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Gravel racing* hits the UK (*it’s not a race)

The Dorset Gravel Dash 100 is a one stage, one day, largely off-road 100 mile romp across the west county organized by Swanage based webshop Charlie The Bikemonger. Taking place on the second bank holiday in May, that’s Sunday 25th, the reliability trial (it’s not a race, okay?) starts and finishes at The Red Lion in Swanage with coffee and bacon sarnies for the Grande Departe and music, beer and a BBQ at the finish.

The 100 miles in between will feature not just gravel but a mix of dirt, mud, some tarmac sections, chalk, technical riding and grassy bits with the halfway point being the 899 foot high chalk scarp of Bulbarrow Hill. Climbing is estimated at about 8,000 feet overall, so it’s a pretty lumpy route over the Dorset Downs then.


Considering the name and the mix of terrain a Gravel Racer would be the ideal machine to tackle the Gravel Dash and as Charlie The Bikemonger is a Salsa dealer he suggests their Warbird gravel bike as the ideal vehicle (other gravel racers are available), but if you haven’t got one of those yet then a cyclo-cross bike is probably the next best bet, a mountainbike would also be just fine.

The route will be supplied via a GPX file about a month before the event for you to plug it into your GPS or mark it down on your OS map.  There will be no markers or arrows on the route, nor will there be any marshals or food stops so you will need to navigate it yourself and be self-supporting nutritionally, sportive fans look elsewhere. There are separate categories for normal people, those who want to make it even harder by riding single speed, and those who want to make it harder still by riding fixed. There are also categories for tandem bicycles and this year’s off-road trend of fatbikes. Whichever way you choose to get round you can expect stunning scenery, varied terrain and a massive day out.

Entry to the Dorset Gravel Dash 100 is £45, which includes camping for the weekend, or £35 without. Camping is provided at California Barn on the hill above Swanage where you get toilets, cold water, a fire pit with a DJ, and big views across the sea. Unfortunately there’s only room for 100 campers but there are plenty of local alternatives available for the overspill.

If riding 100 miles isn’t enough for you then you can also take part in the Single Speed Gathering happening the same weekend. There’s a party on the Friday and then an off-road ride on the Saturday that will most likely involve some pubs along the way, and one at the finish. 

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www.charliethebikemonger.com/

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.