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Raiders Gravel presented by Canyon got off to a breathtaking start on Friday with the riders taking on the tough 73.5km opening stage around the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.

The route took the riders north east to the western edge of Loch Ken before heading west and onto the Raiders Road, which gives its name to the event. After reaching the southern tip of Clatteringshaws Loch they headed south and back to the Big Water of Fleet viaduct, where the real action had begun hours earlier.

The opening kilometres out of Gatehouse of Fleet were on road and ridden behind the race’s lead car but even then the group was split before it reached the gravel. With intermittent rain and some wind the day made for a hard but enjoyable day out.

“It was awesome, it was really good fun,” said Metheven Bond, who was second over the line in Gatehouse of Fleet, finishing the course in 1.55.56. “It’s nice to do an event that is just gravel because other events I’ve been to have been a 60/40 split of gravel, whereas I think this was 50 metres of road.”

John Sturman finished six places behind Metheven in a time of 2.08.30 as the leading solo Masters man.

“It was nice to have a proper gravel surface but not too technical, which is nice for everyone in the field. And it was nice surroundings too, four seasons on one day,” he said referencing the, er…, changeable weather.

Raiders isn’t just about those at the front of the race, others were out for the challenge, or to see the beautiful Scottish countryside, with no expectation of winning.

Becky Lane and Kit Buchanan rode as one of our many male/female teams and finished in 3.13.59.

“I had a cracking day, I’m cracked myself, but the landscape was just lovely,” Becky said. “I don’t think I’ve ever ridden roads like that in the UK, we don’t have any near us in Birmingham, so it was a treat to get out and do a really long route like that.”

Saturday’s second stage is the longest of weekend, taking the riders over some of the same roads, but also around the the Clatteringshaws Loch to the event’s highest point 356m (1170 feet) above sea level. With 1080m of climbing over the 80.7km it’ll be another challenging day out.

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