The Dirty Reiver 2019
* a preview
Whilst the US is known for its endless trails of Hero Gravel, the UK is probably better known for its "briddleways" and - of course - its complimentary mud. Kielder Forest in the North East of the UK is the exception though. The enormous network of forestry roads stretches over a huge area of this sparsely populated corner. It is the perfect location for the UK’s best known gravel event.
The Dirty Reiver, presented by Bombtrack, turns four in 2019, and has grown with each edition so far. At its heart is a gruelling, but achievable 200km loop, but a 130km and a new 65km loop are available too to cater for everyone’s needs. Starters quickly spread out in the first few miles of course, but there is always someone to ride with – new friendships made, sometimes for an hour or two, sometimes for as long as it takes to say hi, or raise a hand in acknowledgement.
Long climbs are rarely steep, but frequently trick you with false summits hidden by the trees. Descents are a high speed affair, demanding attention and rewarding those with tubeless tyres (count the number of riders repairing pinched inner tubes on the first descent). It pays to follow the old endurance racing adage of “start slow and get slower”; the Reiver is a big day out, no matter how fit you are.
Each feedstop is a welcome break from pedalling, and depending on the weather, an opportunity to shelter from the elements or lounge in the sun. But, the longer you linger, the longer it will be before you are ticking off the last stretches of track around Kielder Water.
2019 sees some significant changes to the 200km and 130km routes. Whilst the actual GPS file generally isn’t released until shortly before the event, some staff from Lyon Equipment, our UK distributor, headed out recently with the event organisers for a recce of the new route.
In terms of climbing, the 200km route still delivers a healthy 3500m+ of vertical gain so climbing legs will still come in useful. The big difference is that rather than going North up to the Scottish border (via the gruelling climb from what used to be feed 2), the route instead heads much further South East in search of some finely graded Hero Gravel.
The event organisers seem to think this will result in a pretty fast route, conditions permitting, so we should see some faster times coming through.
Whilst the Dirty Reiver is not a race and more of an Independent Time Trial, there will be a racier section in 2019. The Lauf Special Stage, effectively a timed hill climb 180km into the 200km route, will spur you on to battle out the last climb in style. The fastest man and woman will win a Lauf for and will be invited to The Rift, a gravel race through the black lava fields of Iceland.
What won’t change are some of the key features that make the Reiver the Reiver. Stunning scenery, camaraderie, all out suffering, buttered potatoes, some on course heckling by the Bombtrack crew and of course a warm welcome back to Kielder Castle.