Having spent around 3 years riding gravel bikes around our local area, we knew we needed to expand our horizons and get involved with the local community. What better way than to start joining some gravel events or MTB Sportives.
The tricky part for us, coming from Northern Ireland, was the distinct lack of Gravel events on the Island.
We had originally signed up to enter an event in October, but with the 'later than planned' arrival of our 2nd child, we left ourselves slightly short on time and volunteer baby sitters to make the start line, and subsequently had to ride out the end of 2019 yet to lose our gravel grinder virginity.
Having crammed in the birth of our new arrival, a house move, and trying to work on our new business over the Christmas holidays, it's safe to say that our bikes were starting to look a little neglected and dusty as we approached the new year.
But as they say, new year new me?!
My wife Julie was at least 2 glasses of wine deep when she made the announcement to the household that she had just signed us up for the Roe Valley 5 Forests Sportive for 2020. (An event she had ridden with a friend the year before so she should have had an idea of what to expect).
"Oh, great, when is that happening then, we should get some training done perhaps?"
I quickly discovered it was that same weekend and that our chances of training in advance of the event was out the window!
Never the less, having drafted in a few mates, and bribed Granny to come and juggle the kids for the day, off we headed to the epicentre of the country that is Limavady and set about tackling the 50km loop.
"...having drafted in a few mates, and bribed Granny to come and juggle the kids for the day, off we headed to the epicentre of the country that is Limavady..."
The ride started with a gentle roll out along a flat tarmac road was followed by a mixture of mostly off road fire-road paths, single track trails and the odd link of tarmac snaking through the abandoned hillside.
A great event in the end, and was really well organised and marshalled by the Roe Valley cycle club. We're now totally hooked, and already have our wall planner out to scheme which events we can make it to throughout 2020!