Cross Cartel rides are not traditional “events” or mass start rides – they are open to everyone, free of charge and aren’t on private courses or in private venues. They simply offer a carefully mapped route and a named date on which to ride and record your route completion – starting at any time of the day. All rides are on tracks, trails and lanes that are open to general public, and which we have test ridden many times.

All of our rides take place over a single day, and start on or close to the England/Wales border. The idea is to provide a self-sufficient riding challenge, but not one that is super-human or that needs unusual specialist equipment. The rides follow fixed routes on gravel, dirt and back lanes, and are fully self-supported with no event team or infrastructure, and no course direction arrows or check points – simply download and follow the route on your GPS or smartphone app, then upload your ride file after you finish.

NEW FOR 2021: Our existing routes are suitable for either gravel bikes or MTBs, but for 2021 we will be adding a ‘Back Lane Bash’ in May that will also be rideable on road bikes with sensible tyres (think 28mm minimum with decent puncture protection). It’ll be gritty and rough in places, and there may even be a brief hard packed dirt lane thrown in, so it won’t be fast – sticking to true back lanes, it should lend itself nicely to a chilled day out on the bike in true Cross Cartel style.

Planned by staff from Epic Cycles, who have been exploring this area by bike for over a century between them.

Social Distancing

As none of the Cross Cartel rides are mass start or group rides they lend themselves well to social distancing – there is no ‘mass gathering’ element at all!  Feel free to start your ride when it suits you. Riders will of course spread out very widely as they get into the ride, but during the Covid-19 pandemic please be careful to observe government rules and guidance on social distancing.

In particular, please do not form groups with people you have not traveled with, and maintain a 2m distance at all times from anyone you are not in a ‘bubble’ with.  This will mainly be of concern at the start – so please just make sure to leave big gaps between yourself and other riders as you set out.

Sunday 25th April 2021

The Spring Challenge was postponed last year and became the Autumn Epic – but for 2021 it’s back in its traditional spring slot, where it provides an ideal return to warmer weather, with tracks and trails that should have dried out a bit after what is usually a sticky mud winter in these parts. Starting and finishing in Ludlow, Shropshire, the Spring Challenge takes in a mix of forest tracks, bridleway and gritty back roads.

  • Distance: 64Km
  • Off Road/Paved Split: 52%/48%
  • Total Climbing:  1000m
  • Max Gradient (up): 18% (off road)
  • Max Gradient (down): 22% (on road)
  • Suitable for:  Gravel Bike or Cross Country MTB (e.g. Hardtail)
  • Registration:  Open now – click on More Info below

More Info >>

June 2021

Exploring the varied terrain of the ancient estates of the Earl of Mortimer, starting and finishing in the Mortimer Forest on the very edge of Ludlow, the route links together some lovely stretches of off-road riding using quiet byways and true back lanes.

The Mortimer Round is a challenging ride, as it is lumpy and has a fairly high off road percentage, but it’s not too technical and is pretty weather proof.

  • Distance: 78Km
  • Off Road/Paved Split: 38%/62%
  • Total Climbing: 1140m
  • Max Gradient (up): 20% (off road)
  • Max Gradient (down): 25% (off road – needs some grip!)
  • Suitable for:  Gravel Bike (recommended) or Cross Country MTB
  • Route File (GPX):  See ‘More Info’ below

July 2021

From one of the team behind the original Rough Ride cross-country MTB event comes a new event – the Rough Ride Reborn. This time, it’s back as a gravel ride on a new route equally suited to both gravel bikes and cross country MTBs. Starts and finishes in Kington, Herefordshire, and is as gravelly as it gets – it’s an absolute belter of a ride!

  • Distance: 69Km
  • Off Road/Paved Split: 72%/28%
  • Total Climbing: 1480m
  • Max Gradient (up): 28% (on tarmac section)
  • Max Gradient (down): 30+% (off road for 50m – care needed – walk if not sure)
  • Suitable for:  Gravel Bike or Cross Country MTB
  • Route File (GPX):  See ‘More Info’ below


August 2021

Don’t be fooled by the proportions of off to on-road with this one. The time will be well over 50%, and some of the paved roads are barely surfaced. Includes some of the finest and most varied ridge riding you’ll find anywhere, with both Wenlock Edge and Long Mynd among the highlights. Be prepared for a couple of short hike-a-bike climbs too, unless the going is especially dry.

  • Distance: 101Km
  • Off Road/Paved Split: 40%/60%
  • Total Climbing: 1420m
  • Max Gradient (up):  28% (off road)
  • Max Gradient (down): 22% (off road)
  • Suitable for: Gravel Bike or Cross Country MTB
  • Registration Open


You will need to be fully self sufficient – these are self-supported rides on routes that are open to the general public, with no emergency back up or mechanical support of any kind.  You need to take spares and supplies with you.  There will be no rescue vehicle to collect you if you have a mechanical.  Make sure you take a mobile phone for any emergencies.  Call a friend to collect you or the emergency services in the event of a medical incident.  And it is sensible to be insured – you don’t need race insurance, as our rides aren’t races, but general cycle/travel insurance is highly recommended.

The Cross Cartel, Epic Cycles Ltd and any other supporters or associates bear no responsibility for any incidents that occur during your ride – you are solely responsible for your own actions and safety while riding our routes, whatever day you choose to ride them.

Please follow the Highway Code at all times when on the roads, and the Countryside Code when off road – and PLEASE close all gates and take litter home with you.

About Cross Cartel Rides

Cross Cartel rides neither races nor traditional organised leisure rides. They are are similar to what were traditionally called “reliability trials”, where the objective or challenge is to complete a pre-determined route on a particular date within a time limit – but in our case the limit is all day and we have no set start time. The challenge is simply to ride a mapped route on a given day, at a time of your choosing. We will publish completion names and times for your interest, but there is no podium and no prizes. Go as fast or as slow as you feel comfortable with!