Riding in the world's biggest beach race

Conor Dunne heads to the Netherlands for Egmond-Pier-Egmond, the daddy of all beach races. How will he get on?

Clock10:59, Sunday 28th January 2024

Racing bikes can be tough at the best of times. Racing bikes on soft sand, with crazy crosswinds and over 3,000 riders, well that’s a different level of toughness altogether.

Welcome to the world of beach racing. It’s a big deal in Holland where there’s plenty of open coastline and long, stretches of relatively hard-packed sand – the ideal location for this niche discipline of racing. Conor Dunne is about to hit the start line and take on the pros for the win.

Bikes on the beach

Beach racing has been around since the early 1990s and steadily grown into mass participation races like the one Conor is about to tackle. He’s entered into Egmond Pier Egmond which is considered the biggest of them all and takes place along the coast of Egmond aan Zee in the Netherlands.


This race has seen the likes of Marianne Vos, Lucinda Brand, Sebastian Langeveld and Lars Boom hit the podium in the past. Could Conor's name be added to that list?

The actual race course couldn’t be simpler. Starting in Egmond an Zee it’s a 38km route in total that runs 19km south along the beach, before turning back to the start point. At places it’s 500m wide which means there should be plenty of opportunity for passing. Or being passed…

The bike for the job

Conor has opted to use his gravel bike for this one, as he considered this to be the most versatile bike going. He’ll be riding the Canyon Grizl with 50mm wide Pirelli tyres. As the sandy surface he’s racing on is relatively soft he’s opted to go for absolute minimum tyre pressure at around 10psi on a tubeless set up. Even though he’s virtually on the rim, the threat of puncturing should be pretty much zero as hopefully there’s nothing sharp poking out of the soft sand.

One of the issues with riding on sand though is the gritty, salty mess it can throw up which can invariably get caught around the chain. In a bid to prevent this from happening Conor’s waxed his chain with Silca’s chain wax to try and keep a clogged chain to a minimum.

As he looks around the startline the question is whether he’s a little under-biked for this challenge. The majority of other competitors seem to be on beach bikes - custom hardtails with a minimum of 60mm tyre width. What do they know that he doesn't? Watch the video to see how he got on.

Watch on YouTube


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