Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 40 total)
  • SDW in 1 or 2 days
  • Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    Hi, I thought this might be a good place to ask about riding the South Downs Way.

    I’d like to ride Winchester to Eastbourne in either 1 or 2 days but can’t make my mind up. I’m reasonably fit and done a few 12hr XC events but with much less climbing than the SDW. I probably could do it in a day but I’d imaging the last few hours will be a struggle.

    If I did the 1 day option, I’d have someone drop me off at Winchester then pick me up in Eastbourne so pretty easy logistically.

    if I did it in 2 days I’d likely enjoy the ride and scenery more but I’m not sure where I’d stay. I’m reluctant to book somewhere in advance in case the weather is bad; I’d prefer to pick a day that’s dry with little or no headwind, so that kind of rules out booking a bnb weeks in advance. I’m happy to camp somewhere but obviously don’t want to carry loads of kit with me, and don’t want to book weeks in advance.

    Are there any campsites that have a drop off facility where I can drop off a bag of stuff a day earlier, then just roll up on my bike and collect my bag, set up, then store it there again the next morning?

    Alternatively I could wild camp, but never done that and would only want to carry minimal kit for a warm evening. If I did this, I’d have to carry food or find somewhere to buy food with my bike with me which should be fine. What is the minimum I’d need to camp safely for a summer night? Bike needs to be safe too so inside the tent.

    Premier Icon TheGingerOne
    Full Member

    Amberley is about half way and there is a campsite right on the SDW on the main road through, as well as train station if needed. We stayed in their B&B accommodation when we did it over 2 days. Pub in village for dinner.

    Premier Icon v7fmp
    Free Member

    my first and currently only attempt was done in a day. When it was a bit wet on the ground and i did it on a specialized status (a 160mm alloy park bike). It was quite the challenge, especially as i didnt drink enough and fuelled myself badly (12.5 hours moving time, 14 hours door to door).

    So with the above in mind, i think you should comfortably do it in a day with the experience you have had with 12 hour XC events etc.

    There is a YMCA type lodgings on the SDW near Worthing, so just past the half way point, should you wish to crash there for the night. although i am not sure how their booking system works.

    I am hoping to give it another bash this year, but with much better prep and equipment!

    Premier Icon ayjaydoubleyou
    Free Member

    done a few 12hr XC events

    you are fitter than I am/ever was.

    I did it in a day on a 150mm alloy enduro bike with a high roller on the front.

    Premier Icon haloric
    Free Member

    Can recommend the YMCA option, was very welcoming and cheap – can’t remember how we booked it, but we also had our own tents.

    1 day would have been too hard for me, 2 was perfect, bit of time to stop and enjoy the view.

    Was in a group of 5 and would not have made it in 1 day due to the number of mechanical issues anyway, 1 rider had a puncture and his tyres were impossible to get off and back on again without eating tubes.

    Premier Icon The-Beard
    Full Member

    I’ve done it in a day once and done it over a couple of days several times with a cheeky bivvy.  There used to be plenty of places to fill up water bottles and we’d eat in a pub for dinner (and have enough beer to aid sleep!) then would ride up onto the ridge and find a good bivvy spot.  We packed light and just rode with our kit.  Always an excellent couple of days. Finish with a bag of chips by the shore in Eastbourne before getting the train back home!

    Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    Forgot to add the bike would be either a 130mm full sus or rigid XC bike. I’ll probably choose the full sus for comfort and less fatigue.

    I’ve done it in a day once and done it over a couple of days several times with a cheeky bivvy.  

    Just a Bivvy? Or a tent/shelter too?

    Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    Sorry, meant just a bivvy or bivvy plus sleeping bag etc?

    Premier Icon kentishman
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    If alone, do it in one day as it feels quite an achievement topping the final hill into Eastbourne. If doing it with others then do it in 2 days as that would be more fun.

