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Dorset Gravel Dash 2024

Back for another round of gravel glory at the 2024 Dorset Gravel Dash! This was my second time taking on this fantastic event, and it definitely lived up to the hype.

The Format

Just like last year, the Dorset Gravel Dash offered the classic 50/50 format – two days of mostly off-road riding with a campsite stop in Shillingstone. This year, I felt a bit ambitious and decided to extend the route by adding an extra 23km each way from Bournemouth to Swanage. Not the smartest decision considering my current fitness level, but hey, gotta chase those Strava stats sometimes, right?


Swanage. Fresh and clean before the ride.

Day 1: Smooth Sailing (Mostly)

The first day was an absolute blast! The weather was perfect, the trails were smooth, and the vibe amongst the riders was fantastic. It was a joy to chat about bikes, routes, and share some laughs – a true testament to the amazing gravel cycling community. Knowing the route from last year definitely helped me pace myself better on this challenging distance.

One new addition this year was a river crossing with a prize for anyone brave enough to tackle it directly through the water. Let's just say the promise of chocolate and a handshake on the other side was enough motivation for me to take the plunge! The water was surprisingly refreshing, and it definitely added a unique element to the day.

Campsite Shenanigans

The campsite in Shillingstone was basic but did the trick for a comfortable night under the stars. The dinner was another highlight – a delicious choice of meat or veggie paella that left everyone satisfied. After a few drinks and more rider camaraderie, it was time to settle in for the night. Unfortunately, that's when the heavens opened up and unleashed a torrential downpour.

Mud, Glorious Mud!

While the rain at night cleared the skies for the morning, it also had a significant impact on the trails. Especially in the wooded sections, things turned into a full-on mud bath. Riding through it on 40mm gravel tires proved nearly impossible, and there were plenty of casualties with clogged derailleurs and trashed gears. Luckily, my bike held up well, and I managed to reach Swanage by late afternoon (a thorough cleaning of the wheels was definitely needed afterwards, but that's all part of the adventure, right?).

Triumphant (and Exhausted) Return

Despite the mud challenge, I finished the ride feeling incredibly satisfied. Refuelling with some cheesy chips in Swanage was the perfect reward before tackling the extra kilometres back to Bournemouth. Those final 20km definitely tested my legs, but I made it home in one piece, feeling proud of myself for pushing my limits.

The Dorset Gravel Dash was an epic adventure once again. It was fantastic to meet riders from all over, solidifying the event's reputation as a must-do for gravel enthusiasts. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2025 edition – I might just be back for another helping of mud, sweat, and gravel glory!

Dorset Gravel Dash website

Photos by: Timothy Crabb