Panaracer Dirty Reiver Ride Guide

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The Panaracer Dirty Reiver


Since the very first edition of the event in 2016, the Dirty Reiver has set the standard for Gravel Riding in the UK. Set in the extensive borderlands around Kielder, Wark and Newcastleton Forests, the route takes you through some of the wildest and most remote regions in the UK.

The uniqueness of the area allows for one long continuous gravel journey, free from mobile phone signal and urban noise, and gives riders a real sense of adventure.

The terrain itself is all hard-packed forest access trackswhat we call ‘hero gravel’ - fast rolling with good smooth lines. Perfect for a long day out.

With all pre- and post-race needs catered for in the event village at Kielder Castle, including food, camping, showers and a brand expo village, this is undoubtedly ‘the gravel event’ to ride each Spring.


Connecting riders to the ground below and the adventure ahead, Panaracer has been at the forefront of the gravel movement since its inception. As a tyre manufacturer, we quickly noticed a growing trend amongst off-road cyclists who didn’t identify themselves by the core genres of the sport, and instead, were doing something new and exciting.

Focussed on camaraderie, endurance and community, a new category emerged that removed riders from increasingly busy roads, heavy mountain bikes and a short cyclocross season. We’re very proud to be among the first companies to see gravel as a discipline, develop cutting edge products for, and to foster, the spirit of fun that continues to grow to this day.

This sentiment is echoed to its fullest by the Dirty Reiver, the UK’s premier gravel event and a natural partnership for Panaracer. Also, with this being the 10th anniversary of the iconic Gravel King we are pleased to launch a whole new range of tyres at the event in 2024.

See you there!


Gravel’s meteoric rise over the past years has led to a whole new side to the sport of cycling. There are now events all over the world, international and regional series and a growing number of races. 2022 saw the first UCI Gravel World Championship and the sports first ‘official’ jersey awards. The 2024 event takes place in Flanders in October - see article n the Visit Flanders page..

The gravel scene owes its roots to the very first events to come out of America. Dirty Kanza, as it was known then (now Unbound Gravel), helped pave the way with its 200 mile ride through the flint hills and sometimes treacherous clay tracks. The emphasis was on rider self-reliance, having a great day’s adventure on the bike and pedalling distances previously reserved for road rides.

The movement grew, people loved the format and bike development started with the bigger manufacturers joining the party. Riders enjoyed the social side and the fact that you could line up next to many ex-professional riders and complete the same route.

Over the past years bike technology has embraced the sport, leading to many new developments. Turning up to ride a gravel event on a hardtail MTB or cross bike is no longer the norm as gravel bikes have become more mainstream.

Modern bikes now have frames that will accept wide (40mm+) 700c tyres, rims have changed to accommodate wider tyres, and gear ranges are wider to cope with the varied terrain with many now having a single front chainring.


Kielder is a remote area of forest and moorland situated between the English and Scottish Borders. There are no shops, other than a small campsite store, so please make sure you bring everything you need for the weekend.

The venue will have catering available throughout with an onsite cafe, event caterer and a bar. Within a short drive are a couple of lakeside restaurants and pubs.

There is a self-service petrol station. The nearest convenience stores are at Newcastleton (40 mins drive), Bellingham (30 mins drive) and Hawick (45 mins drive) - depending on which way you arrive you will pass through one of these centres.


This is the big one!

At 200km it certainly is a challenging day out! The event takes its roots from the Gravel Grinder format popular in the US and now across Europe.

The route is one single lap using the extensive mixed gravel roads network around Kielder Water and Wark Forest. The tracks are predominantly fast going with firm surfaces, but be prepare for all types of gravel.

Be under no illusion: this is a tough day out on the bike and a challenge for the hardiest of rider, with 95% of the route off-road it is a full day of gravel riding.


The Dirty Reiver’s little sibling is 130km long. This is still a challenging distance and is often a stepping stone for those aspiring to the full distance event - or it can be a step down for those not feeling up to the full 200km!

