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  • SDW trip report
  • djtom
    Free Member

    I’d been fancying a crack at the South Downs Way for a while, so as my girlfriend was away this weekend, to stave off the boredom I planned a solo mission overnight on Friday. Aiming for a fairly quick time and an early train home from Eastbourne, I left Winchester just before 9pm, spurred on by the Met Office’s promise of a clear dry night….

    Bad things: 2 thunderstorms (clear dry night my ar$e!), glutinous mud, punctures (x 3), running out of CO2 and breaking my backup pump with 30 miles still to go, getting very cold trying to change my last tube in the rain, slippery chalk, not taking proper waterproofs (thanks Mr MetOffice…)

    Good things: Owls flying around me, lightning (amazing from a few km away, but less good when it’s hitting trees around you!), suicidal badgers running under my wheels, the fact I didn’t see anyone else on the trail for 70 miles, finishing and having a coffee in Eastbourne!

    It took a lot longer than planned, but the rain, mud and slippery chalk didn’t help. I found it’s quite hard to keep up a decent average speed at night as well, as the nav is a bit slower. You also end up holding back quite a bit on the downhills to stay within the limit of light output, bravery, and the constant spectre of “if I crash here at 3am it’ll be a long time before anyone finds me”!

    Ended up finishing in just under 12hrs, a bit disappointed with the time, but glad to get it done. I think it totalled 159km with something like 3550m of climb.

    All nav done with OS 1:25k maps, compass (useful in a couple of places) and a Miri map board, maps marked up with tap locations and route info from the Bikedowns site (which is very good).

    Now I just want another go with decent conditions – with prior route knowledge and dry trails I reckon sub 10 hours is possible for a night ride, and nearer 9 hours for daytime….

    Full Member

    I’d be happy with sub 12 hours in any conditions. I live only a couple of miles from the SDW on the eastern edge of Brighton and the rain on Friday night was horrendous but at least the wind was behind you. I ride off road to work and the chalk is at it’s worst when you get rain after a dry period, the beginning of autumn is worse than the middle of winter for slippery chalk just waiting to catch you out.

    Full Member

    Nice effort Tom, how did you finish then if you broke your pump and had a flat, did you walk the 30 miles?

    Free Member

    The tyre had got a CO2 blast in it by that point so it was ridable, it just hadn’t quite inflated enough as the CO2 froze the valve and let some of the pressure out when I removed the inflator. I was just trying to top it up a bit more when the bloody thing broke. I rode the last 30 miles with a slightly squishy tyre and my fingers firmly crossed….

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