Team Ribble tackle the dirty reiver

Towards the latter part of 2018 a germ of an idea crept into the thinking of a group of intrepid Ribblers. A whisper was heard in the office, the whisper of; what if we tested the new CGR range on an epic ride? You know like the Dirty Reiver? Foolishly it was decided to enter the 200km distance, a distance they would come to regret during the event and one that not all would achieve.
This would surely be the ultimate test of the new range…. and of the riders mettle.

Riders split up to complete the ride at their own pace.

What better way to test the new Ribble bikes than to go to an event that has, you guessed it: cross, gravel and road. We sent the Ribble Test Team up to the Dirty Reiver in the Scottish Borders to test out a combination of different CGR models to see how they got on in a real world test.

View the CGR AL here

The Bikes

Dirty Reiver was a stern test for these bikes and they proved that the Gravel style bike was the best choice for the event. More importantly they were more than up to the task.

The Ribble team were riding a variety of setups;

  • Ribble CGR AL with Sram Apex 1x and 650b wheels.
  • Ribble CGR AL with Sram Rival 1x and 700c wheels.
  • Ribble CGR SL Double with 700c wheels.
  • Ribble Adventure Ti with Shimano XT 1x and 650b wheels.

View the CGR SL here

Each frame is capable of taking a 45c tyre using a conventional sized wheel but can easily accommodate a massive 47c tyre when combined with the 650b wheel. Our riders opted for bigger tyres, offering that little bit more comfort over the terrain they would be tackling. All riders except one opted to run ‘tubeless’ with the hope of limiting any possibilities of puncture out on course.

Team Ribble before their test of endurance and resolve.

The team were signed up to either 130km or 200km of Kielder’s finest gravel tracks, fire roads and bumpy back roads, designed to test both the riders and their bikes on the roads less ridden.

Ride Strategy

The team planned to start together and then break out into groups according to their own pacing strategy but there is always one rider that gets just a little bit carried away and sets off full gas (Ex World Pro team rider who shall remain nameless!). No surprises that this rider also had the CGR SL. The rest sticking to the plan and getting to grips with the terrain.

The ride

Thankfully the weather was dry and so were the tracks, meaning you could afford to carry some speed along the downhill sections of the course. The bikes seemed to handle this well and the wider tyres in the frame ironed out some of the bumpier sections nicely. The disadvantage of such dry weather was that the surface was often very loose and dusty. Meaning one bad grab of the brakes and you would be skidding off down the forest. Thankfully disc brakes make it that bit easier to modulate your braking power and avoid such lock outs.

The windswept moorland can be a lonely place if you find yourself temporarily alone.

Around the course the climbs were never too steep but often lasted for several kilometres, the longest being nearly 20km in total. On these sections the significantly bigger cassettes on the 1x setups meant it was much easier to sit and spin up the climbs, saving legs for far later in the day.

All of our riders successfully attempted the hardest part of the course, the Lauf Special Stage which was placed at the end of the ride and consisted of a technical 8km timed section. This was probably the most testing part of the day and involved a long, gravel ascent followed by a boulder strewn and testing downhill. This section was a test for any bike but all of our riders negotiated it without a problem.

The writer of this blog in action, Mr James Ward!

The aftermath

At the end of the day we reported only one mechanical, and given this was a puncture for our non-tubeless rider we’re not really counting it. It’s inevitable that riding off-road will at some point lead to a puncture so it’s just bad luck really.

Finishers are awarded a cool cloth badge upon completion of their final distance.

Despite some minor grumbles at the aches and pains afterwards all the riders had a good time and didn’t feel too stiff the next day. None of the team regret the decision to take on this beast of a ride though their beaten and abused bodies may not have agreed! Some are even contemplating another SIMILAR CGR epic adventure in the not too distant future.

200km off -road undoubtedly results in a late finish to this bike epic.

Need help with maintaining your bike? Read our pre-ride maintenance tips here

Cyclocross vs Gravel Bikes, what’s the difference? Find out by reading our blog here

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