An event put on against the odds, during the COVID pandemic, the GBDuro is not for the fainthearted, it is for superhumans, that are mentally and physically prepared to push themselves to their limits, and once they get there, beyond that too. 

Almost 3 years in the making, GCN has finally released an epic video of 53 minutes and 27 seconds of ‘I can’t stop watching this footage’.

The self-supported bike race takes riders on a 2,000km route from the southwestern tip of England, through Wales, to the most northern point of Scotland. On tarmac, single track, through rivers, hike-a-bike, and at times, battling a storm. 

For those with a GCN plus account, you can access the full version, and for those without, you can watch the preview. Of course, we’ve watched it in full for you!.. and summarised it below...

We were in the grips of COVID, and to be compliant with the pandemic rules, the organisers switched from riders being ‘self-supported’ to ‘self-sufficient’, meaning no help, no checkpoints, and no access to shops, and buildings.

Even the race organiser Miles Resso, questioned whether completing the race in such conditions was possible.

Adding another layer to the rules, the GBDuro has a no-fly rule, so riders needed to make their own way, with two travellers coming in from overseas. 

So, who would take on such a challenge? MASON supported riders Angus Young, Josh Ibbett, and Jason Black were up for it. Angus and Josh both riding MASON InSearchOf bikes that weighed around 30kg at the start! Jason was riding his MASON Bokeh.

On the 1st of August, 17 riders, hoped to make it to John O’Groats. As they stood on the start line, Angus spoke “Hopefully one person will make it to John O’Groats and then we can prove it is possible.”

An intense first day took riders on unforgiving terrain, from cycling to bike pushing, roadblocks, meetings with tractors, off-balance falls, and several expletives shared!

On day 2 Angus was leading the way “So we are 32 hours in, and I have ridden 500km, and I haven’t slept at all, I’ve probably had 2 hours of stop time in total.”

As for Josh, he was riding on 3 hours of sleep as he started the ride onto the Quantock Hills, Somerset, with the whole hill to himself.

The video also catches up with Jason, as he stopped to refuel, he described his freeze-dried spaghetti carbonara as “That is like Christmas day.”

As the riding continues, Angus described an incline of 15% for around 3km climb as “nuts”, whilst Josh started to feel flat, and tired. This video really gives justice to the beautiful countryside, its roughness, and the unforgiving way that nature can be, with storms and unrideable terrain. So as the day went on, cue, hike-a-bike, shallow rivers, and road riding.

Angus on hike-a-bike “Pushing it the legitimate way, we are getting somewhere it’s not failure.” Angus. 

Meanwhile, Josh, after getting his feet dry from the day before, was back to soggy feet from riding through a large pool of water.

On day 3, the MASON riders, can be seen in order of Angus leading the charge, with Josh second and Jason in third, as they headed through Aberwesyn, Central Wales. 

On day 4, The ‘Gap’ Brecon Beacons, Wales. By this point, I was fully invested in finding out how all the riders were getting on with Angus sharing that he was riding one of the hardest sections of the whole route. As the weather takes a turn for the worse, the video captures the noise of the constant rumble from the thunder as a storm rolled in.

Day 5, the Yorkshire Dales, UK. Waking up to damp sleeping bags and a wet kit, and a day of battling the elements, with wind, rain, and fog the negative thoughts started to creep in…“Do I still want to do this” Angus.

Josh, stopped to help a sheep whose head was stuck in the fence, with the priority for the night, being to find somewhere sheltered to get warm and dry. 

As a viewer, at this point, I was asking myself what is going to happen next as Angus lay uncontrollably shivering on the side of the road. Angus is seen making a call, sharing how he’d been sick and can barely walk before getting back on the bike, battling with himself on whether to continue or not. And then, for Angus, the race was over, final distance 1073km, location Appleby-in-Westmorland, UK. 

Day 6, Thursden, Lancashire, Jason Black, “Yesterday’s section and the day before was probably as close to SAS drilling as you can get.” He shared how he has lost all track of time, not knowing what day it is, just not even knowing where he is. 

Singing his own rendition of ‘It's a Long Way to Tipperary’ and following his route planner, whilst taking just a moment to question whether coming off a rideable path and heading into the woods was the right choice, Jason picks up his MASON, and headed into the forest.

As Josh sat on the England/Scotland border, his breakfast stop was shared with countless unwanted visitors, as he battled the mosquitos, using a head net to keep him from being bitten.

And then after 7 days, 17 hours, and 44 minutes, Josh reached John O’Groats.

“When I first saw the sign for John O’Groats, I thought that’s pretty cool but it’s going to take me at least like a few days to process what I’ve done.”

Then midday, on Day 8, Jason, rolled in with Josh waiting for him at the finish saying “Oh I am glad to be here. What a journey, 2,000km, and everything in between.”

We have huge admiration for all the riders that started out on the GBDuro start line, whether they finished or not. Entries are now closed, but you can find out more about this year's GBDuro 2023 here.

Photo credit: Professional photos by Dan King | Josh Ibbett | Jason Black