We’re super excited to announce the entry for The Smuggler Sportive 2020 is now live, we would like this year to be bigger and better than before and it would be amazing if you could join us in North Devon for another successful year of The Smuggler Sportive!




Need a New Year’s resolution? Look no further! The Smuggler Sportive has been said to be one of the most picturesque sportives in the UK. Not to mention the free breakie and beer, plus the option to earn more of the sweet amber nectar with the ever-popular Booty Climbs!

This is what the Smugglers of 2019 had to say:

Neil Parker
It was my first-time riding with you guys, great event, excellent marshalls and brilliant feed stations (really needed the 2nd one), Thank you to everyone involved. No wind for next year though please!! 😁. We will definitely be back.

Heather Cooper
I thought the smuggler was a brilliant event. It was so well run and very friendly. The route was clearly signposted, the feed stations were the best I’ve experienced and a half of ale at the end was a welcome homecoming. It was a tough ride but beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks

Steve Baker
As usual a challenging route (50 for me) well organised, well marshalled and feed stations that were just excellent, especially valley of the rocks one, more like a 5-star Buffett! What a well-supported event with riders from all over. Only one downer: can you do something about that bloody headwind! 😊 cheers guys for putting in the effort, it is appreciated.

Andrew Pearson
It was my first organised cycle event and despite the weather I absolutely loved it. The organisation was brilliant, clear signs and marshals in all the crucial places. The food stops were great especially the fantastic flapjacks and Nutella rolls!! Well done everyone that had a hand in the organisation. All being well I will be back next year. Let’s hope the weather is kinder!

Keith White
Just a quick note to say one big thank you for Sunday, it was an awesome ride and well organised. Although I have competed all my life, this was my first sportive, and what an introduction to the world of sportives. From start to finish all of you were extremely friendly and helpful and let me assure you I will be back next year. Once again thank you for a great day.

We hope to see you at the start line in June!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Bike Shed team.

Save the date – Sunday 7th June 2020!

With the year drawing to a close, it’s time to set some goals for 2020. Whether you’re a seasoned Smuggler or whether you’ve just started cycling, it’s a great way to get out and explore your surrounding area while providing a host of other health-related benefits.

We are excited to announce that The Smuggler Sportive is coming back for 2020. Entries will be going live within the next few weeks (late December) and we would love it if you could join us in North Devon for another successful year of The Smuggler Sportive!

Save the date – Sunday 7th June 2020!

Fear not, for 2020 we’re keeping the stunning route options, including those optional leg tickling booty climbs and Strava KOM challenges.

Also returning will be the inclusion of the pre-ride brekkie to fuel yourself and post-ride beer to relax those poor legs!

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what a few of you had to say after this years event… 


Guys, thanks for all your hard work today, the Smuggler is probably the hardest Sportive in Devon but it can’t be beaten for a route and the feed stations. Bonus, all for a good cause. May the “Force” be with you 👍


I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful planed sportive, excellent food, well organised great day apart from the weather, it was a tough ride but we made it in 1 piece.


Thank you for yet another well-organised Smuggler. Everyone who helped set up the event helped on the day in whatever facility, food stops, marshalling, motorbike support, medics, bike maintenance, sign on, etc deserves recognition. I really appreciate all that you do and so pleased that your chosen charity gets a nice little sum for their coffers.


We will keep you posted when the entries become live on the British Cycling website!


Until then keep those legs spinning!

Riders’ Brief 2019

This ‘riders’ brief’ contains all the crucial information you need for the day. Please read it carefully.

Bike Shed’s SIXTH Smuggler sportive is ready to roll, the grand ship is primed and set to weigh anchor on June 2nd, setting sail from Bike Shed Barnstaple’s fine shores.  

First and foremost, a huge thank you for entering The Smuggler, again we are so chuffed with the response the event has had with over 500 entering online. Bike Shed and our charity partners FORCE Cancer Charity are very grateful.

