Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Dirty Reiver 200 #1

Dirty Reiver 200

Personalised plates.

We first expressed an interest in a Salsa Powderkeg around four years ago. Prototypes came and went, we couldn't get our hands on anything small enough. There was obviously a lot going on Stateside that helped to produce the amazing bike we have just got our hands on. One Saturday two weeks ago a very large box popped out of a courier van and landed in our workshop. We got busy with the spanners and nipple wrench and had a shakedown ride on Sunday. Amazing. Felt right at home from the go and before long we were on our way to Kielder to ride 200k of gravel...

Photo: Rich
 We got to Kielder Castle late on Friday night, just in time to register before it closed for the evening. After a cosy nights sleep we woke up at 5.30 to a light dusting of snow on the ground and fluttering from the sky. Thankfully that didn't last long and we lined up at the back of the pack for rider briefing and an unhurried start to the day at just after 7am. Everyone was in chirpy spirits!
Photo: George Harris

Lately we've been pretty short on long bike rides, busy at work and bouts of sickness keeping both our mileages modest. Our plan for the day was to go super steady, have a bit of banter and get home without incident. We'd looked at the profile for the course and unsurprisingly it didn't show a lot of flat sections - rolling terrain with three big climbs. The nature of tandems meant the those climbs were taken nice and steady but once at the top we could take advantage of gravity and hit speeds of up to 46 mph on the most hardpacked of descents. The rolling stuff in between could be taken at pace so long as we got our gear selection right, all helped by the Rohloff hub of course. We've got some big 200mm rotors on the Powderkeg so stopping wasn't an issue - the brake pad eating reputation of Kielder wasn't a problem, we carried two sets of spare brake pads but there was no need. This time.

Photo: Greg May

Got wood?

Many riders, including us, were also carrying far too much food. The event catering was simply amazing. Three food stations crammed with chatty people, sandwiches, scones, energy food, bananas, tea and coffee, Jaffa cakes and more. All still available when the tail end of the field was coming through. A triumph of organisation and something other events should take note of.


We got plenty of all kinds of weather. Climbing got everyone warmed up nicely to be shortly followed by long, straight descents that were pretty damn chilly. There was a sustained period of snow and hail that was quickly forgotten once the blue skies & sun came out again. Everyone was smiling throughout, happy days.

We're hoping to return for this event next year. Nothing at all to criticize, well put together with super friendly people and a great course. Well done to Paul and all involved.

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