Rough Ride

From one half of the team behind the original Rough Ride cross-country MTB event comes our most popular ride, the Rough Ride ‘Reborn’.

It has now morphed into a big country gravel ride on a new route suited to both gravel bikes and cross country MTBs. Starts and finishes in Kington, Herefordshire, and is as gravelly as it gets. We are really looking forward to showing this one off again, as the route is one of the best and most varied we have ridden in the UK. A proper challenging day ride that is just stunning. The route has been switched around quite a bit for 2023 and now features a stunning traverse of Black Mixen.

The final route for the 2023 Rough Ride is above.

Sunday 21st July 2024

  • Distance:  66Km
  • Off Road/Paved Split: 72%/28%
  • Total Climbing: 1680m
  • Max Gradient (up): 19%
  • Max Gradient (down): 30+% (off road for 50m – care needed – walk if not sure)
  • Suitable for: Gravel Bike (40mm+ tyres) or Cross Country MTB (optimal)
  • Registration: Open – see below
  • Route: GPX download is available here (right click and ‘save link as’)

How to Register

Registering is a pretty simple process:

  1. Set up a free Strava account (if you don’t have one already)
  2. Join the Cross Cartel group (called a club in Strava)
  3. Scroll down to the Rough Ride event, and click on “I’m In” (you won’t be able to see the event in Strava until you join the Cross Cartel group)

Right on the Welsh Border the route is 90% in Wales, and features just a couple of extremely short linking stretches on roads with any level of traffic.  The route is over 70% off road, with a full mix of grassy downland, gravel/forest roads, some brief rocky sections (including one very steep descent of around 50m, which is ride-able for experienced riders, but if unsure please just walk down!), singletrack and farm tracks (which can get quite muddy and rutted following wet weather).  The vast majority of paved/tarmac sections are extremely quiet back lanes. We have only test ridden the Rough Ride on gravel bikes, and while they are probably the ideal bike overall for most riders there are a few stretches where a cross country MTB would have been optimal.

Please note that the route passes through no villages that have a shop or other source of food/water.  It passes through mostly pretty empty countryside, but does cross a few roads and through a handful of villages.  There are a fair few gates on the route, so please take care to close them after you, as there are a lot of sheep!


You will need to be fully self sufficient – Cross Cartel rides are all self-supported 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, so please make sure you take a mobile phone for any emergencies. You will need to 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 public liability insurance is highly recommended.

The Cross Cartel has no responsibility for any incidents that occur during or as a result of your ride – you are solely responsible for your own actions and safety while riding our routes, whatever day you choose to ride them. The Cross Cartel do not provide ride support or event venues (with the exception of the Blaenau 600). Our routes are on public trails, tracks and paved roads. 

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.  We are huge supporters of #leavenotrace.

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. Go as fast or as slow as you feel comfortable with!