We can’t wait to welcome you to Smuggler Ride HQ on Barnstaple Square, and show you a few of our favourite tarmac gems. In our opinion, North Devon & Exmoor have some of the finest cycling roads in the UK. We hope you enjoy them, even if they are quite lumpy!

Remember this is charity sportive, with all profits going directly to our charity partner, FORCE Cancer Charity. All Bike Shed hope in return is you have a great day on the bike and you try to raise a few pennies – FORCE rely entirely on great people like you to keep their essential services going. Please dig deep.

A massive thank you to our brilliant event partners: Taw Velo Cycling Club and Hell Cats Cycling Club for all the marshals, Barnstaple Town Management, Country Life Brewery for their fine ales, North Devon Council, Crankhouse Coffee for the Strava prizes, and FORCE Cancer Charity.

Finally, cross your digits Mother Nature wakes up in a happy mood on Sunday, it’s looking good at the minute so do your best sun-dance.  

See you on Sunday, get those feet up!



This is located on Barnstaple Square at EX32 8LS, all rides start & finish here.
Event Registration is located in the event marquee.
Ride HQ will be clearly sign posted from the two event car parks – both within a 5 min walk/cycle to HQ. There are toilets on the square.

Barnstaple Square
EX32 8LS
Tel: 01271 328 628


There are two car parks on offer for the event, with FREE parking all day with no time restrictions.
Please use the Google maps links below to confirm your chosen location.
Once parked please follow signs to RIDE HQ.

Park School
EX32 9AX

Seven Brethren Bank
EX31 2AP

* Be careful if you have bikes on the roof as there is a 2.5m height restriction at North Devon Leisure Centre!



Registration / Sign-On will be located inside THE BIKE SHED SHOP from MIDDAY until 17:00.
You can also enter here in the shop at the ‘on-the-day’ price of £35.00.

Registration / Sign-On will be located inside the EVENT MARQUEE at RIDE HQ on Barnstaple Square, again, you can enter here in the shop at the ‘on-the-day’ price of £35.00.

Please be advised: If you are able, signing on for your ride on Saturday afternoon is highly recommended. It will save you time on Sunday morning when the bulk of your cycling-comrades will arrive. If this isn’t possible of course Sunday morning is fine, just allow extra time before your start time. This should take around 10 minutes including any queuing, plus a few minutes to zip tie your number in place!

SATURDAY Registration open: 1200 – 1700.
SUNDAY Registration: 0700 – 0900.

  • Registration desks will list riders surnames alphabetically, with separate areas for each route.
  • Find your name and grab your rider number and cable ties (reg staff will tell you how to fix your number to your bike if needed)
  • Sign your name in the box next to your details.
  • Any riders requiring an ‘entry on the day’, please go to the relevant registration desk.

Entry on the day is £35.00 for all routes.

  • PLEASE NOTE: CASH ONLY. There are cash machines very close by.
  • ‘On-the-day’ prices will apply both on Saturday and Sunday. 


Our superb event catering is again conjuring up a FREE breakfast for all cyclists from 0700. There will be bowls of creamy porridge, packed with slow release energy to kick start that engine and keep the legs spinning all-day-long. We’ll also have bacon rolls, because there’s no better way to start a Sunday! There will be steaming mugs of tea and coffee on offer too.

If you want more of a caffeine boost, the Bike Shed Café and our crew of baristas will be banging out the finest espresso.

You or your family will be able to buy breakfast & lunch too, and the café will be serving our top food and cakes all day.



With THREE routes on offer at The Smuggler we have devised a start window for each ride, this is aiming to ensure all riders finish within a certain time span – both for safety and so you get back to enjoy some well-earned food! As in previous years, there is a limited amount of food at each station and at Ride HQ, we try to prepare accordingly but cannot guarantee late comers a fully stocked banquet. If you’re an early-bird, please be considerate to those who are yet to arrive, don’t fill your pockets just because it’s there.

