Firstly I have to put this ride into context with what had happened the night before Das Rad Klub’s Dirty Sunday. Around 1:30AM we were woken in our hotel room by a half naked man covered in blood trying to smash down various doors with a fire extinguisher due to his girlfriend sleeping with his best mate. Add the dozen or so police officers and several hours trying to calm him down we didn’t get much sleep so bare with us.
Those that don’t know of Das Rad Klub or the Dirty Sunday rides held twice a year in Bristol you are really missing out on something. We were lucky enough to be invited down the other week while on one of our bike packing trips from Bristol to home (more on that to follow).
On a very wet and sleep deprived Sunday around fifty like-mined folks turned out for 75km of gravel, mud, rain and fun. Those hardy few, filled with coffee from Camber, part of the Business As Usual trio, set off for a wild and epic ride taking in the surrounding areas that intertwine Bristol and Bath.
Heading off just after 9am within the first 5KM we were greeted by the River Avon which had burst its banks due to a high tide. Wading through a good foot of water was only the start of things to come. Add the mud and mechanicals and you know that a Dirty Sunday was living up to its name.
Slowly pushing forward I joined a group of folks who clearly knew each other from the banter that was going on and introducing myself they seem not to mind me joining in. It turned out that within the group one chap use to live close to where we are based and two other guys had relations that live in the same town…..small world!
Through the various kissing gates, turnstiles and muddy fields we pushed forward at a snails pace laughing at what was to come and knowing the weather forecast was going to be mostly cats and dogs all day. Soon we came to the outskirts of Bath and a semi-planned coffee stop was in order and a welcome relief. This is where I had a phone call from the Police regarding what had happened the night before and due to this I now had a time frame as to when I would have to be back in Bristol.
With canal paths out of Bath giving a welcome break from the muddy fields and sloppy climbs I knew it couldn’t last and we were soon out and about exploring routes which were absolutely amazing, even if it was pissing it down.
Soon we were back in the thick of it sliding around and having a laugh. There are a couple of killer climbs in the route hitting around 16% and when they are slippery and wet you know it is going to be a fun time. The odd cow poo made for a game of hit or miss and stopping from time to time to remove what you hoped was mud made for stinky fingers.
The Dirty Sunday route is basically a figure of eight. That being said we missed the turning which would have taken on a lovely grass track. Instead we ended up with a super muddy down hill full of rocks and a small stream trickling through the over grown shrubbery. Half way down it was agreed that we should walk back up and find the correct path as no one knew where this would take us…..wise choice in my mind. Once back up and on the correct path and through more kissing gates we would soon part ways. The lack of sleep had finally caught up with me and I know that taking a short cut would allow me to get back with my dignity intact.
The last 7km felt like it was mostly going up hill with a headwind and rolling back into Bristol I couldn’t have been happier. The goodwill I was shown from those organising Dirty Sunday, and along the way from those taking part, demonstrate that on grass routes rides you have a far more interactive appeal you don’t get on much bigger and commercial rides. It’s not about time or how quick you can finish, or about how expensive your bike may be. These rides are what “gravel” should be about and for me they are the best!
Anyway……..Knowing my camera had become covered in more and more mud, I knew that it was an epic day of cycling! While the weather conditions were far from perfect, I wouldn’t have changed it in anyway. My only wish was that I was able to clean my camera so that many of the photos that were taken were in focus and not splatted in God knows what.
Roll on May when Das Rad Klus will hold the next Dirty Sunday!