In a moment of madness, I decided that 2022 would be my year to do something epic in a different way to my normal endurance stuff, and go off road. I felt like time was running out for me with big against the clock challenges, but also I needed something to get fit again for. And so, I entered the GB Duro.
If you don’t know what this is, it’s a Land’s End to John O’Groats ride, taking the hard route. It is 2000 km, and around half of it is off road. It takes place mid August, so there’s a hope that the weather won’t be too rough.
The GB Duro has been described as a ‘scrappy rolling picnic through Britain’s ever changing landscapes’.
It is run by The Racing Collective, who had deciding that professional cycling had lost it’s way on it’s environmental credentials. With huge support entourages, and sponsors that included petrol chemical companies, they felt that events such as the Tour De France were significantly adding to climate change issues. So, they wanted to create an event that showed what sustainable sport could look like.
Since 2020 GB Duro has a no fly ride rule, meaning that riders must not fly to or from the event. Adding to carbon emissions in this way didn’t sit well with their conscience. And by being a self supported bike packing ride, it’s also a ‘leave no trace’ event.
Although anyone can apply, they only accept a limited number of entrants based on merit. There are a number of different selection criteria, and being fast isn’t necessarily the main advantage to getting a place. You could be from an under-represented group, you could be a novice with a great mental attitude, or you could be someone who spends their time encouraging others to ride or care for our environment.
I filled in my form, and a few months later, was surprised when I was offered a place.
So, by the beginning of February, it was time to plan my approach to the ride. Except that at the time, I was suffering a significant IBD flare up, and cycling long distance couldn’t be further from my mind. But, with the assumption that my flare would eventually subside, I entered events through the spring and summer to help me prepare.
At Easter – The plan was to take on the Dales Divide, a 600km self supported bike packing ride from Arnside in Cumbria to Scarborough and back. It crosses some pretty hostile parts of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
In June – I am planning on completing the Great British Escapade. This is a tough, but less hostile event that’s a loop from Canterbury, following both the North and South Downs Way. Again, there is a lot of off road. I unsuccessfully tried it in 2021 as my first ever off road ultra, but only lasted 23 hours due to a storm that came in, off the back of other storms earlier in the week. The mud was unrelenting, much of the route was flooded, and the rain was torrential. Hardly anyone made it to the end. So I have unfinished business.
Check out my ‘Road to GB Duro’ blogs that I will be periodically posting charting my progress as I prepare for this mad challenge I’ve set myself.
Once again, I am fundraising for Solent Mind, and it would be amazing if you can help to support this great mental health cause. You can donate at the link below
You can also follow my progress on my social media channels
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mawonavelo/
I had been nervous about this ride from the moment I entered. It’s so far up north, has a reputation for bad weather, and is an environment that I have never ridden before. When I looked at the route, it was clear that during most of the ride I would be a long way from any escape routes, food stops, or 24 hour facilities…in fact ANY facilities for many hours at a time.
But, on the other hand, the scenery looked stunning, and it would be an adventure. So I overcame my fears, and set about preparing for the ride.Keep reading