Yorkshire True Grit is billed a one of the hardest gravel sportive in the UK, covering a 100km of Yorkshire’s toughest off-road parlours. The 2019 event was set in the quaint village of Hutton-Le-Hole. Nestled on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors, this area is renowned for steep, punchy climbs and desolate landscape. An arguably fitting location for an event billed as being particularly hard.
The main event takes place on the Saturday with the option to camp on location the evening before. We opted to head up on the Friday night and avoid the early start that would make thing even more painful. The organisers arranged a BBQ and beer tent from one of the award winning local pubs to cater the for the evening. What better preparation for a gnarly ride than beer and burgers perched atop a hay bale?
Camping in the height of summer should be a relatively stress free experience and thankfully this was the case. Despite the threat of rain all week, we were lucky to get a dry night and plenty of sleep.
The event has three distances with the longest at 100km and setting off at 8am. After a safety briefing over a bacon sandwich and coffee it was soon time to set off. The key takeaway from the briefing being that the course was particularly wet following all of the recent rain.
The start was immediately downhill and onto some nice bridleway and single-track allowing us to tick off the first few miles and settle into a sleep rhythm fairly easily. That is until a rather rude awakening. Miles 5 to 15 were probably some of the gnarliest i’ve tackled in my short lived gravel life and involved a significant amount of running and carrying through rock gardens, bogs and knee deep mud. The weather had really added a level of difficulty to this section. It certainly helped the ride live up to it’s tag line.
The first feed was 15 miles into the ride and thanks to the technical section, the field was nicely spread out as we pulled in for the first refuel of the day. Similarly to the night before, the organisers laid on a good spread, with a mixture of sweet and savoury as well as hot tea and coffee. The sausage rolls proved a particular highlight.
Thankfully after the feed station the route diverted back onto more fire track and moorland trail that was dry and fast rolling. This section across the moor top and around the valley top was stunning and quickly eased the pain from earlier in the day. the next 20 miles were very much similar as we rolled around Dalby Forest, picking off the mountain bike riders that had made better time through the technical sections earlier in the day.
We completed the big loop and headed back to the feed station in the afternoon sun, grabbing some more sausage rolls before heading back onto the rolling gravel tracks to pick off some more mountain bikes.
Around 10 miles from home we encountered one more particular technical section of boggy terrain that involved a bit more running and swearing but once clear we had a fast run into the finish. Obviously, for a tough event there has to be a sting in the tail and for True Grit this was a lovely 20% off-road climb back to the campsite. How kind of the organisers!
We got around at a speed of just over 10.5mph which I think is an indicator of just how tough the event was. Whilst at the time I cursed the toughest sections, in hindsight the balance was pretty much spot on. I just don’t like running.
Overall, a solid event and a solid effort in the legs on a technical course. I’ll admit wholeheartedly to being out of my depth but that’s part of the fun. There are no medals for this sportive; instead you get a little jar of gravel as a reminder of the ride. I’d definitely do it again and keep my fingers crossed for a drier lead up to the event next year.