If you are looking for a day in the saddle but are still testing your Gravel legs for the first time, this is the one for you: a single loop on Kielder Forest’s varied gravel roads with a stunning finish along the lake shore.


A great first time gravel challenge and a chance to experience the Dirty Reiver atmosphere. The route follows large sections of the longer route. This 65km loop includes one feed station and should be easily within range of modern e-bike batteries: all the fun of the Reiver - assisted!


In the Castle grounds, next to the sign-on and event start is our Sponsor Expo - a showcase of the latest gravel products and a chance to see what is new.

All the latest Tyre Tech, including the new X1, will be on display at the Panaracer stand- check out the new Gravel King range.

Lauf will have a full range of their Seigla bikes on show with the legendary True Grit fork and SRAM will be showing the XPLR AXS range of components.

Wahoo will be offering the chance to demo their range of gpx units and OTE will be on hand to give last minute nutrition advice to keep you fuelled for the ride.

Apparel partner Le Col will have a limited selection of Dirty Reiver custom apparel alongside a display of their cycle specific wear.

All our sponsors bring something unique to the event - make sure that you allow time to wander around and chat. Most of them have goody bag for you!


Located in the grounds of the iconic Kielder Castle alongside the catering, bar and sponsor expo.

Sign-on can be quite busy at times, especially early on the Saturday morning, so allow plenty of time for this - and for visiting the sponsor village.

Opening times:

Friday -10:00-22:00hrs

Saturday - 06:00-07:15hrs


A full range of facilities at the Event Centre cater for a wide range of dietary requirements.

Friday will be pizza, pasta, and a more general menu from The Street Diner and from Podium Catering - both situated at the Castle.

Opening times:

Friday -10:00-22:30hrs

Saturday breakfasts will be available early and for those riding the event there is a meal included in the entry. This is available from the Podium Catering tent, again with a range of diets catered for.

Saturday - 06:00-07:30hrs/12:00-23:00hrs

Northumberland Coffee will be on-site through out the weekend serving quality barista coffee and bakes from their Landcover Defender.


Please note that accommodation in the area gets booked well in advance of the event!

Full details are available on the event website: with regular updates in the event newsletters.

Forestry England will provide some overflow camping and space for campervans - all on a first come basis when you turn up. Vans are charged at £12 per night payable at the ticket machine. Camping is £6 per person.

Full map of locations in the Final Rider Briefing, available in the final 3 weeks leading up to the event.


We often get asked what type of bike is best suited to riding the Dirty Reiver. Whilst most off-road machines are capable of completing the course, some bikes are definitely more suited than others - bearing in mind the time cut-offs in place throughout the day. In the more recent editions of the event there has been a huge move towards gravel-specific bikes. These bikes can handle the range of off-road terrain, yet offer a good turn of speed and comfort throughout the day.

Lauf have long been associated with the Dirty Reiver. Based in Iceland, Lauf are known as gravel experts, and this year they will be brining their gravel specific bike, the Seigla

It sports a number of innovations addressing some of the issues that arise when designing a fully capable off-road machine that is comfortable, fast and can handle wide range single chainring gearing. Excellent tyre clearance, comfort front and back, a short chain stay and long position all make this the ideal gravel cruiser. But don’t take our word for it, pop along to the stand and chat to the Lauf Team yourself!


Our event village is open from 10am on the Friday with our brands offering a wide range of social ideas and activities to help shake the long journey out of the legs.

All rides are social with a chance to meet brand ambassadors, chat gravel, make new friends and preview some sections of the course. Its a great way to check your bike, check your gears and tyres after the journey to Kielder.

All day - POC ‘Brandonee’ - use the POC Brandonee card to find the clue in the Forest and win some prizes.

All day - SRAM Scavenge Hunt - clues around the event centre with cool SRAM goodies up for grabs.

3pm - SRAM Women’s ride - meet at the SRAM tent. Sign up info to follow in the newsletters.

5pm - Le Col & VISITFLANDERS HQ ride with Johan Museeuw (mixed) + a Women’s Only ride leaving at the same time.

Further rides to be confirmed and final detailed schedule in the April Newsletter.

