2016 Dirty Reiver United Kingdom Gravel Event Wrap Up
It’s in the books, folks. The 2016 Dirty Reiver 200 kilometer gravel ‘challenge’ event took place this past weekend in the northern end of England (as well as in and out of Scotland), and by all accounts the event was a major success.
Anticipation for the DR200 was high, as entries for it sold out blindingly fast. The route was revealed months ago, and it looked to be good, coursing through some beautiful country that was remote, quiet and generally free from automobiles. Once clipped in and tires started to roll the route, it did not disappoint.
A light snow was falling upon the Kielder Castle area when the sun started to rise before the early start on Saturday. The large group of participants meant that we were started in waves in an effort to keep congestion to a minimum for the first several kilometers of the ride. About the same time as the last wave was sent out on the all-day adventure, the clouds broke to reveal mostly blue skies and sun. And warmth.
The Dirty Reiver course was an amazing collection of logging roads that weaved in and out of beautiful forest (and de-forested areas), and up and down some challenging, but not terribly difficult, hills. Some of the roads were rough, but they were hardly terribly technical, which meant riders could confidently press on with speed as they felt comfortable doing so. There were a couple of short, more technical mountain-bikey sections that had a decent amount of slog to overcome, but those parts amounted to probably less than a kilometer. There were also some paved parts of the route, but I can count on one hand how many short sections of ‘smoothness’ my tires touched.
Management and organization of the event was top-notch. Everything from registration to expectation-setting to course marking (the markings on the course were fantastic) was logically approached and executed.
While organizers were clear to point out the Dirty Reiver was NOT a race, it was clearly noted that the event could be considered a ‘challenge.’ Oh, it was definitely a challenge on a personal level, but it was also an inter-personal challenge, meaning rider times would be tracked and displayed. As such, it must be noted that George Budd, riding for A Cycling/Pivot Cycles, was the first to cross the finish line, doing so in just under eight hours. Joe Norledge was second at 08:08:04, and Josh Ibbett finsihed less than two minutes later. Full results for finishers can be found here.
Of course events like these are all about the riding, the course, the location and the bicycles, but what makes an event extra special is also the people, the atmosphere and the details. Organizers of the Dirty Reiver clearly knew to check all those boxes when planning the event.
Some examples: The food and drink on offer at the three ‘rest’ stops was absolutely fantastic. Heaps of homemade pies, sandwiches and coffee were inhaled by starving riders. The small expo area at the start/finish saw Salsa Cycles, Panaracer, Raleigh and Tyne Bank Brewery (and its free pints of Peloton Ale), and…ahem…grit.cx all get behind the event and off-road riding with their presence, attention and support. Registration was quick, easy and friendly. Most participants enjoyed camping and caravan lodging very close by, and the café in the Keilder Castle provided much needed warmth, food and drink.
And if the course wasn’t challenging and long enough (It was. Trust me.), the weather added another variable to contend with. Thankfully…and surprisingly…the rain stayed away. Yet the weather did play some games with the event and participant heads. Sunny and blue skies frequently gave way to clouds, some wind and…at some particularly painful parts of the course…wind-driven sleet in the face, which gave way to at least thirty minutes of heavy snow. As expected, the snow didn’t last long, and the clouds broke again to reveal some warming sun. As you can imagine, temperatures varied rather significantly throughout the day.
There’s no official word on when/if the Dirty Reiver will return next year, but judging by the smiles (and grimaces) seen this past weekend, we’re sure we’ll see you there in 2017.
Until then, our coverage on grit.cx will continue this week, and we’ll also run a feature article on the event in issue 008 of the printed magazine. Keep an eye on the web site for some words from various people about their experience with the event, what kind of kit they rode and how they conquered it.