Pennine Rally 2023
100 riders, 500 kilometres, and five days of testing off-road riding from Edinburgh to Manchester down Britain’s backbone.
16 June 2023
As the dust settles on another epic edition of the Rapha Pennine Rally, we’re already reminiscing over the highs, and some lows, experienced along the exacting 500-kilometre off-road route from Edinburgh to Manchester. Here are a few of our favourite moments captured:
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.
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.
PUTTING THE EXPLORE COLLECTION TO THE ULTIMATE TEST
I wore my trusty Cargo Bib Shorts to do the Pennine Rally express. Even though I carried a pair of the Core Cargo Shorts too, I opted to hand wash the bibs and re-wear them because I find the chamois super comfortable and I love all the pockets - handy to carry food, comfortable and I know they stay in place. I wish all women’s clothing incorporated this many pockets!”
Women’s Cargo Bib Shorts - Emilie Repponen
This jacket is something I threw in my bag at the last minute and in all honesty, I can’t fault it. It’s got all the useful features for bikepacking: lightweight, folds up small, hooded, and a double zip for warmer days. This is a staple for me from now on.”
Explore Lightweight GORE-TEX™ Jacket - Amy Perryman
A real 3-in-1: wind jacket, breezy sun screen, apres attire. Easy to clean, dries fast, and if you’re ever not wearing it, stuff the shirt into the built-in pocket with reckless abandon – the wrinkles fall out with the next wear.”
Explore Shirt - Stu Downie
This jacket was perfect, it was ideal for chilly starts and finishes, or if a big descent was coming up. Plus, the DWR coating gave me peace of mind that if the weather really turned bad I'd be able to find some cover before it got really miserable, it was my go to for all eventualities.”
Explore Lightweight Jacket - Theo Clarke