Travellers' Tales: The Devon Dirt

Julia Browne headed into the Dartmoor Hills with big tyres and modest ambitions
Cycling the Devon Dirt
Cycling the Devon Dirt

Travellers' Tales: The Devon Dirt

The previous year’s Devon Dirt had been fun but hard work: 30 miles on my partner’s fat bike, trying to stay with a group who were faster and fitter… and not on fat bikes. As the 2017 version was a figure-of-eight loop, I checked whether it would be cheating to ride just the first loop and stop. Organiser Graham Brodie was agreeable, and so first-timer Meg Hepworth and I put in our entries quick. This time I had my own fat bike, so Meg borrowed my partner’s. At least neither of us would have a bike advantage over the other! For me, the biggest appeal of the Devon Dirt is that it’s ‘proper’ riding. The focus is on stitching together bridleways, green lanes, rough woodland tracks, and moorland trails with short tarmac stretches, lots of climbing, and great scenery. Dartmoor isn’t short on scenery, and on a sunny spring day, trekking on a bike is an excellent way to appreciate it.
 

Devon Dirt
 
The fat bikes were fine. It was a bit more work getting them uphill on roads, but they were so sure-footed, stable, and forgiving on the rough stuff. If you have the gearing and the legs, they’ll climb anything. We made the right call to ride only the first, 17-mile loop, however. We’d already climbed just over 2,000ft and were dead last coming in to the lunch stop – only partly because we kept stopping to take photos. The Dirt is emphatically not a race, fortunately! Every year, I wear the T-shirt and aching legs with pride.
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