I met Charlie some years ago in Ireland. I had just pedaled into the tiny village of Kilfinane for SingleSpeed Worlds and was looking for a spot to drop a tent on an empty soccer pitch. Empty except for a green eurovan in the far corner. Around which four guys were opening beers and appeared to be eating cheese while enjoying jazz cigarettes. I decided to make friends like they taught us in kindergarten.
Years later the Bikemonger has now made two trips to the American southwest. The first of which was his initial foray into our Colonial continent ever. And of course it was well documented. We’ve introduced him to stabby desert plants. Good American beer. Pretty red rocks. Authentic Mexican food. Camping without rain. Bootleg fireworks. And Whiskey Trees. Now it would appear to be my turn. There’s no way I could drag Charlie back over the pond without subjecting myself to some time defiling his quaint coastal village.
And for what better occasion than Charlie’s prized pig. The Surly Dorset Gravel Dash. I’ve heard many stories of beer fueled silliness related to this event. Gravel. Camping. Beer. Mud. Singletrack. Meat cooked in the ground. Beer. People that talk funny. Long miles of potentially shitty roads. Pub stops. It seems all the bases are covered.
So I bought my ticket and will take the ride. Any riders out in DC land care to join? Anybody in London want to show a couple yanks the real pubs? It appears spots still remain for the big 100. If I haven’t sold you, check out the official promo material:
The 2018 Surly Dorset Gravel Dash is on Saturday 26th May 2018 to Sunday 27th May 2018. Created by local bike shop keeper Charlie the Bikemonger, it has a somewhat unique approach. It also won “Best New Event” at Bikepacking magazine.
It starts and finishes at a pub by the seaside in Dorset. And if 100 miles of mixed terrain looks daunting, you can do it over two leisurely days with an overnight camp out, where wild animals and amazing foraged food is served with beer and lots more.
What bike is best? Charlie explains: “There is no bike that is ideal. You see, on the Surly Dorset Gravel Dash you will find everything from technical descents to damned fast gravel and old railway lines, all garnished with magnificent sea view and ancient hill forts. We have seen fixed wheel, single speed, cross bikes, gravel bikes, lots of mountainbikes and plenty of fat bikes… and they all had a great time. We are however still waiting for our first tandem entry”.
The 50:50 overnight option is the most popular as it’s a great adventure packed into one weekend. The food is amazing, the campfire atmosphere is very chilled and friendly and the location is stunning. All they ask you to do is bring minimal camping gear on your bike.
The time and place is remarkable. Swanage is an old Victorian seaside holiday town which makes it ideal for abandoning your partner and children whilst you have a mini adventure. What’s more it coincides with the Purbeck Pirate Festival where the town is taken over by pirates, and there is no shortage of things to see and do. Plus on the Friday evening, legendary round the world cyclist Markus Stitz is giving an engaging account of a bikepacking journey less ordinary, presented with pictures, videos and stories from the road, sometimes tragic, most times funny. And finally, with it being a bank holiday weekend, you have all day Monday to savour the experience and get home.
Book your adventure at: http://www.charliethebikemonger.com/events-308-c.aspby