The Wessex Gravel safari is an epic challenge of 161 miles (260 km) through some of the UK's most ancient beauty spots. Starting in Sherborne, the route heads North East across Salisbury Plain, to the world's largest Stone Circle at Avebury, before heading South to Stonehenge and then onto Cranborne AONB and back to Sherborne.
The parcours can be tackled either as two day adventure with a night camping out under the stars at the Golden Swan Inn, Wilcot, or for the strongest riders it can be taken on as single stage. Either way it’s a big test and a great introduction to self supported adventure racing. Highlights include, Avebury Stone Circle, Stonehenge Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow (a 300 meter detour is required to view the Barrow).
Riders using the Earth Sports Event App can be ‘live tracked’ by friends and family and will appear on the list of finishers.
While the Wessex Gravel Safari II is a reliability ride anyone aiming for the Solo or Team (two up) course record may contact Earth Sports expressing their intent to challenge for the leaderboard at least 7 days prior to the start. Standard Self Supported ITT Ultra Cycling Union rules will apply.
The ‘Wessex Gravel Safari II’ is an epic reliability challenge of 161 miles (260 km) through some of the UK’s most ancient beauty spots. As a ‘Reliability Ride’ participants demonstrate that they are a ‘reliable rider’, by completing a ride within a specified time. Starting in Sherborne, the route heads North East across Salisbury Plain, to the world’s largest Stone Circle at Avebury, before heading South to Stonehenge and then onto Cranborne AONB and back to Sherborne.. Groups of cyclists work together to ensure that they get around the course safely and in time. All riders are required to be self-sufficient. They need to fix their own bikes and take any food or personal medication with them on the ride. For those that wish to stop for a coffee stop(s) on route we recommend the following:
1. Co-op – Westbury @ 62.1 km
2. Mipo Farm Shop - Urchfont @ 95.1 km
3. National Trust Cafe - Avebury @ 120.4
4. Village Shop - Avebury @ 120.5 km
5. Golden Swan Inn – Wilcot @ 135.7 km (Camping)
6. Charlton Cat – Charlton @ 143. 2 km
7. Stonehenge Cafe - Stonehenge @ 163.7 km
8. Talbot Inn - Berwick St John @ 200.7 km
9. Shillingstone Railway Cafe - Shillingstone @ 230.9 km
10. One Stop Convenience shop - Sturminster Newton @ 236 km
This event takes place on the open roads, byways and bridleways and rules of the Highway Code must be obeyed at all times.
All navigation is done via a GPS units like a Garmin Edge or Wahoo Bolt.
Downloadable route maps in the following formats: GPX, TCX & FIT are available on the Routes tab.
Timed Segments for key climbs
All time leader board
For added peace of mind we suggest ETA cycle rescue cover. Cover is for 12 months and costs just £24.
There is no official photographer but please share your own photos on social media #earthsports
Check out the accommodation information for camping and links to local hotels and B&B’s.
A Gravel bike is the most suitable bike but an MTB or adventure/touring bike could also be used.
Free overnight parking is available in the Terraces Car park 700 meters from the HQ start. The Terrace Playing Fields, Gainsborough Park, Sherborne, DT9 5NS
Participants can meet at garden entrance of The Circus which is accessible from the Market Car Park. Help yourself coffee and tea which will be available from the urn from 06:00 until 07:00
Participants can start any time from 5:00 am until 08:00 am
Please search for the Earth Sports app on your app store and download to your smartphone, register via the app and then add the Map My tracks Endurance App, do not use the Outfront App as this will drain battery of your phone. Press start on the Endurance App before you start riding.
Camping & Caravan Park - 6 miles
Hotels & Inns
Self Catering (airbnb)
1) Format: All UCU sanctioned events must be completed solo or as a two-person team, self-supported, and as a single stage, i.e. the clock runs non-stop.
2) Values: Fair play and moral values are valued above victory or gain.
3) Organisation: The event organiser provides the route, control points, start and finish, and live tracking to present rider progress. This is where the responsibility of the race organisers ends.
4) Navigation: Riders are responsible for navigation and may employ any of the following: paper maps, printed routes and GPS devices. It is important that that complex sections of the route are viewed prior to the race by participants using google street level, and google earth.