The event start on the Saturday will be from inside the Castle grounds between 07:45and 08:15 approx. Please allow plenty of time to get parked, unpacked and ready to ride. If you are signing on as well then please note the sign-on opening

We will operate a neutralised, rolling start in waves to allow riders time to settle into the ride. The official timing does not start until you are approx 3km in and entering

Riders wishing to be in the front group should make themselves available at the start so we can give you instruction.

For those wanting a more leisurely start we recommend waiting for 15-20mins as the bulk of riders will have left by then.

The start closes promptly at 08:30. After this time we are unable to allow any other

Please note that the event is not a race and riders should proceed with caution along the first few km on public roads.


No matter what the conditions are on the day, the Dirty Reiver course tends to be hard-packed and fast rolling. The trails are forest access roads and offer a variety of double track surfaces.

When choosing a tyre look for something that rolls quickly, holds its line when taking a corner and gives some puncture protection, just in case!

New for 2024 is the Panaracer Gravel King X1 - a completely new tyre, perfectly matched to the Kielder Forest gravel trails. Easy to mount, lightweight, with a completely new tread design and built in ‘Tuff-Tex’ puncture protection. This is now our ‘go to’ tyre for the route.

If you are looking for something that still rolls fast but is less ‘race’ orientated then the standard Gravel King SK stands out. Again this has been fully updated with new compounds, new lay-up and a bead which seats easily onto the newer, wider, hookless rims.

For those looking for something that covers a wider range of cycling terrains, or for the loaded ‘adventure’ bike, there is a range of plus tyres with added durability built in without any compromise on performance.

For a detailed review of the new Gravel King range and an insight into the development behind them check out Episode 2 of the Panaracer Dirty Reiver Diaries podcast.


One final consideration is whether to run tubeless ie. without any inner tubes.

The advantages are numerous, but reduced weight, improved rolling resistance and less chance of pinch fl

It also means you can run a lower pressure along with all the bene

The majority of tyres are tubeless-ready these days, and with a good rim you can get a reliable seal. Again, experiment with getting your system set up well in advance of the event as it often takes a couple of rides to settle in. Remember though, even with tubeless you will still need inner tubes as spares!

Check out the


Zipp’s tubeless hookless wheel technology is vital to the evolution of making you go faster. If you’re new to this concept, this video is for you. We explain everything. How does the tire stay on the rim? What is the max tire pressure? How does hookless reduce energy loss from road or trail vibration? We also explain how hookless (also called tubeless straight-side) rim technology creates a seamless transition between the tire and the rim for improved aerodynamics.

Hookless technology and Making You Faster. Want to learn more? Click


It may seem obvious these days that we all wear a helmet, in fact it is unusual to see someone without one.

Getting the right helmet is crucial. After all, for the Dirty Reiver, you may be wearing it for quite some time!

What better partner than innovating Swedish helmet and glasses company POC to help ‘Keep it Safe’ whilst on the trails.

Their ‘seamless fit’ brings together head and eye protection as one discrete system. No more catching your glasses on the helmet!

Packed with features and a full range of colours there is a helmet to suit everyone, even if you are choosy about colour coordination!

Their glasses range boasts Carl Zeiss lenses as well as an interchangeable system so that you can match your level of visibility to the light conditions.

Pay them a visit at the Dirty Reiver Expo to see the new gravel/adventure specific Omni Ultra MIPS


"Gravel” can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s adding in some stretches of bridleways, forest tracks or fire roads to bring more variety to a road ride. For others, it’s about longer stretches of rough trails that create those big smiles for miles. And let’s not forget those who love to clatter downhill on rugged, technical trails (that might be easier, but less fun, on a mountain bike).Whatever you regard as the ‘ultimate gravel experience’, it’s all great fun.

SRAM strives to make sure you have the right products available for every eventuality, especially when it comes to selecting the right gearing. Rest assured; we’ve got you covered.

We created an overview of the three most common gearing setups

Eagle drivetrain delivers for the most adventurous riding, our 1x SRAM XPLR drivetrain is a super versatile gravel and allaround riding setup, and SRAM drivetrain is there for all your road riding needs, and even a bit beyond. So no matter how or where you ride, there is a SRAM gearing option for you.