    Premier Icon sotonkona
    Full Member

    I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time too. Over the years I’ve ridden nearly all of the SDW (over many different rides) except the stretch from Lewes to Eastbourne. Was keen to do it solo this summer, my only real concern was whether I’d be completely mad to do it on a 140mm travel trail bike (Carbon, 29er).

    Premier Icon The-Beard
    Full Member

    Sorry, meant just a bivvy or bivvy plus sleeping bag etc?

    Bivvy bag, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and a tarp.  I went with my mate and we’re weight weenies so we packed very light.  Resupplied on route and took the bare minimum we could get away with for the two days.  Always stank lie a pair of tramps on the train home but at least we got most of the carriage to ourselves!

    First time I did it I was on a 5″ full travel bike.  Subsequent trips were all on a plastic XC hardtail.

    Premier Icon v7fmp
    Free Member

    @sotonkona – yeah, that will be fine. Might not be as quick or efficient as XC race bike, but will defo get the job done.

    When we did it, as mentioned i was on a Status, a mate was on a mega tower, one buddy on a Giant Trance and another on a Specialized Epic HT.

    Premier Icon sotonkona
    Full Member

    Thanks @v7fmp that’s good to know, I’m pretty fit and will get fitter by the summer so really keen to give it a go

    Premier Icon bubs
    Full Member

    I’ve done it over 2 days a couple of times so that I can actually enjoy the experience and stop to look at things when I feel that way inclined. I just pick a pub anywhere around the half way mark for a decent meal, a sleep and to sink some “recovery” pints. A short to mid travel full sus would be my preference for comfort but it was also fine on a hard tail. Just need it to dry out a little..

    Premier Icon sockpuppet
    Full Member

    From the sounds of it you’d be fine doing it in a day – it’s a big ride, but 12hr XC is similar magnitude. Especially if you have a drop off/pickup.

    I’ve done it in 11:40, and had a two hour drive to the start the day, a train ride back to the car and a two hour drive home! Long day.

    Doing it overnight is fun too, sound like you want Truleigh Hill YHA. Literally on the trail, good bike store, and self catering with (limited) grub for sale on site – call to check that you’ll be able to buy supplies!

    YHA Linky here

    Enjoy!

    Edit – hmmm. Dorm rooms still not available. And private rooms or cabins are c£150.

    Dorms are usually c£25! Sorry!

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Free Member

    For a reasonably fit rider, 1 day is perfectly achievable, just pace yourself and keep up with the refuelling. I’ve encountered plenty of folk bivvying on route – chose your spot and no worries about security. I nearly ran over someone between Amberley and Chanctonbury who was actually sleeping on the track – realised it was a person when I spotted the bike. There’s also a couple of shelters in QECP that are OK to kip in (I have) arrive at dusk, leave at dawn and no one would notice. Another option would be to leave late evening, get to somewhere like Amberley for breakfast and have most of the day to ride to Eastbourne. I’ve seen people ride it with ridiculous amounts of gear like huge backpacks, pushing the bike up Old Winchester Hill and you think they’re gonna bail at QECP.

    Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    1 day would be incredibly satisfying to do. If I did that, I’d want to start early, about 7am so I finish in daylight. If I did 2 days, I’d start early afternoon so stop/sleep when it starts to get dark. Not keen on carrying loads of heavy locks so can’t really go inside anywhere for food anyway. That’s why If I do plan to stop, wild camping is the only option.

    Premier Icon bentudder
    Full Member

    I’ve done it in a day on a hardtail and I’d probably be OK on a 12HR XC race, but would definitely be tail-end charlie. We B&B’ed it the night before in Winchester and left at the sparrow’s fart. Soggy first couple of hours, and then all good. The elevation gain is pretty massive, but this is by no means a technical ride – if you’ve done 12 hr races you’ll be good. A two dayer, as said above, would give you time to smell the roses and ogle the views (which are stonking). Either will be a winner in my book.