All routes are challenging rides, with plenty of climbing to give those legs a test –  North Devon doesn’t have much flat tarmac we’re afraid to say – it makes up for it with its stunning scenery though! All routes will be clearly signed so there’s little danger of getting lost!
As with planning any route of this size, there is a small chance of last-minute route amendments due to unforeseen road closures. We provide GPS routes, but please use these as a guide only. Follow the signs! 

Take your time, soak in the views, enjoy the food at the feed stations (eat every hour as a rule of thumb) and drink regularly. Keeping well fuelled is absolutely the key to keeping those legs turning and maintaining energy levels – no gas, no go!

We will be starting you in waves of approx 30-40 riders, with a 5 min gap in between. There will be a full safety briefing at the start line – please listen carefully.

Please make every effort to stick to these start times, especially the 80-mile riders.

Start: Between 08:00 – 08:30

Between 08:15 – 08:45

Between 08:30 – 09:00


* Please be very vigilant for signs when returning into Barnstaple.
* No riders will be able to start before 08:00, we expect riders to be on the road by 09:00 at the latest.
* Please ride carefully over the start line, no rush!
* Remember you are on public roads, normal rules and the highway code applies.
* Any rider UNDER 18 must fill in a parental consent form confirming you can take part.
* Any rider UNDER 16 must be accompanied by a parent.



To keep the engine fuelled there are finely stocked feed stations on all routes.
The 50 & 80-mile rides have two, and the 40-mile route will have one.

These stations will be brimming with energy food such as bananas, flapjack, energy drink, water, tea & coffee. There will be sandwiches at the 2nd feed station on the 50 & 80-mile routes – all staffed by our friendly volunteers, please be nice to them!

All stations will be clearly marked on routes. Make use of them – staying fuelled on a big ride is absolutely crucial and will ensure you finish with a smile, not a grimace.


40, 50 & 80 MILE:
Exmoor Forest Inn

LEE ABBEY SHELTER @ 58 miles (80 mile route) & 33.8 miles (50 mile route)
The Shelter above Lee Abbey beach.



These are the emergency numbers for the day in case of injury or serious mechanical problem. Please get out your mobiles now and save them:

They will also be on the back of your rider number but PLEASE SAVE THEM INTO YOUR PHONE NOW.



There are two medic-bike motorbikes roaming the routes, a further support Motorbike with inner tubes and supplies, and a permanent medic based at RIDE HQ.



The roads on the route are fantastic but there are some tricky spots, especially steep fast descents ready to catch you out, however good a rider you are. No crazy overtakes or kamikaze descending PLEASE.

All the danger spots will be marked clearly with CAUTION & SLOW SIGNS. Please keep your beady eyes peeled and do what the SIGNS AND OUR MARSHALS SAY – it’s for your safety. Please ride safely, remember this is not a race and the roads are open to traffic.


A crossing at the bottom of a steep descent. Take extra care and listen to the marshals.

This is a steep and twisty descent, PLEASE take it slowly. No heroics please as it will bite you in the arse, either that or a car coming the other way will. There is also a cattle grid near the bottom which you must be aware of. TAKE IT EASY AND HEED THE SIGNS!

Another rapid descent, take special care when coming into Lynmouth for pedestrians in the road!

The descent off Exmoor into Challacombe is very fast, and at the bottom narrows near the Black Venus pub, please take care.


The booty climbs are back by popular demand, over 400 riders took on the upward challenge again last year!

For added spice, we lay down the gauntlet of TWO extra optional climbs, the reward for your bravery is golden pirate booty! Redeemable for FREE beer or soft drink of your choice at the finish, plus the undisputed bragging rights back at the bar.

The first is Lynmouth Hill, a 25-30% brute into Lynton. The positive is that it saves you approx 7 miles, not taking the longer route and the tough Barbrook climb.