Adventure 1x Eagle

We understand that sometimes riders want to take gravel bikes to places where, perhaps, they weren’t (primarily) designed to go, and push things towards the extremes. So if you’re loading down your bike with equipment, or clawing your way up long, loose and rocky climbs, or trying to save your legs as you race across a continent, a drop bar bike with the absolute maximum gear range available is the ticket.

Enter the adventure build (sometimes called the ‘Mullet’): an Eagle AXS mtb rear derailleur and cassette paired to road AXS shift/brake levers and road chainset. This creates the potential for a 10-50 or 10-52 cassette paired with a 38-50T chainring. That’s a huge range of options, in both mechanical and wireless electronic options, that should never leave you short, even on your most ‘far out’ adventures.

All-Around 1x XPLR

Where versatility is the name of the game for a gravel bike, a wireless electronic or mechanical shifting XPLR drivetrain, with a 10-44 or 11-44 cassette is the sweet spot. The 10-44 cassette tightens jumps between the gears, especially where it’s most noticeable at the lower (smaller) end of the cassette, to give you the exact ratio you want when you're pedalling hard. But the whopping 440% range guarantees you have the gears you need no matter how tough the day gets. The XPLR rear derailleur provides ultimate chain management too, with its built-in clutch and wide-narrow tooth profiles on the pulley wheels combining to keep your chain on no matter how much trail chatter you run over.

All-Road 2x

We’re lucky to be living in a time with so many choices for bikes that are fast and fun on pavement, while still plenty capable on technical gravel trails. A bike that can handle a huge range of activities needs an equally versatile drivetrain, and a 2x eTap AXS build with a 46-33T or 43-30T chainring combo mated to a 10-36 or 10-33 cassette, absolutely covers it all. With these gearing combos you can mix it up on the spiciest of road rides and still spin up steep dirt climbs.

For more on how our 2x drivetrains compare to traditional gearing, experience our story on X-Range gearing.

To find your perfect match, you can browse complete bikes with SRAM AXS in our bike finder

Gearing choices: Meet the Range video here


Though the course is fully marked, many people like to have the course GPX pre-loaded onto their head unit before the event day.

It is also worth noting that these indispensable devices give much more than turn-by-turn navigation and also offer an essential source of information during the ride.

Data fields showing average speed, distance to the next feed, amount of climbing, etc., can all help a rider to pace themselves and know what lies ahead.

Here are a few features that the guys at Wahoo have loaded onto their screens.



Cyclists love suffering, but we also like to know how much and for how long. The SUMMIT climbing feature on the ELEMNT GPS computers has a colorcoordinated profile, vert, and distance to the top. So you'll be prepared for what's ahead.


With customisable data fields and Perfect View zoom buttons, you always have the information you need most at a glance.


ELEMNT bike computers are loaded with navigation features like on-board navigation, Route To Start, and Back On Track. And with the accuracy you depend on to stay on course.


Wahoo will be at Kielder with a selection of demo ELEMNT BOLT and ROAM bike computers which you can borrow free of charge!

The head units will have all three Dirty Reiver routes pre-loaded for you to follow along with whichever distance you're taking on. Wahoo!

Wahoo ELEMNT GPS bike computers: SIMPLY POWERFUL

Wahoo ELEMNT cycling computers offer powerful features to track your performance, navigate new routes and stay connected before, during and after your rides. Smart navigation features provide the freedom to explore with confidence.


Wahoo offer a comprehensive training plan for all three Dirty Reiver distances using their platform.

Entrants get a free introductory subscription to the program and a chance to combine in and outdoor workouts to get in the best shape for the big day. More details via the event newsletters. Whatever your training programme the important thing to recognise is that the Dirty Reiver is a tough challenge.

The very nature of these events means that most of your training should focus on building endurance. Plan in several long rides of 6/7hrs plus. Intersperse these with much shorter, more focused efforts, quicker than the pace you are likely to maintain in the event.

