By: Jon Hornbeck
Here we catch up on part 2 of our experience over in the U.K. for the Dirty Reiver Gravel event.
After 40km or so a group of five of us emerged together at the front and settled down a bit. Looking around at my new friends I knew I would be spending the next few hours with I really took stock in the different world I was now in compared to a year ago racing with the World Champ on the road and the Team SKy’s, etc. One rider had a full beard half way down his jersey wearing a good size camel back, the next was a pro mountain biker getting some training in, another journalist from a European outlet, a rider sporting a well stocked fanny pack and myself. An odd assortment of riders but all here for the same reason, to simply have a good time on the gravel roads through out the UK.
Through out the ride we came across trees that lasted for miles and then we would open gates to ride across farm lands, and have to wait for the cattle to let us by. The scenery was simply amazing as it’s literally another world from what I’m accustomed to riding gravel on. Think of the movie Behind Enemy Lines as Owen Wilson is running through the country side while being chased.
Towards the end of the ride our lead group broke apart and we all rode in on our own. The last 15km took us on a twisting bicycle/walking path around the lake then up to the castle for a stellar finish to cap off a fantastic grueling 200km. Finishing the ride I rolled up to the castle to set my 3T down on a rack where I grabbed a beer and chatted with the other riders and vendors on hand about the past seven hours.
After finishing the ride it’s no surprise to find out that the Dirty Reiver has become the largest US style Gravel event in Europe. They have checked off all of the boxes from the course to the venue and even the well stocked rest stops with more then enough volunteers to lend you a hand. If you can grab an entry and make your way over to the UK in the future I highly recommend it as I plan on going back next year.
Photos: Marc Gasch