DotWatcher Dozen 2024

DotWatcher Dozen 2024

13 January, 2024

1. Classic - TransIbérica

For the first time since the race’s inception in 2018, the event will start outside of the Iberian Peninsula in the Dolomiti town of Bolzano but finish in the familiar town of Bilbao, Spain, as is the race’s tradition. While the estimated distance of this free-route event is similar to previous years, the route will be on unridden territory for this race.

The 10 checkpoints have traditionally been in Spain, Portugal and the French Pyrenees, but for 2024 on their way from Bolzano to Bilbao, the first checkpoints are the Furka Pass in Switzerland and Mont Aigoual and Mont Ventoux in France before finally reaching familiar ground in at the fourth checkpoint in Carcassonne. Given the early kilometers in Italy, Switzerland and France, riders will not spend any time south of Barcelona and all of their Spanish riding will be in the Pyrenees and the Basque Country.

The start list is bigger than ever and the appetite for this new route is strong. TransIberica has often attracted many veterans and this brand new route is clearly a draw for those looking for something new.


2. New - The Accursed Race

The brand new race from Lost Dot was hotly anticipated as an exciting addition to the off-road calendar in the Balkans. We were drip fed with details about the race and the legend that inspired its name over the course of a few weeks until eventually all information was released, most notably its inclusion of a no-fly rule. While the location isn’t new territory for a Lost Dot event, the format of the race is; this is their first fixed-route off-road event. It will start and finish in Shkodër, Albania with 1,600km of riding and 37,000m of elevation gain.

The news of the no-fly rule has caused a stir amongst the community with many questioning how it could narrow the potential demographic of the start list given the additional time and money needed to travel overland. However, one aspect we’re excited to follow is the fostering of community around the race given that riders will likely spend a lot of time in each other’s company as their travel routes converge towards Albania.


3. Classic - Tour Te Waipounamu

Back for its third edition after a year’s hiatus, New Zealand’s roughest event traversing its South Island (Waipounamu) passes through many valleys and high country stations with plenty of hike-a-bike. Inspired by events such as the Highland Trail 550 and the Colorado and Arizona Trail Races in the USA, this is certainly a mountain bike race with the changeable weather to suit. The route is unique in the fact it can only be ridden in its entirety during the grand depart due to the inclusion of private land which the organiser has diplomatically arranged access for. The race runs twice every three years and can only be ridden during the event which means there are limited opportunities to tackle this route and be crowned king.

As the route never changes significantly, it’s the start list that is cause for anticipation. Since its inception in 2021, the results sheet has largely been dominated by Kiwi residents but there are hints of a handful of internationals making the trip for this crossing of the South Island.


4. New - Lakes ‘n’ Knödel

The Alps has long been a region with surprisingly few events given its a hub for adventure in Europe. However, thanks to the recent popularity of off-road bikepacking, it’s emerging in 2024 as one of the hotspots for inaugural events, including the Alps Divide, THE ALPS, 303 Lucerne and Léman Gravel Challenge. Alongside these events, Lakes ‘n’ Knödel is premiering in August from Salzberg area, Austria.

This brand new race that prioritises cycling, community and culinary art is dubbed as ideal for a rookie rider thanks to the plentiful accommodation and excellent food at the mountain refuges. The route is yet to be released but riders have been guaranteed some surprising loops. Additionally, discounts have been offered to riders who reach the start line via train and bike in an attempt to encourage greener travel to the event.


5. Classic - Pan Celtic Race

Since its inception in 2019, the Pan Celtic Race has been building up to its Magnum Opus for its fifth edition and the time has finally come! Riders who have qualified for this special year will have the opportunity to free-route through five of the six modern-day Celtic Nations before meeting the fixed-route grand depart in Douglas, Isle of Man to complete the full route alongside the other racers. All riders first tackle the notorious Isle of Man TT course before crossing the Irish Sea to Blackpool and heading north on a very Scottish adventure.

The Magnum Opus riders can start whenever and in whichever parcours they choose, their only restriction is they need to be in Douglas for the grand depart. Given the level of freedom the MO riders have to choose their own start points, start dates and routes, dotwatchers will need ten sets of eyes to keep track of these brave dots as they criss-cross through the Celtic Nations. Timing and planning have never been so important nor has an ultra-series had such a climactic conclusion.

This year marks the final chapter of the Pan Celtic Ultra but rest assured it’s not going anywhere, merely evolving as there are still still plenty of travelling and stories to tell.


6. New - VIA Race

The mystery team behind VIA chose to build intrigue around this new race across Europe, starting out with a series of cryptic posts on social media. With a focus on adventure, community and competition, VIA pays homage to the grassroots aspect of ultra distance racing by shunning the rule heavy handbooks that some races have come to abide by. The first ‘chapter’ of VIA will begin on the 20th July 2024, and entails 4000km of unsupported road racing across Europe. The route is steeped in history, following in the footsteps of Hannibal, the Carthaginian General who led his army and 38 elephants from Southern Iberia across mountain ranges to Southern Italy.

Where this edition finishes, the second edition will begin. In an unprecedented move by the organisers, VIA is a trilogy consisting of three chapters. In 2026, for the conclusion of the three chapter story, VIA will crown the most consistent rider of each category. With this in mind, we may well see some racers focussing on VIA as their main target for the next three years. A wide array of categories is intended to bolster inclusivity, offering something for everyone. These include Women, Men, Open, Pairs, Tandem Pairs and Paracyclists.