Your broad aim is to build your ability to stay in the saddle, maintaining a steady pace for long periods, whilst also developing the capacity to deal with the short, sharp hills that will ask a little more of you.

Build up to the Event:

Aim to cut down on the big miles in the run-up to the event. Long days in the saddle are tiring and should be banked by 2 weeks to go.

The final weekend could be a mid-distance leg loosener, but try and err on the side of recovery.

In the final couple of weeks keep the mileage down, but stick with those higher intensity rides to keep the legs spinning over. The should focus on recovery.

When you think of Flanders, Belgium, you may immediately think of the Tour of Flanders, or other races in the Spring Classics, and the many great cyclists the region has produced. Flanders is home to some of the best bergs, cobbles and gravel routes to explore. With over 7,500 miles of bike routes, whether you want to get your adrenaline pumping on a steep incline, or take a more leisurely ride, Flanders offers something for everyone.

Retired Belgian professional cyclist, Johan Museeuw, the Lion of Flanders, shares why he loves cycling in the region and advice for those wanting to try it for themselves…

Q: What do you love most about cycling?

For me, cycling helps to clear your mind, whether I am riding alone or with a group of people. Getting out in the fresh air allows you to explore nature in the surrounding landscape, it is really refreshing! Then once you get back home, you feel like a new person.

Q: Why is Flanders so popular for cycling?

What is not to love about Flanders? First and foremost, it is where our true Flandriens are made, the first being Briek Schotte who had big wins throughout his long and impressive career. Every generation since has produced yet more incredible champions. Not only that, but we also have the most beautiful cycling routes. There are hills and cobblestones which offer something for everyone, as well as a challenge for many! Finally, and most importantly, we have the Tour of Flanders, where everyone falls in love with the sport a little bit more.

Q: What advice would you give to cyclists visiting the region?

You need a good level of base fitness before you take on the more ambitious climbs. However, Flanders has routes that offer something for all abilities, whether you’re a leisure cyclist or a more experienced biker. Think about your bike and make sure it is able to take on the varied terrain.

The Lion of Flanders © Le Col


1 – The Kwaremont

The Oude Kwaremont is the longest climb in Flanders at 2,200 metres long and a 92metre climb. Whilst it averages a 4% gradient, the middle of the climb hits the maximum 11.6% - quite a challenge over cobbles. If you think once is tough, during the Tour of Flanders, the riders embark on this climb three times!

2 – The Muur van Geraardsbergen

The Muur van Geraardsbergen takes you to the top of the 110-metre-high summit of the Oudenberg. The climb is 910 metres long and has an average and maximum incline on 9% and 20% respectively. At the top of the climb, make sure to visit the beautiful neobaroque church.

3 – The Paterberg

Already known as a legendary climb in Flanders, the Paterberg has a maximum gradient of 20.33% and an average of 12% making it one of the steepest climbs in the region. The descent features a sharp right-hand corner which requires care and usually claims a victim each year in the Tour of Flanders.

Take on the Flandrien Challenge

Have you got what it takes to become a true Flandrien? The Flandrien challenge is the ultimate cycling experience. Complete the 59 iconic berg and cobble segments on STRAVA in 72 hours and you can have your own personalised stone on the wall of fame in Tour of Flanders Centre in Oudenaarde.

UCI World Championships

In October 2024, the UCI Gravel World Championships will be taking place is Flanders. Starting from Halle (just outside Brussels) the course will run through Hallerbos, the Sonian and Meerdaal Forest (or Brabantse Wouden National Park) before finishing in Leuven. An unforgettable weekend which will see riders of all ages race for the rainbow jersey.

Find out more about the region and find a route at:

Johan Museeuw will be joining the team at VISITFLANDERS at the Dirty Revier this year. He will also be taking part in a prologue ride on the Friday. Come and join us to meet the ‘Lion of Flanders’ himself.

Gravel / Cycling in Limburg © Dirty Dropbars
Oude Kwaremont © Kramon


Long days in the saddle require you to be smart with your kit choices. Combining layers that allow you to be flexible whilst also prioritising comfort and breathability is key, especially when faced with the chance of changeable weather.

