BHF South Downs way 100 – how tough?

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  • BHF South Downs way 100 – how tough?
  • Premier Icon saracendan
    Subscriber

    Anybody had an experience of this? Thinking about doing the 100 mile event in July as my first “long” distance event. going to start gradually increasing ride distance over the next few months as part of a structured training programme but wondered if anyone had any other training tips or recommendations on what to take/eat or on places to stay the night before and after? I’m planning on riding with a couple of guys who are similar in terms of pace/ fitness as myself and using my trek sawyer (fully rigid). All advise welcome!

    colin1265
    Member

    Hi
    I did it back in the summer with the bhf, totally loved it. If anything will make a difference from it being a great day or a total shocker it is the weather.
    I was lucky enough to have a dry spell the week before and lovely sunshine on the day. Give me ten mins and I will dig out a great website for you.
    I liked it so much, I am planning the double next summer 😉

    mikey74
    Member

    I did the 65 mile one, ending in Brighton, mainly because it was my first experience of such an event. We were chatting to one of the stewards at the end of our ride and they were saying that the vast majority of riders who signed up to do the 100 were actually stopping at the 65 mile point.

    The trouble we had was that there were two of us (including myself) who were pretty fit, and could keep a reasonable pace, whereas the other guy was lagging behind alot, and it became real pain in the backside.

    In the end, I just went ahead and rode by myself for the last few miles.

    I found no training was needed, as long as you are someone who rides regularly.

    I was on a 2004 S-works Enduro.

    I’d like to do it but the horror of doing it in the wet does scare me… If I do I’ll be going straight from my usual 20 miles and a few thousand feet of climbing of woodland singletrack and DH with the odd bit of linking downland XC with no proper training because I’m not a fan of long steady rides. I’ve walked it about 10 years ago so it would be nice to ride the whole length and see how fast is possible for me.

    Premier Icon saracendan
    Subscriber

    Colin1265 – website info would be great,thanks.

    Mikey – how long we’re you riding for to clock the 65 mile mark?

    I ride distances of 25 miles normally and manage around 50 road miles with full on 2.4 mtb tyres without any training but never covered 100. I’ve spent around 7 hours in the saddle around the peaks and still been ok to ride the next day, it’s just that mental barrier of 100 straight off!

    mikey74
    Member

    Mikey – how long we’re you riding for to clock the 65 mile mark?

    I think it was around 8 hours, but stopping to wait for our mate kind of slowed things down a bit. I felt fine at the end, and that was without any training, other than general riding.

    Premier Icon saracendan
    Subscriber

    Hmmmm – 8 hours for 65 means 100 is going to be in excess of 12 hours then. Not being funny but how would you rate yourself in terms of fitness ( from the sound of it we may be fairly similar)? What sort of times were the slower 100 riders clocking?

    mikey74
    Member

    I was pretty fit: Doing 30 mile mtb rides every weekend, and going to the gym during the week.

    To be honest, I’m not sure about the 100 mile times. I wouldn’t worry about it too much: it’s a pretty social event and you can always sign up to the 100 and stop at the 65 if you are pooped.

    As others have said, my biggest concern, if I was to do it again, would be the weather: We had perfect weather, but rain would have turned it into a nightmare.

    colin1265
    Member

    Everything you will need on here

    http://www.bikedowns.co.uk

    Great website. It’s about pacing yourself and realising your limits. Rather strangely I prefer to do any distance rides Mtb or road on my own. I feel it reduces the probability of on route dramas, mechanicals etc.
    with regards to fitness, there are some long old drags, nothing technical apart from a few roots and a couple if very fast, heart in mouth descents on very rutted chalk paths.

    The scenery was quite simply spectacular, lots ( about 90 ) gates, many suicidal sheep.
    Scariest bit of the ride was trying to get through a gate with two bloody great bulls having a full on fight through a fence about 10 ft away, I didn’t want to die that way.
    I have the gpx file of the route if you want it ?

    Premier Icon nuke
    Subscriber

    I wouldn’t get to hung up on fitness if you ride fairly regularly anyway. Water is no really problem, it’s fairly well signposted and they’ll be a good sense of camaraderie if you doing it with the BHF (Doing it with the BHF will also help with route finding). You’ll have to carry your own food but that’s not so bad.

    The biggest issue IMO for most riders is the length of time in the saddle if you’re not use to it…those aches and pains in your knees and back after 3 hours could well be all out agony by 9 hours! Unlike thirst or hunger, it’s not always easy to solve pain on a long ride. Basically, get some good long time in the saddle in to nail the bike and rider setup.