The second is a climb to Slattenslade, deep in the woods off the Lee Bay Toll – a real Smugglers hideaway. A steep, tough start with a narrow, windy finish.

The start of the climbs will be clearly marked and a Smuggler will dish out contraband gold beer tokens at the top. Stash them deep in your jersey and keep them safe – you’ve earnt that beer!


Just to spice things up a little more there are two Strava sections on the route. These are the climb out of Brayford called Beara Hill (all routes) & The Porlock Toll climb (80-mile route).

The start & finish of these Strava sections will be clearly marked. You must be already signed up to Strava and have your chosen device activated.

Any rider having a crack at these sections and submitting a time will be entered into the Smugglers raffle for the chance to win 5 limited edition CRANKHOUSE COFFEE x SMUGGLER bags of coffee. The coffee is amazing so worth a go.

Your segment must be submitted via email by the following Sunday.


Bike Shed will have mobile mechanic vans roaming the routes to help you out should your bike have a paddy.

The guys will do their very best to repair your bike on the spot and get you back on the road. Some big repairs may be tricky and obviously, we will have to charge if any parts are needed.

All the feed stations will be stocked with spare inner tubes to buy, as well as a track pump.
There will also be a mechanic on hand at RIDE HQ.

On your joyous and triumphant return to HQ, there will be bike racking available so hang up the pedals and to head straight to the bar!

Simon Lacey from Country Life Brewery has brewed up our very own ‘Smugglers Ale’. We hope you hang around and sink a few ales with us. You will have earnt it!

Our event catering will be serving up some fantastic food options to satisfy the deepest of hunger and refuel the body.

The wood-fired pizza specialists from Pig & Olive will be on the square with their mobile pizza oven! A timely nod to the final day of the Giro D’Italia!





Bike Shed and The Smuggler Team.

The Smuggler Raises £13k for Force Cancer Charity

The 5th edition of The Smuggler Sportive has proudly generated a huge money chest for charity again this year, raising a massive £13,000 for Force Cancer Charity. 

Bike Shed would like to say thank you to all the contributors to the event, including Simon @ Country Life Brewery, Exmoor Forest Inn, Claremont Marquees, all the folk at the NDDC offices, and Porlock estates who help make it all possible. Our full contributor list is available in our recent ‘special thanks‘ post. 


In the photo below is Sarah Daniels from the Force Cancer Charity, receiving the cheque from The Bike Shed in the company of Simon – Country Life Brewery, and Jamie and Becky from local cycling club Taw Velo


Booty Climbs & Strava Competitions!

As before, The Smuggler Sportive will be incorporating a few sneaky additions to your ride, just to add a little spice to proceedings!

Our ever popular Strava Segment competition will be live along the route. 

We’ll be offering prizes for the fastest male & female riders along the following 2 segments:

1: Beara Hill Short
2: Porlock Toll Road


Upload your ride to Strava and email a link to the activity to before the 13th June!

If you’re the fastest man or woman to ascend either of these brutes on the day, you’ll have earned yourself a £30.00 voucher for Bike Shed plus a bag of THE BEST coffee in town courtesy of Crankhouse Coffee. All submissions will also be entered into a prize draw to win additional bags of Crankhouse Coffee’s incredible brew. 

– – – – – –

Also, our famed optional ‘Booty Climbs’ await anyone feeling strong: 

They will be clearly marked on the day and will be lined with Smuggling Pirates ringing their cowbells and cheering you on! Upon reaching the top, you’ll be showered with praise and handed your booty in the form of a gold token! Stuff it in your jersey and redeem it for a free drink back at ride HQ upon your return, where Country Life Brewery will be on hand to load you with post-ride nutritional amber-nectar!

Last year we gave away over 300 free drinks to riders who took on the challenge. Amazing effort! 


