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  • Dirty Reiver advice for newbies (Dirty 130).
  • geomickb
    Free Member

    Is it time to start panicking yet?

    Any training advice? I’m planning to do loads of zone 2 on Zwift and weekly long rides, gradually increasing the distance.

    I’m running 650 WTB Senderos tubeless (47mm), will they be OK?

    My mate isn’t tubeless and is running something quite a bit skinner. Will he die?

    What is the terrain like? I’m expecting forestry trails? Not expecting it to be mega hilly?



    Full Member

    Not expecting it to be mega hilly?

    The term I’d use is “unrelenting”. It isn’t mega hilly but you come round every corner and see the trail going upwards yet again. It’s lots of small undulations rather than big mountain climbs but they’re unrelenting and everywhere.

    6400ft / 1950m when I did the 130 in 2016.

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    Yeah, there’s no massive hill, but there’s nothing at all flat, 10 minutes climbing, 1 minute descending, then another climb, rinse and repeat for 10 hours for me doing the 200 😐

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    Be prepared for fluctuations in the weather!  From frost to warm and sunny  and everything in between including snow and sleet!
    Survived unscathed on 2 × 200kms on 35mm with tubes just fine.

    Wish I had entered now!

    Just regular training and the odd longer day on gravel would be my advice.

    Free Member

    Adding onto the stuff here:

    – I did it in 2019 so route might have changed, but I rode it with tubed 38mm gravelkings (which I don’t really rate tbh) and was generally fine apart from one hairy moment*. If I was doing it now I would probably want 40+ just for comfort, you see some people on XC MTBs with 2.25s but that’s really not necessary.

    – *Be aware of the central part of the roads – where the gravel is smooth and fast and grippy on either side, the gravel can pile up in the middle strip and be pretty loose so take care especially on fast descents if crossing over to overtake. In places I remember it being more like 2 lines of parallel singletrack with big loose stuff in the middle.

    – The food stations are (at least were) great, if they’re still doing it and you are not doing a full-on race pace then grab some of the cheesy potatoes at the third one. Or actually they might not take you to that on the 130km route.

    – Bring at least 2 tubes and a windproof if you can fit it in somewhere. It gets cold and windy af up on those hills and would be grim to change a tube.

    – The climbing is relentless and kinda knackering after a hundred km so take a bunch of food – it is a really well marshalled and signed route with a lot of people around but still not the kinda place you want to bonk.

    – There are usually a bunch of folk with denim shorts and T-shirts absolutely shredding it on fixies too

    Full Member

    I did it last year for the first time.
    I am not very fit & was quite worried that it would kill me. I did a reasonable amount of training in the run up to it & it was perfectly fine. Got round in about 6.5 hours including stopping time.
    Terrain is hilly forest trails. Nothing technical. There were a couple of muddy woodland sections last year (very short) that were a bit slippy & there was a LOT of complaining from people around. Quite funny.
    Go at your own pace. Don’t get dragged around by the enthusiasm at the start.

    Training-wise I did mainly long distance steady rides – I think the longest I did was 90km. Did them all at a comfortable pace & got used to eating & drinking plenty & regularly. I started training beginning of January.

    Kit-wise I took all of the required kit. Weather was cold-ish & wet. I saw a lot of pared back kit choices & it didn’t look like much fun. I ended up with a frame bag with tools & spare jacket, first aid kit etc. and a handlebar bag for food, phone etc.
    I also used one of those teeny camelbaks (Rogue?) for drink with a 2 litre bladder. This was just right for me & got me to the second feed stop before I had to top up. Just had to do a quick splash & dash, then get going again. No issue with getting a bottle back in a cage, or wiping mud spray from the spout.

