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Pennine Rally

100 riders, 500 kilometres and five days of testing off-road riding from Edinburgh to Manchester down Britain’s backbone. This year’s Rapha Pennine Rally was one to be remembered.

30 June 2022

Part long-distance audax, part multi-day stage race; half cross course, half hill-climb, the Pennine Rally is a mud-spattered mongrel of a ride. But for those brave enough to enter, all manner of rewards lay in wait on this self-supported off-road adventure along Britain’s mountainous backbone.

Riding from Edinburgh to Manchester is no mean feat, so only the hardy applied. We kept the crowd varied with a total of 49 women, 46 men and 6 non-binary riders at the rally. And with over 8,000 metres of ascent on the route, it was essential that everyone brought their climbing legs.

“Nothing beats traversing across two countries on two wheels carrying everything you need. Always beautiful, sometimes brutal, the Rally tested everything I had but provided the best rewards. The climbs were savage, but the views were breathtaking. Over some long solo stints, I found new pockets of headspace and confidence, and then joy in the shared meals, camp spots and camaraderie on the road. I want to go and do it all again.”

- Harriet Ashworth.

Day one

THE ROUTE

All riders on the Pennine Rally are expected to be self-sufficient, but one thing you don’t have to think about is the route. This winding mix of ancient highways and gravel byways was created by the bikepacking advocates over at Outdoor Provisions, who produce a fine range of all natural energy bars and nut butters in compostable wrappers, for exactly this kind of venture.

Starting out in Edinburgh, the route headed off the roads almost immediately in the Pentland Hills, before winding its way south to take in some of the finest gravel roads, byways, drovers’ roads and bridleways that the Pennines have to offer. There was only the occasional tarmac interruption and, trust us, they came in handy.

There was plenty of stunning scenery and remote riding along the length of the Pennine range, passing through the Scottish Borders, the North Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland before the final approach to Manchester and the safe haven of the Rapha Clubhouse.

Day two

Day three

THE RULES

This is a self-supported ride, with participants expected to arrange their own food and accommodation according to their pace and schedule. We signposted good options for accommodation along the route, though wild camping was encouraged where legal.

There are three mandatory controls along the route, providing the chance to top up on supplies, have a coffee and steel yourself for the next section.

Five days may seem generous, but this is a rally not a race. Riders are encouraged to enter with the spirit of adventure in mind, not a fast finishing time. It’s tough going at points and some travelled slower than expected on some sections. We split the route in five sections as a guide, though riders were free to adapt this according to their plans and circumstances.

That said, for those determined to deprive themselves of sleep, we offered a limited number of ‘express option’ places. Leaving a day later than the rest of the field, they had just four days to make it to Manchester.

However you chose to break down the route, riders were reminded to respect the challenge and look after themselves. Sleep was encouraged, rather than penalised. As we said, this is a rally, not a race.

Day four

Day five

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