South downs way BHF – First enduro – Advice
loads of threads on this, but would take some finding
It’s pretty hard, though I did it on an unsuitable bike (Bullit), carrying ludicrous extra bits including a spare ST highroller and prior to it I’d never ridden over 70miles (and that was on road). I was moderately fit, at best – mind, I can’t remember the last 30 miles or so apart from the last descent.
There’s a lot of relatively short climbs and descents (unless you live in the new forest, like us, when they’re towering monsters)
There is virtually NO technically challenging riding but if it’s wet it can be very slippy (we were lucky, the 1st half was really muddy but the howling partial tailwind dried the last half out).
Most people say the Eastern half is the hardest climbing (as I said, I don’t remember it). I definitely walked one or two stretches later on
If you’re xc fit and it’s a nice dry day without a headwind, you’ll piss it but you’ll sleep well that nightPosted 5 years agofeistyMember
The south downs way is made up of a lot of flint that rip up tyres if you are unlucky, I ride Hands Dampfs on my Mountain Uni and Nobby Nic Snake skin 2.25 on my XC bike which I find gripier but with a bit less volume than the Hans, it is also noticeably faster being a lot lighter which will help you on the hills
There is a lot of sticky mud in the lowland/dips of the SDW which can relay pack up on your tyre so the wider Hand maybe a bit of an issue depending on how the trail dries out (not holding out much hope for summer this year lol) and your frame clearance
The downs is all hills how difficult you class them is subjective to your fitness, I have been riding them for 22 years (god I sound old) and my normal weekend ride will be 40+ miles on my Single speed and I actively seek out the hills now. The biggest issue will be the weather, too wet and some areas bog out and make riding a drag and too slippy to ride up some hills and the hills / valleys channel the wind so a calm day can be very windy riding the ridge of the hills, if this is against you on the day it will feel like you are doing 300 miles.
SO practice putting in the miles, put on some lighter (but armoured sidewalls) tyres NN SS 2.25s for example and eat lots of Jelly Babies 🙂
This was what I had yeasterday on the Downs
My customer WaltWorks 36ers cuts through the mud (Near Devils Dyke when it was not very wet)
Posted 5 years ago
I’m doing the BHF 100 miler in July
This will be my first enduro and I am starting to prepare for it.
Other than riding my bike lots, do people have any particular training thoughts? I’ve read a few advice guides online.
What about the South downs riding – I mostly ride North Downs and South Wales – how steep are they, any tips, or things to bare in mind?
What would people say was the hardest climbing section? I want to do some of the harder bits to acclimitise.
Lastly – tyres. I love my Hans Dampfs and think they’re the best all-rounders out there. Could I / should I try to get away with a faster tyre?
AlexPosted 5 years agofeistyMember
Last weekend My bike came back with that lovely white/grey covering of dust and no bike washing required.
The terrain is so changeable, the main double track sections with all the flint tend to hold up well wit the water training off, but the valleys with the muddy over chalk pools the water and turns to crapPosted 5 years agoVan HalenMember
i`m doing this as well. if you ride xc at all you’ll be fitter than me!
prob going to get some of those nobby nics or something faster rolling if its dry.
rode over to eastbourne from brighton the other week and the hills are pretty draggy but i did have a 19mph headwind! hoping it dries out a bit.
i`ll bring a few jellybeansPosted 5 years agoMing the MercilessSubscriber
If its dry and has been for a few weeks then a low grip summer tyre is fine. Bear in mind that flints will rip any tyre apart so take a good tyre patch with you just in case.
The climbs at the Winchester end are gentle and from Amberley onwards they get more brutal, from Ditchling onwards on tired legs they can be will sapping. My personal nemesis is New Market hill between Lewes and Southease, oh the sniffles and huffiness that that caused will be long remembered.
Weatherwise take sunblock/glasses and a neck shade if it’s going to be hot/sunny, the glare from chalk is evil. If it’s wet then chalk has all the properties of teflon and when you fall off the flints have all the properties of a scapel blade.
I’m not selling this am I….
For climbing practice try riding the Lewes to Eastbourne SDW section (you can then train it back to Lewes).Posted 5 years agojmckeeMember
I did this event a few years back. As far as training goes just get out and work up to a few 60 or 70 mile days before the event and you’ll be fine. The steepest climb going west to east is just after Amberly but keep something in reserve because as others have said the last 30 miles has a good number of long hard climbs. Nothing ridiculously steep but with 70 miles in the legs it’s hard going.Posted 5 years ago
Best advice I can give is to google the location of the water taps and make sure you have enough food. The BHF guys organise it well but there aren’t many food stops so you need to have a plan. Energy bars and gels and pick a pub around the half way point for something more substantial.rewskiMember
As Ming said I would definitely give the last few hills a ride, Windover Hill and Bourne Hill with tired legs and high winds these hills can feel long and tough. Stunning 360 scenery though, I ride South and North Down Way a fair bit, they’re very similar eg chalky mud, SDW is far more flinty, and I mean small to huge sharp chunks that can rip a tyre and take chucks out of your frame and flesh.Posted 5 years agowwaswasSubscriber
^I rode that exact spot not a few weeks ago and it was bone dry.
I tend to go round the muddy bit that the Unicycle is on. There’s grass to the left of the shot that you can follow around and rejoin the path about 100m further on.
It’s so changeable though, a couple of dry days and a warmish wind and it’ll be concrete again.
This bloke has rather obsessively photgraphed virtually every gate on the whole route. http://www.bikedowns.co.uk/ and also put loads of other info up on the site. Well worth following all the pages through on a quiet evening to get a very good idea of what you’ll see on the day.Posted 5 years agoVan HalenMember
interesting about the food.
someone mentioned to me taking a light folding tyre as a spare if you are in a group. i`ve managed to slice DH tyres on flints so i dont think there is an escape for the unlucky
also i`ve been told to treat it as an unsupported ride with a few stops rather than a supported trip as BHF dont provide much.Posted 5 years agomarvincooperMember
If you have GPS with mapping I’d recommend taking it for the routefinding. If you don’t have one go for OS maps. If you get separated from the bunch like I did a couple of years ago it’s easy to miss a turning and go miles out of your way. The map they give you is next to useless. It’s a long day and it is much harder over the last 35 miles than the first 65! It’s a great ride though, just set off steady so you’ve something left in the tank at the end. Also if it’s your first 10 hour plus ride I’d practice what food and drink you are going to rely on in any long rides during your build up.
Good luck and pray for a dry day and a following wind!Posted 5 years agoWill_LockieMember
My advice is to ride the route (or at least split it into two over a couple of days) before the event, so you know the tricky bits – espec if you are riding on your own, and use GPS
great link here from wwass on the most common mistake people make right at the beginning, guarantee you lots of shouting at this point every year! 🙂Posted 5 years agonukeSubscriber
Will_Lockie mentioned common mistakes…I reckon this is another one soon after Ditchling:
The SDW goes sharp right down a narrow looking path heading south/south-west instead of through the big gate and rolling hill in front of you…very easy/tempting to just keep heading on east!Posted 5 years agoPaineyMember
I agree that it’s easy to miss that sign just as you arrive at Blackcap. I go past it quite often but I normally go through the gate and take an immediate left down what is one of my favourite descents. 45mph with some massive jumps along the way, great fun in the dry!Posted 5 years ago
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