Choosing a warm, wicking base layer that protects the core, paired with a long or short sleeve jersey, is your foundation. A lightweight packable gilet will offer an extra layer of warmth and weather protection without adding too much bulk. A fully waterproof jacket will be your shield for any unexpected downpour.

Give yourself the flexibility to add warmth and protection when it’s needed with a pair of lightweight gloves, arm warmers and a snood.

Helmet - POC offer a good range and with glasses to match, protect you eyes from the gravel and the wind

Emergency Whistle - a cheap plastic one will do

Survival Blanket - cheap and light so no excuse!

Waterproof Jacket - light , breathable and waterproof. Get one that does all three with Le Col’s Sport Rain or Pro Rain Jackets

Warm Hat/Buff - plenty to choose from here

Spare Base Layer - Merino or synthetic, take your pick

Spare Inner Tubes - spares available at Feed Stations!

Tyre Levers - lots to choose from

Pump - we choose an alloy body for better pressures

Multitool - get the right sizes for your bike! Unior do some neat combo’s

Front Light + Rear LED - 200 lumens for 2hrs (not required for the 65km distance)

Mobile Phone - fully charged and in a protective case

Food for duration of the event

Ability to carry 1.5l of water: 2 bottles/hydration pack (Camelback Podium Bottle or Chase Vest)

Basic First Aid to cover any grazes and help stop bleeding


For an event like The Dirty Reiver there is no need to carry too much! However, striking the all-important balance between ‘what you need’ versus ‘the extra weight’ can be difficult.

The compulsory kit list covers most things we deem necessary and is the minimum requirement for the event. Those who are not aiming for a fast time could also add in a warm layer as back-up for feed stops and a later finish.

A combination of jersey pockets, a top tube bag and a small saddle bag should be sufficient. Keep food, and any items you want to access quickly, behind the stem, keep spare clothing/ spares in the jersey, and put any non-essentials (additional base layer, jacket and First Aid) in the saddle bag.

Alternatively, a cycle-specific hydration vest is great way to combine everything in one place. With easy to reach chest pockets for holding food/snacks and a convenient drinking tubeeating and drinking on the trail should be a cinch!

CamelBak will be on hand, at the event, keeping you hydrated and also showcasing their new Podium Bike Bottle range. Made from premium steel and ultra-lightweight titanium, the newest additions to the Podium series are built for speed.

Some general guidelines that we have found useful:

Start the day with a familiar breakfast that you know works, at least 2hrs before the event start. Keep small snacks handy in case you feel hungry before registration or on the start line.

During the event itself make sure that you have a nutrition plan and stick to it. Try the plan before the event on a long training ride. The food you may want after 8hrs differs from what you want in the first 2hrs - carry a range of tastes.

Drink small amounts every 10-15mins and eat something every 30mins. Over the course of the day your body and digestion gets tired. Try and consume ‘real’ food in the first half of the event. In the latter half taking those fast release carbs will take the pressure of your stomach.

Do not assume that a feed station will have everything you need. Keep eating and drinking right up to the feed station, this will help minimise the time you are there and make sure you do not have a gap in your energy levels.

Be sure to check out our official nutrition partner OTE Sports Dirty Reiver Fuelling Guide and get a pack of nutrition to sample and order before the event. Full range on their website.

Need more help? Head over to the OTE nutrition calculator to see exactly what they recommend for your distance and expected finish time.



Unior Bike Tools will be at the Expo demonstrating their extensive range of ‘Trail’ tools, as well as the comprehensive pro-tool packs.

Take your bike along to their mechanics for a pre-event fettle or check.

They will also be in attendance at Feed Stations around the course to keep you rolling if disaster strikes!

We will also have some mobile Unior service at marshal points.


Throughout the event (130/200km distances), there are a two cut-offs: all riders need to be aware of these. Knowing them in advanceand noting where they are - can save a lot of last minute sprints and disappointed riders!

The final Rider Brief and Rider Notice Board at the Event Centre will have the updated cut-off times based on any last minute course adjustments.

