The Event

The Smuggler is back once again for 2020 and we’re making the 7th the biggest yet!

Bike Shed was so chuffed with the feedback received again last year, thank you so much to everyone who came and rode, it was an amazing day. This year, we have 3 thrilling routes tackling 40, 50 or 80 miles. The extra ‘Booty Climbs’ will be ever present, giving riders a chance to ride 2 optional hills for extra free beer back at HQ! They were a huge success last year with over 300 riders taking on the challenge and guzzling lots of free beer for their brave endeavours!

Secure your place for The Smuggler Sportive 2020 now!

Entry to the Smuggler Sportive is £30.00 plus a £1.00 British Cycling fee. This applies to all three routes. 

Online entry is via British Cycling’s online entry system. Please click on the ‘ENTER ONLINE’ button below, the process is very simple and totally secure.




Or if the button doesn’t appear for any reason click or copy this URL into your address bar:

Ride Overview

Starting and finishing from Barnstaple Square, ‘The Smuggler’ explores some of North Devon’s most epic roads and historic routes, many of which were exploited by smugglers of old – such as the breathtaking Lee Bay toll road that skirts high above the jagged coastline. As an added bonus and to help keep those legs spinning all riders will receive a hearty FREE BREAKFAST at Ride HQ before setting off!

Riders will be treated to jaw-dropping vistas, challenging climbs, epic descents and quiet roads – and of course, the finest North Devon food and hospitality will be dished out to fuel your engine.

The routes leave Barnstaple on the old road through Swimbridge, out past Filleigh, turning left by the cricket ground and climbing up to Exmoor via the Brayford climb. Turning left at the Poltimore Arms you eventually drop down to Simonsbath via the exhilarating snaking descent past the Cairn and into the village – where you’ll be glad to know a well-armed feed station will await to give the body and well earn boost!

At Simonsbath the routes will split, the 40 mile route heads back towards Barnstaple via some great roads, the 50 goes over Exmoor dropping down towards Lynton before rejoining the 80 for Lee Bay Toll, and the 80 heads to Exford and Dunkery before tackling the iconic Porlock Toll Road – a truly alpine style climb, with beautifully smooth tarmac and sweeping hairpins. This climb is far friendlier than the main road, with nowhere near the brutal steepness and a fraction of the traffic. It’s a climb where keen riders can really open up the throttle, pushing themselves through the sweeping hairpins, or equally riders can sit back into a smooth rhythm and soak up the incredible views. It really is a magical piece of road.

From Porlock, the 80 mile route heads over the top onto Countisbury towards Lynton via Watersmeet and a punchy climb through Barbrook. Once in Lynton the route takes you through ‘The Valley of the Rocks’ and onto the Lee Abbey Toll road – again a truly incredible piece of road, teetering and snaking on the edge of the cliffs – how they built this road in the first place is a mystery in itself! The next feed station is in a beautiful setting just above Lee Bay, a real smugglers lookout point where barrels of booze were dragged up the beach. No booze here, but plenty of food and drink to refuel the legs! Once you’ve nailed this climb it’s mostly downhill back to the finish line in Barnstaple – we promise!

Some extra surprises….

Due to their huge popularity, the ‘Booty Climbs‘ will be back – your chance to bag a few free drinks and swag for taking on some punchy extra climbs, on truly unique bits of tarmac. Incredibly we gave out over 300 free drinks last year as riders were cheered on by our very own Smuggling Pirates banging their cowbells!!

Bike Shed wants to deliver a fun day in the saddle for all riders, help you explore some truly amazing bits of tarmac, and send you home with a smile.

GPS calculated ascent for each ride is:

80 mile – 2707m (8881 ft)
50 mile – 1699m (5574 ft)
40 mile  – 1214m (3984 ft)


We hope you’ll join us in Barnstaple on June 7th.