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Why You Should Give The Pan Celtic Series a Try

By Charlotte Murray

Cycling comes in many forms, and some cyclists will forever remain true to their niche, be that mountain biking, road racing or their simple yet wonderful cycle commute. Adventure cycling is one of those niches, and if you never dip your toe in the adventure scene, then know that you may be missing out big time (or you could hate it, we’ll never know).

Fair enough though, if you don’t like sitting in your saddle for hours at a time, taking in the epic sights and sounds of a remote road steeped in history and culture, then this might not be the ride for you. The Pan Celtic Series is an ultra-distance, self-supported bike ride through the six Celtic nations of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of man. It’s a ride of epic proportions and will only run for five years, with two to go.

Pan-Celticism is a movement of political, social and cultural beliefs promoting cooperation and solidarity between the six named nations. It’s on this basis that the ride is formed. By traversing all six areas by bike, you get an experience of the beauty, culture and history of these places like no other. And if you’ve ever spent time in any of these places, you’ll know they’re welcoming and hospitable to all who pass through.

The Pan Celtic Series is a self-supported event, and if you’ve ever ridden a ‘bells and whistles’ type race with feed stations every few miles and all the ride support you could hope for, then self-supported might be way out of your comfort zone.

But it’s no more dangerous than riding your bike to the shop to pick up snacks. The journey will likely be much longer, you’ll probably be very tired, and you might be carrying a few more bits. Only a few small hurdles to overcome.

Bikepacking in Wales
If you never dip your toe in the adventure scene, then know that you may be missing out big time. © Profimedia

So, with the basics out of the way, what’s to love about this particular self-supported bike ride?

1. The route is different each year

This isn’t exactly new, and certain events will take on the challenge of devising a new route each year, but more often than not, events will follow a specified route. The Pan Celtic Series is in its third year as part of their five-year strategy. It has a somewhat philosophical outlook on its goal for each year’s event, and riders who complete all five rides will have been given the chance to explore the six nations deeply, in their natural beauty as well as their culture and history.

2. There’s an option for most people

If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely into riding bikes, and quite possibly into the idea of riding a self-supported adventure race. So it’s probable that there’s an option in the series that’s a possibility for you. There are three options, with the figures given being the distances for 2022:

  • The full route: 1,618 miles / 2,604km (65,850ft / 20,071m)
  • The shorter route: 1,020 miles / 1,642km (41,325ft / 12,596m)
  • The gravel rally: A 6-stage, single-day adventure, 80 miles and more than 10,000ft

3. You don’t have to be made of money

Some races attract elite riders, and those riders with sponsorship often have enough money or support to pay the bigger fees. Hence these ultra-distance, self-supported, adventure-style races can come at a cost.

The Pan Celtic Series of course isn’t free, but at the time of writing it was £425 to enter. If you want an event to be sustainable and to be able to return year-on-year, that does come at some cost to the punter.

Their website gives a decent list of all the things your hard-earned cash goes towards, from the usual free merch, to two ferry crossings (which are pricey at the best of times), as well as a bunch of other useful things I won’t bore you with.

4. Participation doesn’t start and end with the ride

Often you will pay for an event and you mostly get access to that event and little else. Those who partake in the Pan Celtic Series consider themselves part of a ‘clan’. They have gatherings throughout the year for merriment and of course to ride. It doesn’t hurt to be part of a community of people with whom you share great interests.

There are plenty of rides out there of a similar calibre, but each one certainly has something unique about it. The Pan Celtic Series is definitely unique and one to add to your calendar of adventure rides—if that’s what takes your fancy.