The main Cut-Off Times for 2024 will be:

34km - Chirdon Burn 10:30 (2.5hrs) for 130/200km riders

136km - Kielder Forest Drive 16:30 (8.5hrs) for 200km riders

178km - Kielder Dam 20:15 (12:15hrs)optional cut-off if riders unlikely to make the course closure

Course close at 21:30hrs


Riding a long endurance event like the Dirty Reiver will have its ups and downs, so having a few strategies in place for looking after yourself and keeping your focus can really help.

If you are riding for the first time, do not get carried away trying to keep up with the faster riders at the start - you will end up paying for this by the end! Imagine your body’s energy is like a battery. If you power it too high it is never going to last all day.

The key to successfully completing the event, irrespective of fitness, is to equal out your efforts throughout the whole distance. If you do have something left in the tank then you can up the pace on the final leg home and catch flagging riders ahead.

Working on an average speed can help, but remember this will drop on long climbs and quickly pick up again as you go over the other side. Do not focus on this all the time, but check every 10-15km so that you can get a more accurate average.

Feed stations are usually buzzing with other riders and it is tempting to stay that little bit longer, especially if it is warm. Though we want you to enjoy them, have a plan and a timescale, and do not waste more time than you need: remember, your average speed is dropping rapidly as you are there!

Riding with others is a great way to pass the miles. Taking the time to chat to someone you have never met and share some experiences all go a long way to helping cover the distance without noticing it.

Finally, try and focus on the route as a series of short sections or smaller goals. Many riders aim for feed stations whilst others aim for distant features. Breaking the ride down into manageable chunks is good for the mind and the morale.

With positive thoughts, a trail which seemed rough and unforgiving a few kilometres ago will start to fly past - and all those aches and pains will be forgotten.


In the lead up to the event, try and reduce unnecessary stress. Check the weather forecast and have your riding kit put to one side. Make sure bottles and food are topped up.

Allow plenty of travel time (especially if you need to register) and have your base layers on - no one wants a full undress on a cold morning! Travel in warm clothes and keep them on until you are ready to roll.

Two ‘pre-ride’ bags are useful for keeping everything to hand. One has your riding kit in, the other has your kit for on the bike/in your pockets: bottles; GPS/Mobile (charged); bag with tools; spare clothes; food, etc.

Have a plan for when you arrive and stick to it. Try and avoid social distractions. You can catch up with people if you have time once you are ready.

Event Day Pre-start Checklist:

• Unload bike - check wheels, brakes, gears

• Bottles, bags, lights and GPS unit attached

• Cycle jacket/jersey on and load pockets. Put warm clothing back on if you have time

• Make sure your drop bag has been handed in

• Shoes, helmet, gloves and glasses on

• Ready to go!


There are three Feed Stations. Please do not assume that they will have everything that you need; they are meant to top-up what you are already carrying!

Whilst we aim to cater for a range of dietary requirements, we cannot cover everything, and we cannot guarantee things will be allergen free. Our nutritional partner this year, OTE , do have a range of gluten-free energy products.

At each feed we also have Unior Neutral Service Support and Panaracer offering inner tube swaps - just ask!

Before you stop, have a plan and stick to it. Know what foods work for you and try not to waste too much time - even if the sun is shining and the music is good!

Feed 1 - 53km approx (for 130/200km)

Feed 2 - this is at 47km on the 65km course and 103km for 130/200km riders

Feed 3 - 154km for Dirty Reiver 200k riders only


For those riding the 130 and 200km distances there is the option to send a ‘drop bag’ ahead to Feed 2 at 103km.

This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on your favourite ride nutrition as we all have our own preferences when doing a long event. It is also a chance to have an extra ‘treat’ or a warm pair of gloves or get a top up of your hydration drink..

For those on the longer distances it is important to remember that our feed stations cannot stock everything and are intended as a top up for the things that you are carrying.


There are three feed stations on the route and we will aim to stock the following items at each.

Feed 1: (53km for 130/200km riders) - warm drinks, water, Redbull, bananas, traybake, fig rolls, crisps, sweet nibbles.

