The Dorset Gravel Dash 100 is as the name implies is a 100 mile bike race reliability trial over some extremely mixed terrain in the hilly seaside county of Dorset!

It is the brain child of Charlie the Bikemonger, Swanage’s premier independent cycle shop, and ever since its inseption a couple of years ago I have had it on my list of rides to do. Infact it is the only “organised” ride on that list, which initself tells you everything you need to know.

In case you are still in any doubt though the guiding rule for the ride is litrally “don’t be a dick!”

As diverse as the surfaces we rode over were, the bikes used were if anything even more eclectic. The 4 of us were holding fast to the ethos of run what you brung, including a fixed gear On-One Pompino CX bike still set up with road gearing of 48×18, a Surly Pugsley fat bike, my Surly Troll still in touring mode from our last trip and an All City Mr Pink road bike with 33’s squeezed in.


Safe to say some of us fared better than others!


The field was of a good size and had attracted a likeminded group of adventure seeking riders. Many of whom had cycled fully loaded down to Swanage the day before, camped over night, before heading to the Red Lion Pub for breakfast in advance of the start.


The first climb out off town was brutal and saw all the single speed riders walking. This had the effect of thining out the field and by the time we decended a super steep section a while later Tony and his fixed gear followed a group of other riders who took a wrong turn. Living up to the rides moto of “Lost in Dorset”. From where we were waiting we could see them all disappear in the opposite direction and opted to continue on and hopefully catch up with him later.


It wasn’t until the sketchy single track loop in Puddle Town forest that we bumped into him again. However, it was exactly at this time we lost Jez! Without the route and unable to stick with any groups due to his road bikes ability off road he had no option, but to make his way back to the finish on tarmac. Still, atleast he got a proper lunch and didn’t have to survive on an entier box of Cliff bars and a few bananas for the day!


When the marketing arm of the mainstream bike industry refers to bikes as ‘gravel grinders’ be assured they are thinking of wide open roads in the American mid west, not the pedal deep mud, single track and flooded bridelways of Dorset!

We spent the rest of the day passing and being passed by a host of interesting charactors, before Tony’s rear tyre gave up in spectacular fashion while riding with a 20+ strong peloton with only 20km or so to go.

After duct taping the inside of the tyer back together we made it as far as Old Harry Rocks before it went again. Not a bad spot to get a mechanical and we took the opportunity to enjoy the view as the sun started to set, knowing there was only one last hill before the run down into the finish.


Pro tip: if it can’t be fixed with duct tape your fucked!

On the way down we passed a fellow rider who had taken a hard fall within site of the town and was waiting with a few others for the ambulance team to arrive. We all wish him well and hope he makes a full and speedy recovery!


All in all this is a fantastic event put on by a passionate team of local riders giving us the opportunity to ride some of the best trails in Dorset, if only for a day!

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