Komoot ambassadors Tom and Kell made the long journey north to Kielder Forest for one of the UK’s biggest gravel events – the Dirty Reiver. 1,200 riders descended on the tiny village of Kielder for a weekend in April to enjoy the endless gravel tracks and beautiful landscapes of the area.
Reflecting on a great weekend, here are their top eight reasons the Dirty Reiver is one of the UK’s best gravel events:
- There is virtually nowhere else in the country that has this much gravel. Forest roads and farm tracks criss-cross the huge Kielder Forest area. The organizers have been able to create a 125mile (200km) route with no repetition and minimal tarmac. Also, unlike some gravel events, there isn’t anything more technical in there, which will be welcomed by many.
- There’s loads more to explore beyond the event course. There’s not-too-technical mountain bike trails, an observatory and the stunning Kielder Water. It’s also easy to ride to the Scottish border and take in two countries in the same day.
- The feedstops are top notch. As well as the usual sweets, cake and bananas, the third feedstop – hosted by pannier.cc – serves up warm new potatoes with melted cheese. This is the perfect antidote to sickly energy gels and is guaranteed to see you the last few miles home. There’s also fresh coffee to caffeinate those legs for the sprint for the line.
- The views are epic. Despite mostly being in forest, there are incredible views from the tops of the (many) climbs. They stretch as far as the eye can see across the rolling Northumbrian landscape.
- The weather is always sunny. For the last two years, the sun has shone. It’s not always warm, but blue skies make the day go faster.
- Except when it isn’t. It has also snowed on Reiver weekend. It’s well worth being prepared for every weather eventuality on the day and carrying an extra layer.
- The atmosphere. Because the Dirty Reiver isn’t a race, there is less of a competitive feel amongst most of the participants. You are guaranteed to find someone to chat to along the way and share the miles with.
- You can ride the routes whenever you like. The fireroads of Kielder are open to all (it’s always worth checking to make sure logging or maintenance restrictions aren’t in place). Check out the Dirty Reiver’s komoot page for the 125, 80 and 40 mile (200km, 130km and 65km) options.