    Premier Icon susepic
    Free Member

    The Winchester travellodge is v close to the start to allow an early departure, and happy for you to take bikes into the rooms.

    A few other threads on here about the SDW. Would wait a bit until it’s dried out a bit, mud will make for heavy going at the moment.

    Premier Icon WildHunter2009
    Full Member

    Theres a campsite at the Cadence cycle cafe at Litlington as well. Really good spot even its to refuel before you start climbing again.

    Premier Icon peteza
    Free Member

    1 day would be incredibly satisfying to do. If I did that, I’d want to start early, about 7am so I finish in daylight.

    I’d maybe start earlier than that. When we did it we started c.4.30 in the morning. It’s pretty cool heading out at that time, getting to see the dawn etc. It also means you’ve got a bit of leeway if stuff goes wrong or if you want to chill out a bit.

    We didn’t make any attempt to go fast and spent over three hours sitting in cafes along the way before finishing at dusk. We could have started later, but we’d have had to push on a bit, wouldn’t have been able to stop for the massive breakfast we did, would have finished in the dark and so on.

    Do it, it’s ace!

    Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    I’d maybe start earlier than that. When we did it we started c.4.30 in the morning. It’s pretty cool heading out at that time, getting to see the dawn etc. It also means you’ve got a bit of leeway if stuff goes wrong or if you want to chill out a bit.

    That would mean leaving my house just after 2am so wouldn’t have had much sleep. I don’t want to book anywhere to stay far in advance in case the wethers bad. So it would be a case of deciding to do it a few days in advance at the most.

    Premier Icon sockpuppet
    Full Member

    Though if it’s a sunny day, be ready for right arm/right leg only sunburn!

    Premier Icon peteza
    Free Member

    Fair enough!

    If it’s any help (and as others have said), the Winchester Travel lodge is only about 2 minutes from the start and we were able to book that with only a couple of day’s notice.

    Admittedly we were lucky enough to be fairly flexible. If a room hadn’t been available we’d have just waited for the next good weather weekend when it was. We had to postpone it a fortnight due to weather as it was.

    Premier Icon easily
    Free Member

    @Poopscoop to the forum please.

    If you need advice he’s your man

    Premier Icon bigdaddy
    Free Member

    Doing it in a day is best I reckon – done it 5 times now, averaging about 11 hours. It’s a really great ride – be prepared for it to get harder towards the end – the hills get bigger and steeper, but if you’ve done 12 hr races you’ll be fine. I’d wait til nearer the summer though – we’ve tend to do it as a summer solstice ride, leave Winchester at 7am and be in Eastbourne for chips in the evening. There are water taps along the way, so don’t need to carry much.

    Premier Icon smiffy
    Free Member

    I found Chanctonbury ring to be a spooky place to sleep.

    Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    I found Chanctonbury ring to be a spooky place to sleep.

    Is that right up on the ridge with a few trees? I think if I did stop to sleep it would be up there. I’m thinking 2 days so I can start a bit later after a decent breakfast on day 1. Then stop with just a bivvy bag and thin tarp. Looking online a bivvy bag and tarp won’t be too heavy and could attach the bag to the bottom of my backpack.

    Premier Icon sotonkona
    Full Member

    I see Trailbreak do an organised SDW 100 miler in July, has anyone tried that before or have you all done it independently? As I’ll be going solo, it really appeals to have some support, but obvs less flexibility should the weather be rubbish or if I can’t keep up with the required pace!

    Premier Icon DrP
    Full Member

    I’ve done it a few times..keen to do it again this year as it’s been a few years since doing it (last time was 08hr 45 start to finish on a rigid SS!)..

    I wouldn’t worry about doing it solo as you really aren’t that far (ever) from civilisation.
    It’s a great trail as it feels really remote, but you’re always close to people and walkers if needed!

    Make yourself aware of the tap locations.
    Make yourself aware of the final 3 or 4 hills..
    Eat plenty
    Enjoy!

