The Southern Divide – Autumn 2023

September 2023

We believe this is the ultimate southern bikepacking adventure. Take the road less travelled between Land’s End and London. Pass through World Heritage sites, National Parks and AONB’s

By road, what we really mean is ancient byways, mining trails, woodlands, coastal cliff tops, national trails and a bit of single-track, all joined together with a few bits of tarmac.

Around 670km of roads & mixed terrain trails with 8.850 metres of climbing. You will ride from one side of the country to the other. A Southern Divide from the Atlantic to the Kent Coast.

There are two ride options for you to choose.
The CHALLENGE pace – 86 hrs
The TOURIST pace – 134 hrs

*It’s a huge challenge
*You will need to be self sufficient
*It will be beautiful
*It will be an amazing adventure

*Dotwatcher commentary for family & friends

Challenge Adventure

When: 6:30 am Thu 21 Sep – 8:30 pm Sun 24 Sep (86hours) – timings tbc

Tourist Adventure

When: 6:00 am Thu 21 Sep – 8:00 pm Tue 26 Sep (134 hours) – timings tbc

Entry Fee: £155 to include tracker & camping at the start

Entries open on 1st Jan 2023

Challenge Adventure

This is our toughest option. You will be prepared to keep riding, and ride at night with minimum sleep. You are likely to bivy in a field, rather than relax in hotels.

This is not an option for the faint hearted. It will appeal to experienced bike-packers, ultra-riders or fast tourers who want an end of season adventure, and ride either a hardtail MTB or a well-equipped gravel bike with big tyres and low gearing.

Tourist Adventure

The route is spectacular, and you won’t want to miss the scenery by being too tired, or ride at night, so for those that want time to enjoy the views, the tourist pace is for you. It gives more time to complete the adventure, but you will still need to keep moving.

This option gives you more time to soak up the scenery, find camp sites or take advantage of accommodation with walls & a bed if you prefer. You can still camp with all other riders at the start, receive rider packs, be tracked, and added to our finishers board if you finish within the time limit. Be under no illusions though, this is still a significant challenge. This will appeal to newer bike-packers, and more leisurely ultra-riders who don’t relish too much night riding, those that prefer to take things a little slower, enjoy the scenery or get more sleep. This option is perfect for those that want to ride with a small group of friends.

With regards to bike choice, we still suggest a bike with the biggest tyres you can fit, and a wide range of gears. It is gravel bike friendly, but a few modifications for comfort are highly recommended. The route is not too technical, but it’s tough, rocky in places and there will be plenty of hike-a-bike.

Our inaugural event in 2022 was a huge hit with riders and we hope it will soon become a calendar favourite. It is possibly the toughest timed route across the south and has been created to showcase the spectacular scenery the south has to offer. With a new route for this edition, including parts of the North Downs Way, you will finish on the Kent Coast at Rochester in Kent

Encouraging Diversity

As a woman led event, I am very keen to see more women riders undertake our challenges. I am encouraged that women are beginning to take on ultra rides, but there are still barriers for many women, especially for those of colour. So, for 2023 we have teamed up with the Women of Colour Cycling Collective and Niel Copeland of Turn Cycling to offer 3 supported places. If you are interested in taking part and want to know what support is available, then please contact us directly for more details.

What our riders say

“What it gave was a more intimate ultra challenge without endless rules or a deliberately brutal course but where the terrain would push you hard and most importantly an awesome shared experience.

We may have been riding alone but the atmosphere you created was one of us all being together. That aspect I really enjoyed.” Niel Copeland

Hills, tough-terrain, views” Dan Hardy

Bumpy, Breathtaking, Adventure” Nat Smith

A ride where you never know what is around the corner but can be sure it will be beautiful” Sam Wall

Format

The format is similar to other self-sufficient rides you may be familiar with, where you cannot accept any outside assistance that isn’t available to all other riders. You are responsible for your own sleeping and eating arrangements, but we do allow you to book accommodation along the way, if you are not looking to camp/bivvy. However, time is limited, so if you are not a fast rider, there won’t be too much time to relax in hotels!! What is interesting to note however that in 2022 riders that didn’t ride with any camp kit all scratched early on in the ride – this may just be coincidence, but it’s worth considering. A mixed approach worked well for most with some nights in hotels, and some camping. Even if you are riding solo, you are never truly alone. A lively What’s App group keeps riders in touch with each other, sharing their tales from the road.

There are 4 controls points along the route, and all our riders have trackers linked to Map My Challenges so your friends can follow your progress.

There are no prizes for coming first, but riders can savour a beer at the end, in the pub overlooking Rochester Castle. There are also some extra special goodies that could come your way thanks to our amazing partners, Tailfin and Faction.

This is an ADVENTURE not a RACE. It will be a tough journey, but we hope you’ll have fun too.

We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously, and due to the linear nature of the ride, suggest that riders use public transport to get to the start and from the finish. Land’s End is close to Penzance which has a fast train service from London, and Rochester is on a mainline rail route just a short hop to London. There are a number of hotels close to the finish point. If you are travelling from outside the UK, our nearest ferry option is from Roscoff to Plymouth, with mainline railway to Penzance.

Camping will be available at the start and is including in your entry fee. We very much hope that riders will get to know each other by camping together on the Wednesday night. In 2022 riders descended on the local pub for a pre-ride pizza, something we’ll aim to do again in 2023


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