5) Safety: Riders are responsible for their own safety. This includes adhering to highway law and ensuring that the mandatory 4hrs+ rest every 24hrs) is adhered to.
6) Conduct: Riders must self-police their conduct.
7) Communication: There is no mechanism to communicate to riders on course. Riders alone are responsible for communicating with their friends and family.
8) Tracking: Online GPS tracking is not intended to ensure rider safety. It is for information purposes only, and validation of course compliance. It is a requirement of some events that each participant has a GEOS Subscription for certain events that visit particularly remote locations.
9) Disqualification: The UCU and the race organiser reserves the right to disqualify a rider from the leader board or General Classification (GC) for confirmed rule violations.
10) Time Penalties: The UCU and the race organiser reserves the right to award time penalties to a rider from the General Classification (GC) for confirmed rule violations.
11) Notification of sanction: Athletes will not be notified of possible disqualification/penalty mid-race. It is the sole responsibility of all riders to know the rules, police themselves, and in cases of course deviation, recognise their error + correct it before proceeding on route.
12) Eligibility: Any cyclist over 18 may register to take part in a UCU sanctioned event.
13) Observance of Law: All competitors in, or in the vicinity of the event, must observe the law of the land relating to road use. In particular, but without prejudice to the general principles of this Regulation, competitors must:
I. not ride in a manner that is unsafe either to themselves or to other road users
II. ride on the side of the road as the oncoming traffic except for safe overtaking and when making right turns
III. conform to all traffic signs, signals and direction indicators
IV. in making any turn before, during or after the event, ensure that it is safe to do so.
V. Event officials are not permitted, nor must they seek to regulate or interfere with other traffic.
14) Group Riding: Company Riding or Drafting other riders or vehicles is not permitted in UCU events. However, should a neutralised section be part of the course group riding is permitted at the discretion of the organiser. Outside of a neutralised section any riders spending long periods of time very close to others will come under scrutiny by the race director.
15) Paced & Company Riding (Drafting): Competitors must ride entirely alone and unassisted and not ride in company or take shelter (commonly known as drafting) from other riders or slow-moving vehicles. A competitor overtaking another must pass without receiving or giving shelter. The onus of avoiding company riding shall be upon the rider overtaken. If a rider should catch up another rider they should try to pass as quickly as possible and must not in any other circumstances ride close behind so as to take shelter from the wind. You should set your own pace and not use another rider as a pace maker. Nor is it in order to ride alongside and even to ride a few metres behind for any appreciable distance. In the spirit of the sport, caught riders should not disturb the performance of the rider catching them by repassing and/or riding closely behind them, except when they can sustain that move. This is generally considered to mean that the caught rider should allow a reasonable gap to develop of some 30 to 50 metres. Any riders seen via the live tracking system or otherwise proved to be drafting may be awarded time penalties or even disqualified at the discretion of the race director; this may include the draftee as well as the drafter. It is a rider’s responsibility to ensure that they are not being drafted, as well as that they are not drafting themselves.
16) The UCU strives for equal opportunity for every rider, from those living along the route to those living on other continents. To complete the route, a rider may resupply food / equipment, rent a room, launder clothing, and even service their bike at commercial outlets along the way. The intent is to ride unsupported between towns, and function self-supported when in towns. Any services utilised must always be commercially available to all challengers. No private resupply, no private lodging.
17) Use of Motor Vehicles: A competitor shall not be preceded, accompanied, followed by or in any way receive assistance from a motorised vehicle or its occupants.
18) Feeding: Competitors may not be handed any food, drink or equipment from a helper and may only purchase such items from commercial outlets. Every precaution must be taken to ensure that other traffic or members of the public are not impeded during rest stops.
19) Visitation: UCU events are not intended to be a live spectator sport! However, mid-race support from challengers’ family or friends is permitted so long as no assistance is offered, or supplies provided.
20) Shipping/receiving supplies (to the course): In the name of equal opportunity for international riders and to minimize the race ‘footprint’, challengers are encouraged to race as reliant as possible on commercial services along the route. However, in advance of the start, a competitor may cache food or equipment at postal service offices/shops, a scheduled lodging stop or a bike shop. Typically, this could be to ship a replacement chain and fresh pair of bike shorts to a point on route.