Feed 2: (103km for 130/200km riders and 47km for 65km riders) - warm drinks, soup/rolls, tray bakes, savoury nibbles, fig rolls, OTE nutrition, water, crisps, sweet nibbles + Rider Drop Bags.

Feed 3: (154km for 200km riders) - water, Redbull, bananas, traybake, fig rolls, crisps, sweet nibbles, savoury nibbles.

All tbc in the final rider communication.


A guide to Dirty Reiver from Le Col ambassador, Chris Hall.

“Dirty Reiver really is one of the best gravel events in the UK. I’ve taken part in it twice previously and I’m excited to come back for a third time!

On the borders of Scotland, the route takes on some of the best gravel that the UK has to offer. There are a few things that you can do to help you have the absolute best experience, whether you’re racing or enjoying the adventure.

The morning will be cold, it’s only April after all, so make sure you’re wrapped up warm at the start and have some layers on you. Personally, I like to make sure I have arm warmers or a long sleeve jersey depending on what the temperature is like. It may also be worth considering wearing something like Le Col’s Sport Thermal Cargo Bib Shorts if the temperatures are a bit chilly.

Personally, I love cargo bib shorts because of the ability to carry some extra food to have during the event. The additional pockets are great to store a few more snacks.

I recommend using the widest possible tyres I can fit on my frame. The gravel can have some quite sharp flint stones so make sure your choice of tyre has some good puncture protection or be prepared should you need to repair. Having a little pump and a dynaplug could save the event for you.

Remember to pace yourself no matter what distance you’re doing! Keep the food going in and stay hydrated: even if it’s cooler, you still need to keep drinking.

Most importantly have fun and enjoy! It’s one of the best gravel events in the UK!”


Stretch your legs out and ride with Belgian cycling icon, Johan Museeuw on the Dirty Reiver prologue rides.

Le Col and VISITFLANDERS are hosting a prologue ride with two ride options, mixed and women only. Meet for a pre-ride coffee courtesy of the guys at VISITFLANDERS from 4:15pm and meet cycling legend, Johan Museeuw, before each group heads out to ride part of the course with a 15km social leg-spinner.

The ride concludes back at Le Col and VISITFLANDERS HQ where we’ll have a free postride pint waiting for you to enjoy with the Lion of Flanders.

Rides are socially-paced and no-drop. All riders are welcome.

Let us know you’re joining �

Date: Friday 19th April

Time: 4:15pm meet for a 5pm rollout

Ride Start & Finish: Le Col & VISITFLANDERS HQ

Route: Approx 15km


We caught up with Alex MacLennan the recreation and public affairs manager for Forestry England. Alex, who has been in the north east for the last 19 years, has overseen the development of mountain bike trails at Kielder, and before that was manager of the borders forests such as Glentress in the early 2000’s.

“ It is fantastic to be in the run-up to the Dirty Reiver returning to Kielder again. It is a key signature event for the region and also happens around the time that spring usually starts to show up in rural Northumberland.

On the back of the success of the Dirty Reiver, I am pleased to share that we are on the brink of formally announcing the largest network of way-marked gravel trails in the UK, some of which form part of the Dirty Reiver event.

These new trails will offer something for everyone and will not just be for Gravel riding, but will also be welcoming for walking and horse riding. This is a game changer for Kielder Forest as it helps connect local communities within the Tyne, North Tyne, Liddlesdale and Redesdale valleys, with the added dimension of moving across the border between Scotland and England.

We hope these new trails encourage more gravel riders to not just come and enjoy the forest but also stay and explore the local area of Northumberland with so much to offer.

Everyone behind the scenes at Kielder Water & Forest Park wish all the riders and everyone supporting the Dirty Reiver a fantastic time and hope to see you all out in the forest somewhere.”

For more trail information -

A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL OUR EVENT PARTNERS WHO MAKE EVERYTHING HAPPEN! All images and content copyright Focal Events Ltd (2024) unless otherwise stated Photographers Andy Heading and Stephen Smith
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