Gravel Sportive – Exeter, Devon, UK
Sunday 30th August 2020 saw myself and a few mates take on the 75km Devon Grit Full route. The weather and trails were both superb and made for an epic day out around the Woodbury Common and surrounding areas between Exeter and Sidmouth.
Due to this years COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed on cycling events, this was a breath of fresh air thanks to Sportiva Events run by Mid-Devon CC member, Ben Tidsall. A socially distanced race village and sign on area plus individual start times meant it was more of a Time Trial format than a mass start, but small groups of up to 6 could set off and everyone was chip timed for easy results checking post-event.
With the start/finish at Bicton College, it was clear to see around the sign on area that Devon Grit was going to be a real coming together of MTB and Cyclocross racers desperate for something to call a ‘race’. Although it’s not a ‘race’. That said, there were some of the regions top riders mixing it up with many first timers and recent gravel converts.
For my set-up I used one of my cross bikes that has recently become a bit of an all-round gravel/explore steed. My On-One Dirty Disco shod with 33mm Challenge Fango’s that are rapidly losing the will to stay on the rims they’ve had such a hammering. Not the ideal tyres for the job and if I could have got something more plush like 40mm it would have been much nicer, but I’m skint so making do with what I have.
Fair to say after the previous 2 weekends of riding this set-up all over Dartmoor with at least 20kg of bikepacking gear, this ride felt much easier and the bike soaked up the worst that the trails could throw up. My wrists and arms weren’t mad keen about that but we got around as a group despite a few navigational mishaps with our mix of Garmin and Wahoo GPS units.
For an event that was put together during the latter part of lockdown with the anticipation of being able to actually make it happen, a huge pat on the back goes to Ben and his efficient team at Sportiva Events. It proves that you can run a really great event after all the shit COVID and the government can throw at you. Fingers crossed there’s no negative backlash and this can be the start of a truly madly gritty affair over the coming years!