21) Mechanical Breakdown: In the event of a serious mechanical that renders a bike un rideable, a rider may use a motor vehicle in any direction in order to repair the problem. The location of the incident must be well documented by GPS files. A rider may also receive assistance returning back to the exact location of the breakdown to begin forward progress. Again, the entire incident, from breakdown to return to the route must be fully documented by the GPS files.
22) Mechanical assistance: a rider may be assisted by a third party in receiving emergency repair/replacement items only. Food resupply is not considered an emergency. Emergency items must be shipped using a commercial shipper such as Royal Mail, UPS, Fed-Ex, DHL, etc. Items may not be delivered privately by family, friends or even anonymous persons. Items may only be shipped to a commercial address (P.O., hotel, bike shop, etc.), provided that the address is equally available to all racers. Use of a private address (residence) along the route is forbidden. Use of social media to ‘broadcast’ for help (ie. conjure ‘trail magic’) is also forbidden.
23) Medical Treatment: No person may compete whilst knowingly suffering from any disease, mental or physical disorder or is undergoing treatment which makes it unsafe or undesirable to do so.
24) Use of Proscribed Substances: The anti-doping rules of the UCU are the UK Anti-Doping Rules published by UK Anti-Doping (or its successor), as amended from time to time. Such rules shall take effect and be construed as the rules of all UCU events.
Note:- You can find the UK Anti-Doping Rules HERE [http://www.ukad.org.uk/resources/document/uk-anti-doping-rules]
25) Race Route: Aside from permitted deviations to seek lodging, resupply or mechanical servicing/repair, racers must always ride 100% of the Race route as denoted by the most current map edition published by the event organiser. This means if a rider leaves the route for any reason, they must re-join the route at the exact same point. GPX and TCX files of the Race Route will be provided by the organiser. Please ensure you have the final published GPX or TCX route prior to the start.
27) GPS trackers are a requirement: Athletes that own a Spot device or Garmin inReach can register their device online with the Mapmytracks tracking service. those that are hiring a Spot device will collect their device at sign on. We recommend that you use AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries or AAA Energizer™ NiMH Rechargeable in your Spot tracker. Please remember to bring your device and batteries to sign on so we can test your device. If you are hiring a device AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries will come pre installed. The batteries will last about 10 days so you may need to carry spares or purchase more on route.
28) GPS navigators: are permitted but non-essential.
29) Mobile phones: are also permitted, however, mobile service is spotty in remote areas, and Reliance on a mobile phone as a rider’s sole means of outside communication is not advised.
30) There are virtual checkpoints regularly spaced along the route to check the progress of each rider.
29) The organiser will also review segment times to gauge the progress of riders!
29) The majority of the race takes place on A, B and unclassified roads. You will encounter the following types of carriageway along the route:
I. “A” roads
II. “B” roads
III. Unclassified Roads
IV. Byways (gravel)
V. Cycle paths
VI. Single track (short sections may be included)
VII. River crossings may require “portage”.
30) Certain sections of the routes may only traversable at certain times, please take this into account when planning your rest strategy:
31) Competitors: Teams made up of 2 competitors will be accepted for both male, female and mixed categories.
32) Riding together: Team members should ride together. In the event that one team member is unable to continue the remaining rider may continue but will not receive a position in the results.
33) Team competitors must adhere to all the rules and regulations governing all participants, namely they must not assist another rider unless it is a member of their team. Emergency situations excepted.
45) Finish: The Tracking app will automatically record the time and upload the results to the leaderboard.
 Pre-arranged is defined as prior to the start of the race clock.
 Outside assistance is defined as any third party assistance in navigation or lighting and any non-commercial assistance in food resupply and/or lodging. A service is deemed ‘commercial’ when it is for commerce, equally available to all racers.
 Racers may accept motorized transport backwards, directly off and/or back to route from bystanders, passers-by or commercial transportation ONLY. A racer may not contact friends or family (private parties) living along the route for direct assistance.