Smuggler Sportive

Tom’s Top Tips: Tom Kirk of Custom Cycle Coaching


We’re a little over 3 weeks away from the big day, and our good friend Tom Kirk from Custom Cycle Coaching has been kind enough to share some of his pearls of wisdom with you; our Smuggling Swashbucklers!

No matter whether you are an experienced sportive rider or the Smuggler is your first sportive you can look forward to a great challenge, whatever route you choose. The purpose of this guide is to focus on a few last minute tips to make your day more enjoyable.

1: Whatever route you have signed up to, it’s important to have ridden for close to your planned duration in training first. If your goal time for the 50 mile route is 3h for example try to build up to a 3h ride in the weeks beforehand, this will probably be at an easier pace than you’ll ride on the day but it’s good to get used to being on the bike that long.

2: The Smuggler is a hilly route, so alongside the distance the climbs are the main challenge. Include plenty of hills in your training leading up to the event, practicing pacing your effort so you’re able to finish strongly and keep going over the top. If you live in a flat area or do a lot of turbo riding you can include some big gear work to simulate the effect of hills. Include 3-4 5min harder efforts pushing a big gear with your hands on the top of the bars as if you were climbing and concentrate on remaining relaxed, smooth, controlled breathing and maintaining a cadence (pedal speed) of over 70 revolutions per minute.

3: With hills come descents! If you’re not confident descending fast, first of all address your bike fit (are you stable and in control of the bike?) and cornering skills. Keep your body relaxed and do your braking before the corners so you can concentrate on taking a smooth line through the bends. A great tip is to look where you want to go (not at that tree or oncoming car!), as the bike will generally follow!

4: Especially in the longer distance rides, nutrition can be very important. You will be using a lot of energy and if it’s hot, losing a lot of fluid through sweating too, so don’t be tempted to skip the feed stations to save seconds as if you run out of energy later it can be hard to recover. It’s important to practice eating and drinking on the bike before the sportive itself and that is also a great way to find out what suits your body. If you have a favourite energy drink or food it’s a good idea to start off with that, as the last thing you want in a tough sportive is to find out something doesn’t agree with your stomach!

5: Finally, make sure you’re well rested coming into the event. We’re getting close to the big day now and it can be tempting to try to really push the last minute training but rest is important too! Your last long ride should be at least a week before then start to reduce the length and intensity of your sessions to arrive on the start line rested and ready to smash it!

Good luck!
Tom Kirk, Custom Cycle Coaching

If you’re yet to get your entry in, Enter Now and get it locked in today.. places are going fast!

6 Weeks To Go – 6 Top Tips – Bike Shed Bianchi Team Manager

6 weeks out and 6 manager’s specials, things to consider now.

1. Bike; get it looked over, serviced and order in some brake pads and perhaps new bar tape. On a big, target event, you’ll be spitting nails if a mechanical issue gets the best of you. It’s surprising how psychologically uplifting new bar-tape for the big day can be.

2. Kit; work out what you’d like to wear in different riding conditions well in advance. Make sure you have mitts/gloves/gilet/armwarmers and pre-ride kit all in mind; do you need a casquette for under helmet if it rains? Check the ratchets and cleats on shoes too. Also, sun cream; it could be a long day out there, get protected, and if you sweat lots, get ‘no-tears’ kids factor 50, it won’t run into your eyes and sting for the last 20km!

3. Tyres; check now and be prepared to change for new rubber for your big day, again it is horrible to leave things to chance. Make sure your mini-pump/C02 canisters are working and ready to go too!

4. Practical things; how are you and your friends getting to HQ? Look at the logistics for the day and preceding days, don’t have a panic the day before.

5. Kit bag/mini tool kit, make sure you have one of each. Extras – wet wipes, buy some, they’re invaluable. Get some latex gloves or petrol station gloves, brilliant for the messier jobs, should you need to do something, clean hands are a must!

6. Prepare for misadventure! Are you happy in changing an inner tube/puncture? If not, don’t rely on others. Carry ID. The Smuggler is a hilly route, could be quite lonely at times so be prepared for what’s ahead, you’ll enjoy it way more.

