I joined the Ribble Factory Test Team in Kielder Forest to tackle the Dirty Reiver - a 200km gravel sportive. The idea was to put the bikes to the test and get to grips with some serious off-road riding.
Gravel bikes are all the rage at the moment so in order to keep things trendy I’ve been getting hands on with the Ribble CGR and having an attempt at riding ‘off the beaten track’. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit like Bambi on ice when it comes to leaving the tarmac but I’m steadily getting to grips with things. Over the last few months I’ve learnt a few things about gravel riding.
It’s been three years since Ribble first introduced a gravel bike to the market to satisfy the ever growing demand for ‘adventure’ bikes. Due to the popularity of the first model, Ribble decided to work on a new range of gravel bikes that were introduced to the market in autumn last year. They can be categorised into four main classes; carbon, aluminium and steel and titanium. I opted for the aluminium as my weapon of choice.
Cyclists across the UK are currently looking out from the sweaty turbo dungeons in state of utter bewilderment as a giant fireball blazes it’s way across the sky. Amidst random shouts of ‘ride on’ and ‘watts per kilo; they climb slowly up the stairs and out the door into the real world, horrified at the possibility of riding on open roads for the first time in 2019. It’s too early and the cyclists are yet to fully prepare for such scenes.
Rewind twelve months and you’ll find me cruising the Yorkshire Dales, skipping in and out of snow drifts in a blizzard with a big smile on my face. Indoor training is still a sin to me and everything I do is outside.
Fast forward to present day and I’m sat in the garage avoiding the rain having bought a smart turbo and a subscription to Zwift.
London to Paris complete, I had 24 hours to try and recover from riding for 22 hours overnight and prepare for my first few days in the Alps. Continental Europe was roasting and I was getting quite worried. Should I have spent more time riding 'loaded' before the trip? Was it really a good idea to ride to Paris before tackling the mountains? It was time to find out.
Having planned my two week trip to the Alps way back at Christmas I begun to ponder how best to get to France? I could fly to Geneva but that would require a bike box which I suspected I wouldn't be able to fit on my back for the entire trip, or I could ride to France and catch the TGV from Paris to Geneva. I'm a little bit crazy so opted to ride to Paris, and given I was riding to Paris, why not do it in 24 hours? The perfect way to arrive fresh in the mountains…
When I started planning my trip to the Alps back in January it felt like a lifetime away, but now I'm sat here at the end of May, counting down the day until I head overseas, it sudden feels like time simply skipped the spring and dropped me off right at the end of May. There are now only 22 days until I start my adventure and ride my bike overseas for the first time…
Cyclists are a fairly predictable bunch; most of us follow a familiar routine, or if you're from the south, your cycling ritual. The ritual is supposed to make the lead up to each ride as relaxing as possible so that the ride itself can be an enjoyable experience. Even on the ride most people have a fairly consistent ritual, even if they don't realise it.
I love riding my bike and love eating food; these are two of my favorite activities and take up a lot of my time. Obviously, the two things go hand in hand; the more I ride, the more I tend to eat as I burn through a lot of energy doing so many miles each day. The problem sometimes face though is eating enough to sustain all that activity.