7. Classic - Dead Ends and Dolci

For the second edition of DEAD ENDS & dolci, riders will need a little more tyre than the first edition now the terrain is gravel and they will venture further off the beaten path in pursuit of the good stuff. The sibling of the everpopular DEAD ENDS & cake, DE&d is satiating the sweet tooths of Switzerland and beyond by rewarding them with an array of the sweet stuff at the checkpoint at the end of each of the five dead ends. Riders will need to route themselves between each of the checkpoints.

The event’s date has been moved to the end of summer in order to open up access to the higherlands. Over an approximate 500km, riders will tackle more than an Everesting on the variety of gravel roads and, of course, the countless Swiss switchbacks.


8. New - Gravel del Fuego

The world's most southern race will host its inaugural edition in mid-April deep in Chilean Patagonia. Following Across Andes’ Patagonia Verde in November, Chile’s gravel bikepacking offering has extended further south in Patagonia where riders will race from Puerto Natales southward to the end of the continent. The wilderness down here should not be underestimated, while the elevation and terrain are not overly challenging, no GPX track can communicate how windy life at the end of the world can be. Riders will be hoping for favourable winds but given the winding nature of the course, they’ll not be able to escape the winds entirely.

When racing at the end of the world resupplies can be few and far between, there some provisions will be offered at some checkpoints later in the race where food will be available to compensate for the remote and inhospitable nature of the race. In the Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), let’s hope the racing will be lit!


9. Classic - The Transcontinental Race

The definitive self-supported bicycle race across Europe is back in 2024 for a very special landmark edition. This year we welcome the tenth anniversary of The Transcontinental, which has grown exponentially in popularity and appeal since its inception in 2013. The Lost Dot team describe it as a beautifully hard bicycle race, simple in design but complex in execution. This is ingrained in Transcontinental history, and applies despite the route changing every year. In an exciting twist, TCRNo.10 is the first edition in the history of the race to not just cross Europe, but leave it. Transcending the continent of Europe altogether, the tenth edition seeks to unite Europe and Asia in one race.

Starting from the pavé of Roubaix, the route will be a relatively direct traverse of Europe, heading southeast via four checkpoints to the finish in Istanbul. The checkpoint locations are as follows: CP1: Mangartsko Sedlo, Slovenia; CP2: Bjelašnica, Bosnia; CP3: Prevallë, Kosovo; CP4: Çanakkale, Turkey. As before, this edition will test the limits of riders’ physicality, mental resilience and kit, encompassing arduous gravel parcours and mountain ranges in order to find the fastest person to race across Europe by bike.


10. New - Mother North

A brand new offering for those wanting to explore more of Scandinavia, Mother North is a 950km mixed terrain race with around 16,000m of elevation gain. Developed by one half of the team behind The Bright Midnight, the route promises to deliver on the beauty of Norway and its enchanting landscapes. Through the ever changing scenery, riders will experience the magic of the midnight sun via remote trails, mountain villages, ancient forests and pristine fjords. Gravel bikes are likely to be the tool of choice, with 42-45mm tyres advised.

The adventure starts on the 11th August in Lillehammer, a picturesque town surrounded by snow-capped mountains and tranquil lakes nestled in Norway’s Gudbrandsdalen valley. Route highlights include the winding mountain pass of Vindhellavegen, the glacial mountain village of Finse, and the famous hairpin turns of Myrdalsvingane.


11. Classic - Bohemian Border Bash Race

Since 2019 the Bohemian Border Bash Race has been following the ancient borderlands of Bohemia via the remnants of centuries-old road networks that still exist to this day. The Border Bash is back in 2024, and riders will once again circumnavigate Bohemia, crossing back and forth along national borders, and riding through Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. This is one for the gravel grimpeurs; with over 24,000m ascent packed into a 1300km route, it will be a serious test of resilience and endurance.

The team behind the BBBR have created a strong community vibe around the event, introducing a Gravel Camp in April alongside a multi-day gravel adventure in September. The main event takes place at the end of August, the focus being not just the thrill of the race but on the magnificent journey itself.


12. New - The Yorkshire Divide

This is a new one for 2024 which does what it says on the tin. As England's largest county, Yorkshire is home to 25 major rivers and some of the best riding terrain in the UK. The Yorkshire Divide connects 10 of Yorkshire's rivers via bridleways, drovers lanes, coffin roads, canal towpaths, reclaimed railway lines, forest tracks, moorland singletrack and quiet B-roads. Aptly named the Source to Sea Trail by the organiser, the trail will take riders from the Pennine moors, east to the Yorkshire coast and then over the Humber Estuary where the rivers flow into the body of the North Sea, before turning west back to the start line in Hebden Bridge.

This is a bikepacking adventure at heart, which explores the wide and varied landscape of Yorkshire. The trail is 909km with 12,950m ascent. The event takes place over the long bank holiday weekend at the end of May, with the finishers party happening on the 30th May.


13. Classic - Two Volcano Sprint

After a hiatus year, the iconic Two Volcano Sprint is BACK!

This year, the race organisers have moved away from a fixed route race and have set 8 punishing parcours for the riders to tackle from Mt Vesuvio to Mt Etna. The riders will discover many hidden gems of Southern Italy devouring its culinary delights whilst still tackling some of its hardest climbs.

Heading out in mid-October, a recurring theme of the 2VS race series is unpredictable weather and even more unpredictable climbing conditions!

This race was missed in 2023 and we're delighted to see it return with such an exciting twist. It's certainly back with a vengeance.