    Bike-wise – tyres were set-up tubeless. 45mm Goodyear somethings – whatever was fitted to my Camino when I bought it. 35-ish PSI. Might have been 40. Not had the bike long and first gravel bike so went cautious on pressures.
    You could probably go narrower if you want to take it easy on the descents, but I wouldn’t have wanted to. Loads of people fixing punctures all day – it would have really cheesed me off, to be dealing with that.
    I found the descents quite frustrating as I kept catching people who were taking it mega-cautious. But, there was no way I wanted to stray onto the gravel mound in the middle of the trail.

    Climbs were plentiful, but nothing too bad. I think they have to all be below a certain gradient for the forestry equipment. So, they can be a bit of a slog, but nothing too bad. And that’s coming from someone who lives on the edge of the fens & can be lucky to find 100m of climbing in a 50km ride. I used the standard gearing on my Camino – 40t front with 11-42 on the rear.
    Just go steady & you’ll get round no problem. Keep eating. Keep drinking.

    Good atmosphere on the ride with some friendly conversations. But, I found the scenery & terrain a bit repetitive by the end. Probably not helped by the dull grey day we ended up with.

    Last minute, I put my old Crud guards on my bike front & rear. That was a great decision, given the amount of spray & mess. If doing again, I’d get a Win Wing for the rear end.
    Make sure your bike is running well. Amazed to see so many people with mechanicals ruining their day.
    Stuff like cranks falling off, pedals falling off cranks, rear mechs completely wrapped around the back of the bike, snapped chains. Punctures. Click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click gear shifts.
    Take a small bottle of your usual lube and use it.

    The pub at the bottom of the hill up the castle does decent food, but gets pretty busy.

    Have fun & enjoy it. Don’t stress. People build it up to be a tough event. I was quite worried how I would manage. And managed fine.
    Finally. Don’t leave your glasses on the large rocks, on the corner in the woods overlooking the lake near the end, while taking a picture 😁

    Full Member

    My mate isn’t tubeless and is running something quite a bit skinner. Will he die?

    Loads of people on 35s and stuff. It’s almost exclusively forestry tracks now (the first couple of years had some brutal sections but it got tamer each year). However, I’ve punctured every single time on the gravel, even with tubeless. I swear there’s razor blades in those stones. Tubeless definitely recommended.

    It always feels way hillier than you think it should be. There’s a decent amount of climbing and you feel it.

    Aside from that, and the weather, it’s pretty straight forward. It’s an enjoyable ride.

    Free Member

    First year I did it on 35mm CX tyres. It was manageable. Now no 42mm which is fine. Tubeless, tough tyres. The gravel is more like hardcore, rough and sharp. It’s all been put there as forest road rather than geology.

    As others have said it is not hilly but never flat. Even the bit around the reservoir where it is smoother and flatter is twisty enough that there aren’t many easy miles.

    Check the weather locally. Keep an eye on the Facebook group. Kielder is always worse than the forecast. So prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It might snow or you might get sunburn. Best weather report will be at the finish!

    Make sure your bike works well. It’s tough on bikes and anything that’s a bit off at the start will probably be broken before the end. But that goes for any big day out.

    Otherwise it’s just a day out on the bike. Pace yourself. Fuel. Try and get with a group and be social to pass the time.

    3rd one for me. Hoping to get close to 8hours unless it is very wet like last year (9h20) or very windy like the year before (8h30).

    Full Member

    I’ve done it a couple of times now. 6h30 first year, sub 6hr second year.

    Some great advice here already. Be realistic about your gearing. I wasn’t on the first year and my legs really suffered with the relentless climbs.

    The rain and grime last year sucked. Take a spare pair of gloves if the forecast looks rubbish. First stop can be really busy so if you’re looking for a fast time, aim to push on to the second. Feed stops are good and well catered for.

    Win Wing mudguard is a good shout.

    If your aim is to complete it, just kick back and relax and enjoy the day out. It’s a great atmosphere.

    I was on Pirelli Cinturato M (700 x 45 – tubeless) last year and they were perfect.

    Carry general spares to be self sufficient. It can be a long wait for mechanical support.

