Dishing the dirt on The Dirty Reiver – Episode 2
Three rider’s talk us through their experience of the epic Dirty Reiver, held in Kielder forest last weekend…
Rider: James Love
Ah, the Dirty Reiver. It had been on my ride to do’s since it was announced and, now it’s done (some of it anyway…)
From December I tried to ride more…as well as go to work, look after children and everything else, blah! This was sporadic throughout January and February, but generally going well, with distances increasing and plans to ride 200k before the event. But, mechanical issues with my gravel-modded ‘cross bike meant that in early March I switched miles for smiles and rode my Endurobro™ mountain bike instead, and then in Easter I fell ill – and not through eating too much chocolate. Two days in bed and two weeks off the bike was not part of my plan.
Still, I fixed my cyclcross bike (at the 11th hour) thanks to a borrowed rear wheel and the friction shift setting on my shifter (thanks Gevenalle!) I rode a little in the days leading up to the 16th to make sure it all worked, coughing and spluttering a little and feeling like I was decoking my engine. With only one last thing to do, wrap the bars with some fresh 3.2mm LizardSkinkz tape the night before and I was good to go!
Shivering at the start line I reminded myself to – spin to win/finish. Taking it easy, regular sipping and munching my eclectic mix of food (cheese oatcakes, beef jerky, assorted oats ‘n’ nut bars, dark chocolate marzipan to name a few) was my gameplan, and I did well to stick to it. I found a nice rhythm that had me yo-yo’ing with friends and the boss nearly the whole way round.
As the distance increased and the drivetrain became drier, the ride had the feeling of being on a long distance rollercoaster…one of the old school wooden ones with a little bit of vibration, shaking, high adrenaline good times with epic views in a wonderful landscape and All-the-weather™.
Click, click, click winching up to roll over rises/crests, settle into a tuck for the downs keeping loose and fast – familiar terrain for me. It can get pretty rough where I live and ride – I was happy to use my usual 40c tubeless WTB NANO’s which worked well here also (36psi or thereabouts front & rear) with no flats and no mechanical issues. I was lucky, unlike many!
I was glad to pack a bottle of lube to hush my agricultural sounding drivetrain post ford/river crossing (and so were others – I shared the lube love at feed station 2 where I ate like an animal until I calmed down/was sated)
My clothing was right, gear ratios good for the ups, downs and along, my luggage/supplies maybe a little excessive, learning from this I would go without the large saddlebag next time and I do want to do it (all) again. See you next year?
Rider: Rob Dobson
Everyone I spoke to agreed that the organisation was flawless, with excellent course marking, spirit-raising marshals, and three well-stocked feed stations. There wasn’t quite consensus on the right bike. Some of the fastest times were by people riding hardtails. I, however, couldn’t have endured a more upright position on some of the flatter sections, especially when confronting a headwind.
The Genesis Criox De Fer 20 I rode was flawless. It may not be lightweight, but the steel frame and fork give an inexperienced off-roader like me more confidence in the corners and as smooth a ride as I could hope for on a drop bar bike. I ran 38mm Specialized Trigger Pros (reviewed in issue 006) set up tubeless and did not experience any significant loss of traction despite the variable surfaces and hilly terrain- loose gravel, hardpacked gravel, singletrack, tarmac, a few rocky bridleway sections. I did not puncture – unfortunately plenty of other riders did, some multiple times.
Rider: Giles Perkins
The Dirty Reiver was always going to be a significant challenge for me. I’ve never been an endurance rider and when racing it’s only ever been the hour of ‘cross or short distance time trials. I started preparing back in January ramping up the distance and time in the saddle, but even with a few all day efforts I was still short on the Dirty Reiver’s distance of 200km, and nowhere near the 3,500m of ascent.
My goal was simple: to finish. Knowing it was going to be a twelve-hour stint, I packed heavy. A frame bag was loaded with food, spares and paper maps, saddle bag with tools and a dry bag with spare base layer, socks, gloves and emergency kit.
I rode my pact Bikes CBCX custom Ti crosser with RockShox fork, tubeless WTB Nanos shod on Kinesis Crosslight wheels. The larger volume tyres meant I was puncture free throughout, pinch flats seeming to snag numerous other riders. The suspension up front muting any jarring from the varied parcours, and saving my puny upper body.
The ride was brutal, but beautiful. The course was rolling throughout, partly sheltered by plantations, sometimes totally exposed where there’d been logging. Vista after vista opened up with each hill conquered, descents giving enjoyable speedy respite from the climbing.
It was a four seasons kind of day. Early morning snow flurries gave way to glorious sunshine, which ceded to hail, back to snow of Scandinavian beauty and finally a beautiful sunny evening. I’d layered up, and whilst warm at times I wasn’t stopping to swap clothing like other riders as the weather changed. I suffered, and I suffered big. Mid-way I had a very dark couple of hours and the last 40km or so was mentally very tough, but I finished before the light faded: 12 hours, 13 minutes and 27 seconds.
Riders are consistently saying this was a brilliant event, superbly executed, physically and mentally challenging, in one of the most beautiful parts of the country – believe them, believe me, it was remarkable!
If there’s another Dirty Reiver ride it, I’ll certainly be back, I’ve already a new goal in mind!