Where we are going we don’t need roads, but we will have gravel…..
The second Dirty Reiver saw 800 riders gather at Kielder Castle to raid the forestry tracks and fire roads of Kielder Forest Park, Northumberland National Park and across the borders into Scotland, taking on up to 200 km of mainly off road riding and between 3100 and 3300 m of climbing for the full Reiver, with a shorter 130 km ‘Dirty Thirty’ route also available.
For a roadie and someone from the flatlands of Norfolk this would seem like a strange place to be found, but persuasion and a really good review from a friend found me at the sub-zero start line preparing to join the full route for possibly the toughest ride I’d ever attempted. A minute of silence was taken in memory of cycling great and friend of the Reiver, Mike Hall, and then with a reminder that in those periods where we were struggling we should #BeMoreMike we set off. From the start line a neutralised period to the first offroad section was ridden in groups of 20-30 riders prior to the offroad timing start, where the fun commenced with a tough 7-11% gravel climb, followed by a brief fast descent. The precedent for the day was set, this was going to be a tough and my legs agreed early on this ‘Gravel Grinder’ was going to see some grinding!