    DrP

    Premier Icon 5lab
    Free Member

    Slight hijack.. has anyone here done the double? I’ve done one way a couple of times, considering the double as a big ride for this year but wondering how much tougher it would be..

    Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    So, if I did the 2 day option, I’m thinking a bivvy bag with a net so I don’t get better all night and a tarp to cover my bike.

    A few questions:

    1. What bivvy would you recommend that rolls up small and light?

    2. Is a tarp necessary for summer?

    3. Am I better off with a lightweight tent that I can put my bike inside? If not how do I secure my bike?

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Free Member

    I’ve ridden to Eastbourne and back, 200miles in 20 hours using a mix of NDW, Downslink and SDW in prep for a double attempt by fatbike. On my first double attempt I got to Eastbourne in 10:30hours but punctured on the way back, found my pump was knackered and the back-up battery for my Garmin wasn’t working. After spending an hour faffing with my tyre, I bailed as all my ‘contingency’ time was gone. I tried again the following year, but realised after 50 miles that I was struggling to maintain a fast enough speed to complete the whole thing in time – you really need to be moving quickly at all times.

    Even in mid-summer there can be a lot of dew overnight, so a tarp will help keep you dry. Riding through the dew means you get well covered in sheep and cow poo. Chose the right bivvy spot, up high and there’s no worries about bike security as there’s no one about unless you’re concerned about getting mugged by badgers? Ridden it many times overnight and rarely encounter anyone else. There are some other events that use the SDW so best avoid them.

    Premier Icon gray
    Full Member

    For wild camping or even at a secluded campsite, I use one of these for added peace of mind. Very light, and very loud so would definitely wake me up!

    KINOEE Bicycle Alarm, Anti-Theft Burglar Wireless Alarm with Remote Control for Bicycle/motorcycle/Electric Tricycle/car/door/window, Waterproof,113dB Super Loud Sound, 7 level Sensitivity https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08F592WQQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_Y6EH1ZRBYRAJ7FHGH42H?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

    Premier Icon MarkE25
    Full Member

    I really rate my borah gear bivvy bag-very light and compact and has mesh net over the head. It’s also big enough to get a mat inside. Not waterproof though, so for use under a tarp unless the forecast is absolutely nailed on as dry!!

    Premier Icon mccraque
    Full Member

    Slight hijack.. has anyone here done the double? I’ve done one way a couple of times, considering the double as a big ride for this year but wondering how much tougher it would be..

    Yeah – I did it in 2019, starting in Eastbourne and returning to Winchester. I can’t pretend it wasn’t tough. The biggest ride I had done to that point was the single. It is doable though but make sure you eat and drink enough. It is easy to forget how frequently you need to eat. Put as much weight from your back onto your frame as you can and know where the taps are. (and know whether they are working or not!). We did it in July so it was only fully dark from about 9pm – 3.30am. The hardest part was actually turning around at Winchester and then miles 120-150 for me. Once I got back to Amberley I know the route and got a second wind. (well…except for Washington when I thought I was going to die!)

    Premier Icon packs
    Free Member

    Plenty of links from this forum at the bottom of this page for 1 day (and the double).

    Premier Icon spacemonkey
    Free Member

    If you do it in peak summer then be prepared for the heat. It can easily reach 30deg+ and there is pretty much no cover, so you’re exposed the whole way. And if you’re a sweat beast like me then take loads of electrolytes to fuel up those tap stops.

    It’s an epic ride, but bloody hard.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Free Member

    it’s really boring so get it done as quick as possible 🙂

    Premier Icon smallspinsized
    Free Member

    After doing some research into Bivvy bags etc, I thinking of using a cheap single wall tent so I can put my bike inside too. At least then I can sit, eat, rest without being bitten. Looks like a 2 person single wall tent packs down a similar size as a bivvy bag and tarp anyway.

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