    As mentioned, doing it with the BHF is great for camaraderie but the negative is your consigned to do it on one specific day; if the forecast is wet weather it’ll make a tough ride hellish (Few years back I did the 65miler with the BHF in the rain, headwind & mud…toughest ride I ever did, even tougher than the 100miler I’ve since done)

    colin1265
    Member

    As Nuke said, its all about the weather. My 100 was a snippit under 10 hours, an Ironman riding friend did it a couple of weeks later, 17 hours and totally destroyed his bike !
    If you dont mind the rain and need a full component refit,next consideration is the wind direction as most of the ride is v exposed.

    Premier Icon johnnyc
    Subscriber

    This map is excellent if you don’t use gpx devices-
    http://www.harveymaps.co.uk/acatalog/South_Downs_Way.html

    Your hands will be sore on a rigid bike after 12 hour.

    crosshair
    Member

    I did the Maxx Exposure night time ride on the SDW (the other way, Beachy Head bach to QECP)this year.
    I was riding 20 mile road-rides 3 times a week and had done the Breacon Beast earlier in the year.
    My first shock came when I rode down into a valley bottom expecting a 20 mile checkpoint….FAT CHANCE! What felt like 20 miles to me was actually about 10 (I’d knackered my speedo taking the front wheel off to put it in the car.) It rides a lot further than it is if you see what I mean. We were lucky this year to have a rare tailwind for that direction. It also stayed dry but that chalk must be like ice in the wet.
    I’m planning on going back next Spring to ride it in daylight….might even attempt the double.
    I also got lost and added 9.7 miles onto the 80 odd that we were meant to ride. That should be less problem in daylight 🙂

    DrP
    Member

    Have a peek at my write up Here….

    Was alone and unsupported – had nice weather for it too, which helped.
    I would have stopped about halfway (near home) if it was muddy – would have been too much effort as gets proper claggy!

    Planning a few training rides over the SDW route early next year, with intentions for something big in summer….

    DrP

    As has been said, if it’s sh1t weather then you’ll be facing sections of claggy trails with proper sketchy chalk skittishness. Plus the wind/rain in your chops with no cover. Not fun.

    And if it’s baking, then remember you’re up on a ridge with nowhere to hide. The sun is bad enough, but all that reflecting back off the chalk can also get to you after a while too.

    But get the conditions right and it’s an awesome place to clock some miles.

    winston
    Member

    Don’t underestimate the SDW as its about 9000ft of height gain over the 100 mile length and a lot of that is steep. I’ve done both the two day and one day ride and the SDW in a day is significantly harder – and thats without the weather to contend with. As other have said if its windy and wet you might as well not bother as the thing will be an ordeal.

    But if you get the sun its one of the best rides in the country…except for the bluddy gates and pedestrians (I know I know they have every right to be there…but there are so many of them!!)

    Premier Icon johnnyc
    Subscriber

    Your hands will be sore on a rigid bike after 12 hour.

    Yep; especially in summer when tractors chew up stretches of double track which then bakes rock solid.

    The flint surface is quite good at ripping tyres too; carry some tyre boots to repair any rips. Old toothpaste tubes are pretty handy for this.

    Nothing technically challenging in the ride, but it is indeed awesome, especially riding down into eastbourne at the end of the day.

    b r
    Member

    As long as you can regularly ride 40 mile’s off-road you’ll be fine, but its the weather that decides what ride you’ll have.

    Premier Icon saracendan
    Subscriber

    Thanks for all your input – just trying to find a willing volunteer now to act as support and drive. One final question though – did anybody ride 100 miles in training or just rock up and give it a go on the day?

    colin1265
    Member

    I had done several 100+ plus on the road, which I always feel is harder as you are pedaling at a constant cadence for longer.
    Even with the stops, I think there was 3 or 4, when you break it down into bitesize chunks, its not too bad if you get your head around it ( and if it doesn’t rain ! )

    Premier Icon nuke
    Subscriber

    Not essential but I did some fairly high mile rides before trying the full SDW (Not the same levels of ascent though – 10700ft for SDW)…it was more about finding out which bit of me was going to give after that long in the saddle (Lower back was the weak link in my case).

    Also I managed to ride parts of the route which is useful for getting an idea of the route/terrain. Did Dorking NDW -> Downslink -> SDW Eastbourne (85 miles – 6670ft ascent) and Winchester SDW -> Downslink -> Dorking NDW (108miles – 8150ft ascent)

    Can you get to ride on the SDW before doing the full 100 miler?

    piha
    Member

    I agree with the above comments, some good advice. I have done the SDW twice and last year the weather was rather challenging. The wind and rain really tests your mettle and can add hours onto your ride. Saying that I’ll be doing it again as it is a nice enough rider.

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