'The Distance' by Bruce - Kinesis Bikes
The Distance - Kinesis Bikes

'The Distance' by Bruce

Last weekend we headed to south western Scotland for an inaugural 'The Distance', a new type of adventure cycling event and the brainchild of Focal events (the same guys who brought us Dirty Reiver). With help from local riders they created a course where riders had their own adventure, depending on how fast they rode but linked up with everyone when they camped out overnight and then finished with a social ride!

One of those riders local to the area was Kenny, the guy who started the now famous 100 page plus Tripster ATR thread on the Singletrack world forum. Kenny unfortunately has had some health issues so couldn’t ride but he was integral to the success of the event & it was great to meet him.

For a typical bikepacking adventure beginning, 10 of us slept the night before the ride on the floor of the village hall where The Distance began the following morning. No excuses for missing the start!


DIST-Art1

We woke early roused by hot coffee as we listened to the rain drumming down on the large roof of the quintessential British village hall. It would be a day for the hardy, as it wasn’t predicted to clear up until the afternoon. Entries were dropping as people came to sign on, unfortunately when you put on a bike packing event and it rains torrentially the prospect of camping after a long wet day can put people off. The Scot’s amongst us told us that the weather would blow through, we couldn’t fault the optimism.

Riders set off in dribs and drabs off into the mist and rain, skirting through a trail centre and then on to the first checkpoint via flooded roads and a tumultuous headwind.


DIST-Art2

The first stop was at the top of Orchardton Tower, the only circular tower house in Scotland! Then depending on how fast it took you to do the first section you were given a map to deliver you along the next bit of the route.

Climbing up through hills shrouded in swirling mist and drizzle we joined our first gravel tracks, up past deserted graveyards and through forgotten hamlets. The rain was heavy and constant, the descents flowing and well earned. Through a long valley, down deserted roads into bustling and sodden Kirkcudbright, and into the nearest Coffee Shop.


DIST-Art4

Fuelled by necessary caffeine and enthusiasm for more “epic’ness”, it was into the hills once more. The forestry tracks cut deeply into the hills of the Galloway forest park. The terrain was not that of manicured smooth gravel, Scotland gave us a mucky misture of bridleways. The route followed a disused railway along a never-ending valley including a comical hike a bike section. It was truly wild out there.


DIST-Art3

The cloud broke and riders were exposed to the drama of Scottish hills after the rain departed, the sun clearing it quickly and bringing humidity. The climbs got bigger here opening up around the Lochs of the Galloway forest. The riders still didn’t know where they were headed, but the better weather helped to raise spirits in the knowledge of a hot shower, a Gin and Tonic and a decent meal at our destination.


DIST-Art5

The organisers were by now installed in the secret camp ready to receive guests, luckily that secret camp was the fantastic Kirroughtree forest hub which forms part of the 7 Stanes network of MTB trails across the Scottish borders. As the weather continued to clear there were even glimpses of blue in the sky! The guys from Pannier.cc had their Tepee erected and campfires lit as the first riders rolled down the blue route. With their Brevet cards stamped, they received their Gin Recovery Cocktail and began to unwind.


DIST-Art6

It was fantastic to see a refreshingly diverse array of riders around the dinner table and camp fire, from experienced extensively bearded travellers to total novices drawn into the adventure that cycle touring brings. Stories were shared “didn’t that climb go on forever”, “Wasn’t the view incredible”. The gin flowed and bowls of fresh popcorn were passed around as the fires crackled.


DIST-Art7

Riders woke to a windy but dry start on the Sunday, with most opting for the “full English” before reloading their bags, taking to their bikes, and restarting their enthusiasm. The second day’s route headed over a pass through the high hills in upper Galloway tracing down to the picturesque coast of the Solway firth.


DIST-Art8

Tracing along the coast back to Kirkcudbright, the headwind turned into a gifting tail wind. It was strong and powerfully drove the riders inland. With the finish insight, bigger groups formed along the windy roads. Fish and chips seemed like a good excuse to get out of the weather, with people deciding between fried food and the local cafes. Everyone was in good spirits heading up the final few climbs, powered by now a monstrous tail wind.


DIST-Art9

Tracing along the coast back to Kirkcudbright, the headwind turned into a gifting tail wind. It was strong and powerfully drove the riders inland. With the finish insight, bigger groups formed along the windy roads. Fish and chips seemed like a good excuse to get out of the weather, with people deciding between fried food and the local cafes. Everyone was in good spirits heading up the final few climbs, powered by now a monstrous tail wind.


DIST-Art10

We are certainly looking forward to working again on next edition of “The Distance”. Stay tuned for more #BeyondGravel action.


We Now Accept
SagePay_Icon
Visa_Icon
VisaDebit_Icon
VisaElectron_Icon
MasterCard_Icon
PayPal_Icon
V12 Finance

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better.