Should you need any last minute kit, accessories or just some kind hearted advice, our partners at any of the Bike Shed stores will be happy to help.


Ahoy Smugglers…

Sportive Photo’s pictures are now live on their home page, some cracking shots in there. Search your number and away you go. If you didn’t have a number search using 999. Hope you find some goodies.


Ahoy there Smugglers… 

We’ve added a cracking new 40 mile route that will follow the 50 & 80 mile rides out to Simonsbath. After a hot brew and filling your pockets with food it’s back to Barnstaple via Challacombe and Loxhore. A really fun ride home with loads of great downhill.

The Smuggler routes were born from wanting to showcase some of North Devon’s hidden tarmac gems, it’s about exploring some truly unique bits of road and having fun, with some great food and a few beers at the end thrown into the mix. Hopefully sending you home with a big smile.

The 50 & 80 mile routes are without doubt challenging, with a solid chunk of climbing, but also very achievable with some truly breathtaking stretches awaiting you. The Porlock and Lee Bay Tolls are right up there with the finest bits of cycling tarmac in the UK.


The 50 & 80 mile rides will have feedstations at Simonsbath & Lee Abbey (in an incredible spot above the beach). The 25 mile feedstation will be at The Railway Cafe in Bideford. 

Total ascent for each ride is:

80 mile – 2707m
50 mile – 1698m
40 mile  – 1214m
25 mile – 280m

As last year there will be the added twist of snagging contraband on the ‘booty climbs’ notching free beer & drinks from extra climbs and miles. Last year we gave out 138 FREE BEERS!! 

If anyone has any questions on anything to do with the routes just give us a shout.

Happy riding, see you on the road!




If you use Mapmyride click on ‘Add them as a friend.’ If not Google Maps below. 

The Smuggler: 80 Mile Route:

The Smuggler: 50 Mile Route:

The Smuggler: 40 Mile Route:

The Smuggler: 25 Mile Route:



25 MILE ROUTE:  25-Mile-Route

40 MILE ROUTE:  40-Mile-Route

50 MILE ROUTE:  50-Mile-Route

80 MILE ROUTE:  80-Mile-Route

Bike Shed rides out to recce route….


The Bike Shed team hit the road and rode ‘The Smuggler’ routes, checking a few of the tasty climbs out, and snap a few piccies to show off what’s in store for you guys on the day of the event.

North Devon was looking it’s very best, we don’t really have to sell how breathtaking the roads are on this ride – the pictures do that far better than our waffling words can.

The 40, 50 & 80 mile 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 40, 50 & 80 mile 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 joining the 80 for Lee Bay Toll, and the 80 mile heading to Exford and Dunkery before tackling the iconic Porlock Toll – 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 look out point where barrels of booze were dragged up the beach. No booze here, but plenty of food to refuel the legs! Once you’ve nailed this climb it’s mostly downhill back to the finish line Barnstaple – we promise!

Some extra surprises….

As we did last year there will be a few extra ‘Booty Climbs’ thrown into the mix, rewarding any riders up for challenge with free drinks for their effort – and Smugglers banging those cow bells to drag your bikes up the tarmac.

We are so grateful of your support as are our partners FORCE Cancer Charity and North Devon Hospice. Any money you raise makes a real difference to these charities and the local people of North Devon.

See you on the road. Chapeau. Ooooarrrr!

The Bike Shed Team.

Paul summits the Lee Bay toll Recce for an extra punchy climb through Slattenslade Quick no sign of the toll man! Start of the toll road... Heading towards Lee Bay Toll Valley of the Rocks, wait for me... The stunning Valley of the Rocks The easier way to get from Lynmouth to Lynton Blue steel from Paul Views over Lynmouth Bay Paul Belton showboating at Simonsbath Simonsbath Bridge