was coming through. A triumph of organisation and something other events should take note of.
We got plenty of all kinds of weather. Climbing got everyone warmed up nicely to be shortly followed by long, straight descents that were pretty damn chilly. There was a sustained period of snow and hail that was quickly forgotten once the blue skies & sun came out again. Everyone was smiling throughout, happy days.
We’re hoping to return for this event next year. Nothing at all to criticize, well put together with super friendly people and a great course. Well done to Paul and all involved.