The Smoke Ring Challenge
A self-supported bikepacking adventure
around the Big Smoke!

July 5th – 6th, 2024, Tilbury, Essex

What is the Smoke Ring Challenge?

The Smoke Ring is a 200 mile (320km) MTB/gravel route that orbits London (aka the Big Smoke) in an anti-clockwise direction. This long-distance off-road route was created and published by MTB Epics UK back in 2014. For 2024, we are hosting a self-supported bikepacking adventure.

Riding through Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey and Kent, the many highlights will include some of the best off-road trails in the south-east of England.

You will encounter a huge array of different types of trails and surfaces over the 200 mile distance, including bridleways, byways, singletrack, woodland and urban, as well as country parks and several areas featuring purpose-built MTB trails.

While located so close to one the biggest cities in the world, the riding is surprisingly good. The views are excellent too, including the High Weald in Essex, the Colne Valley in Bucks, the Surrey Hills AONB and the iconic Box Hill.

The event route starts in Essex on the north bank of the river Thames and will head north towards the ancient and huge Epping Forest. You’ll then head west across the top of the Big Smoke, taking in a diverse mix of landscapes before eventually heading south to cross the Thames near the famous town of Windsor. From here the route turns south-east to cross the Berkshire and Surrey heathlands before joining the final, and toughest section! The ups and downs are relentless as you traverse the Surrey Hills and North Downs, slowly making your way east, into Kent and the finish line overlooking the Thames again at Gravesend. But beware! the final 80 mile section is laced with plenty of off-road technical riding and makes this a tougher route than a lot of riders may think! 


200 miles (322 km)


10,000k feet (3,040m)

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What’s included ?

– Event information pack

– Comprehensive route guide

– Fully detailed OS maps

– GPX files

– Public liability insurance

– Big discount on Exposure Lights

Something For Everyone!

Awesome event and a surprisingly good route. Would do it again again! – Tim Neal (2015 SRC rider)


You’d never think an off-road loop so close to one of the biggest cities in the world could be so much fun! – Paul Wright (2017 SRC rider)

Telegraph Road – Surrey Hills


How hard is this event?
The 200 mile distance and the 10,000ft of elevation gain is a challenge on its own. With a large part of the route being off-road and with plenty of opportunities to test your skills, together will make this event a pretty tough ride for most.

What type of bike do I need?
A gravel bike could be the right choice if you’re looking to complete in a quick time, however, a short travel mountain bike would also be a good choice – either hardtail or full suspension. FYI – so far, all the FKT’s have been set using a MTB!

When and Where does the event start and finish?
Registration will take place on the north shore of the river Thames (Essex), close to the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry landing on the afternoon of Friday 5th July. The ride itself follows and begins with a mass start. The event officially finishes the next evening, on Saturday 6th July on the south shore of the river (Kent), close to the ferry landing in Gravesend.

– Is the event timed?
We will have live GPS tracking throughout, however, any timing will be down to you. Details on rules, how the timing works and how to submit your time etc will be sent out closer to the event.

How will I get to and from Essex?
Probably the easiest way is getting dropped off and collected from the start/finish. Or you could leave your car nearby.  The nearest train station north of the Thames is Tilbury, and south of the river is Gravesend.

Where can I park?
Parking info will be released a bit nearer the time.

Can I enter on the day?
No, Last entries will close 1 week before the event starts (last entries accepted 28th June)

Will event run in bad weather?
Yes, for example if part of the route is flooded, a diversion will be in force.

I’m planning on arriving in Essex the night before, is there anywhere to camp/stay?
There’s plenty of hotel/B&B accommodation to be  found in the area. Motorhomes/campervans/caravans and tents can all be pitched nearby. Camping details will be sent out a bit nearer the time.

– Can I take my bike on the ferry?
Yes you can, important info about the ferry will be included in the event info pack.




Thank You To Our Partners

Register to Ride!

Please click button to register and follow payment instructions to complete your entry