    I’m doing it again this year along with a big group from the gravel club. Most are camping at Kielder. Feel free to drop me a message if you’re camping and want to say hi.

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    It’s a great event – I cant really add anything to the above other than to say take it easy and enjoy it, ride within yourself and eat/drink lots. My mate was v  unfit but we got round ok

    I thought we were going well until I realised that some 200ers had actually finished ahead of us – there are some awesome athletes in there!

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    I have entered the 200k.

    My training consists of a 46k daily commute 4 or 5 days a week, then a longer ride of 80 to 120ks every 2nd weekend.

    I hope this is enough to get me through..

    Full Member

    Make sure your water bottles and any lights are firmly attached – there were loads lost all over the place!

    Put your food somewhere it’s really easy to get to quickly – lots of the terrain is rough enough that riding one handed feels sketchy, and you don’t want to have to stop to unwrap something (you’ll just end up not eating enough and finding it really hard going).

    Full Member

    This has caught my eye, so just joined the waiting list.

    Hope my “medical conditions” don’t exclude me. Was thinking of not mentioning but decided to be honest. I’ll not mention in future if it’s a problem!

    Best get training in the chance that I get a place 🙂

    Full Member

    Its a lot tamer than it used to be, so its just a case of pace yourself and enjoy a fluffy day out. Most folks are pretty chilled out, so you can have a good old commiserate whilst gurning up a long climb.  The climbs are fine, but a couple of times, there have been headwinds that made it a bit more “interesting”

    take some popper food as well as energy stuff gets dull after a few hours and make sure there is something savoury in your snacks

    The winning foods for me over the years of doing it have been Natural fruit company jelly dinosaurs, Samosa and mango chutney sausage rolls, and a hipflask with a various boozey things mixed with caffeine/energy powders (spiced mead and a good single malt always make  great little celebratory nip for each climb completed)

    Don’t get disheartened if/when folks on fixies and singlespeeds boot past you, you can laugh at them later when they are crying in a ditch with massive thigh cramps. (on the biggest year for Fixie and singlespeeders, I think there about 10 us)

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    Took photos last year and had a couple of mates doing the middle and longer length routes. You can tell the difference from when/where the photos were taken.

    It probably started raining at least a few days before the race and eased off the night before.  Around 30-50 mins after the first riders started off it started to rain again.  Temp was cool.

    Huge mix of bikes, mainly gravel, some hardtail and a number of hand cycles. I spotted one or two single speed hardballs as well.   Most of the route is on forest track but some of the routes cross muddy areas as well.

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    How strict are the with the mandatory kit?

    Full Member


    How strict are the with the mandatory kit?

    They don’t check it.
    It is pretty remote in places though, so it is probably sensible to take most of it with you.
    Given some of the lightweight packing options on a lot of bikes I saw, quite a few don’t bother.

    Free Member

    How is everyones training going?

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    Any predictions on the weather this year?

    Full Member

    Given how wet it has been everywhere, your have to be brave to get against it being wet!

    Hopefully it’ll be dry though

    Free Member

    Sorry to be the one to ask but how many PSI? I’m on 47mm 650b and I’m honestly thinking of shoving 60psi in. It looks pretty smooth.

    Full Member

    I honestly can’t remember what width my tyres are – 45 I think and they are 700c.

    I think I was worried about puncturing and ended up at 40psi. I probably could have done with a bit less and still been fine.

    It’s not exactly rough in MTB terms, but given the bike is presumably rigid and you’ll be in the saddle for 6hrs+, you’ll probably appreciate a bit of tyre squish to reduce the buzz.

    60psi sounds like a lot, but go with what you are comfortable with.

    Full Member

    I will be on 45x700c and thinking 60psi (at a shade over 90kg). The mandatory kit looks pretty sensible so I’ll have it on board just in case.

    Hoping my patchy training gets me round the 200- a hilly century on Easter Monday and a week of XC skiing isn’t perfect prep!

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