The Ekoi Stone Circle – a 215km two wheeled adventure through history
If you join us for the Ekoi Stone Circle, you won’t just be taking part in the first edition of this unique gravel event, you’ll be riding an adventure through history and passing some iconic landmarks as you race the summer solstice sun.
Here’s a taste of the rich history to expect….
The Start and Finish: Old Sarum
You’ll be rolling out at dawn of the longest day from this site of an Iron Age hill fort that was established around 400 BCE. It was then occupied shortly after the Roman conquest of Britain in 49 CE and became known as Sorviodunum.
William the Conqueror saw the strategic value of Old Sarum and fortified it which then led to two cathedrals being built on the site.
In the 1220’s, Old Sarum was abandoned by the clergy and the cathedral moved to its present site in Salisbury. This began the demise of Old Sarum and, although Henry VIII removed its administrative status in 1514 and the site was completely abandoned, it continued to send members to Parliament until 1832 as a notorious Rotten Borough.
With just 13km ridden and the solstice sun still low on your left shoulder, look right and, just metres away, is one of Britain’s most iconic and mysterious landmarks – Stonehenge.
Together with nearby Avebury, Stonehenge forms the heart of a World Heritage Site that encompasses a unique concentration of prehistoric monuments.
The earliest henge was built around 5000 years ago with the stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BCE. Exactly how this was done and the sites purpose is still a matter on intense research and debate.
For druids and New-Agers, witnessing the summer solstice at Stonehenge is a deeply spiritual experience and, as you roll past, we’re sure you fail to notice a very special atmosphere.
Imber Ranges and village
Forming the northern edge of the MOD’s land on Salisbury Plain, the Imber Ranges will offer you fast, rolling and open gravel. It’s time to find a group, get in the wheels, stick it in the big ring and get some kilometres in the bag.
As you roll through 56km though, look south and 3km away, you may just be able to see the tower of St Giles church in the “Ghost Village” of Imber.
Residents of the village were evacuated in December 1943 to allow US troops to use it as a training site to prepare them for the street to street fighting they would encounter after the D-Day landings.
To this day it remains the property of the MOD, spookily unoccupied, preserved in time and only open to visitors on a few select days each year.
Westbury White Horse
At just over 65km ridden and high on a ridge-line, you won’t actually be able to see this landmark but, on the flanks of the steep grass uplands to your right, is one of the magnificent chalk horses that are carved into the landscape of Wiltshire.
The Westbury White Horse is one of the most iconic and is thought to have been cut in the late 1600’s. It marks the site of Bratton Camp – an Iron Age hill fort built over 2000 years ago.
It’s fitting that the section of the Stone Circle traversing current MOD land is bookended by the ancient hill-forts of Old Sarum and Bratton Camp.
King Alfred’s Tower
With 100km in your legs and a welcome feed-station to enjoy, King Alfred’s Tower is the point where the 215km and 135km routes diverge.
Built in the 1760’s to commemorate the end of the Seven Year’s War against France and the accession of George III, it was erected near the site of Egbert’s Stone, where it is believed that Alfred the Great rallied the Anglo-Saxons in 878 before the Battle of Edington, where he defeated the Great Heathen Army led by the Dane Guthrum.
You may not have a Danish hoard to vanquish but, with 115km still to ride, you may have to do some rallying of your own!
You’ll be 187km deep into the ride by this point and high on the chalk uplands of the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Hopefully the views will be more than enough distraction from your aching body and, with just a few climbs left to tackle, you’ll soon be descending back to Old Sarum and the finish.
Below your tyres carved into the hillside though are the Fovant Badges. These were created by soldiers garrisoned nearby and waiting to go to France during the First World War.
Nine of the original twenty remain, they are scheduled ancient monuments and recognised by the Imperial War Museum and war memorials.
There are now just 100 places remaining for this pioneering first year event … Are you joining us?