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  • South Downs Way in a day, advice sought for next summer.
  • Painey
    Free Member

    I’ve perhaps stupidly agreed to do the BHF ride of the whole South Downs Way in a day, along with a bunch of friends.

    Although it’s next July I better start training for it now as I’ll need all the help I can get basically, so after any tips/recommendations/advice I can use for preparation.

    I live a couple of miles from Ditchling Beacon so it’s not like I don’t know the area but haven’t ridden west of Steyning before. There to Eastbourne is very well known so I’m aware of what to expect. I’ll be using a 29er HT which should be the perfect bike.

    I’m thinking just regular rides, gradually upping the mileage as we approach next July? I did the BHF London to Brighton off road last year which was a bit of an effort, mostly because I wasn’t very well but from the stuff I’ve read so far I’m expecting this to be on another level altogether. I’ll be doing it a couple of weeks after my 40th birthday too!


    Full Member

    you’ll be fine

    there are no difficult bits, just hard climbing – and a lot of that is down your end so you know what you’ll be getting

    when I did it, the furthest I’d ever ridden was 70miles and that was on road

    get some slap for your arse though !

    Full Member

    TBH mate a reasonable level of fitness and you’ll be fine. it IS a long day, there are a fair few climbs that are long, but plenty of flatish bits too to help out.

    You’ll be fine.

    Full Member

    You already know the hilliest bit then. Eat plenty!

    Free Member

    I used the first 80km from Winchester as atraining ride for Transportugal (did it there and back maybe 6 times) and Ive done the whole SDW inb a day 3 times. Best advice I can give is if possible know the route off by heart. It does make a big difference unless you are not bothered about that sort of thing. Dont get me wrong, its mostly very well signposted but there are one or two parts that can catch you out (GPS would nullify this I guess). Dont go out too hard over the rollers leaving Winchester its a long day so pace yourself. Bring spare tubes a plenty and a patch kit (although you know this already). One or two bigger days on the bike would be useful in the lead up but other than that I dont think you need anything specific. I’m planning on trying to set a PB next summer so might see you out there

    Full Member

    Cover all of it in your training, in both directions. When you are knackered the last thing you want to be wondering is if you are still on the correct route!

    Free Member

    The BHF ride is well sign posted have been a mechanic for them on both the L2B off road & SDW last 2 years.
    SDW more challenging & the Eastbourne end is the tougher end with bigger hills.

    Free Member

    I did it a few months ago, it was something I just wanted to tick off the list since I too live near Ditchling Beacon.

    It took me exactly 12hours, starting at 7am and arriving in Eastbourne at 7pm. I did get lost in QECP for a bit though.

    I didn’t do any specific training. I think before doing that my longest ride was about 40miles. But I do ride regularly and am in my 20s and reasonably fit.

    I found a good supply of Haribo stashed in a fuel tank top tube bag made all the difference. I also did mine solo out of choice so I could set my own pace. A couple of friends did it the day before and it sounds like there was a lot of waiting involved!

    Here’s my Strava record of the ride. My phone died just as I was descending into Eastborne.

    Free Member

    Alternatively you could sign up for this “One of the toughest off-road rides in the UK, …”

    Free Member

    It’s sort of fine and it’s sort of hell.

    It’s not technical (though it can be bloody slippery) it’s not particularly bumpy and it’s not particularly difficult to navigate (though I’ve only done the western half and back)

    What it is is absolutely bloody relentless and very long. Start slow and have strategies for overcoming despair. Ensure you are comfortable on your bike for loong periods of time.

    I cried when I did it – utter exhaustion, a slightly too long position that became apparent after about 9hours and worry over a tubeless slow puncture – at that level of exhaustion the tiniest thing is enough to tip you over the edge.

    I’m hoping to do a double with an overnight stay next summer.

    Free Member

    I did it earlier in the year – I’m 45, so you’re still a boy/girl! It was in really horrible conditions and in fairly heavy rain – it ended up taking us 14 and a bit hours, which is by far the longest day I’ve had on a bike. We rode Eastbourne to Winchester and decided to do a training ride a few weeks before (in perfect weather!) from Winchester to QE Park and back. This turned out to be a good idea as once we’d got to QE Park on the day we knew there we no surprises/horrors ahead.

    I plan to do it again in the dry over 2 days at some stage as some of the views are amazing.

    As the others have said, you’ll be fine. It feels great when you finish!

    Good luck.

    Free Member

    Think we’ve pretty much decided to do the official BHF ride and the L2B one was a good event. I’ve ridden Eastbourne to Brighton before and didn’t find it that difficult. Planning on at least a Winchester to Brighton ride in the weeks beforehand.

    Are the hills towards the start really easier than those near the end? Obviously I’m familiar with the latter but don’t especially consider them that tough, and I’m not brilliant on climbs in general. If they are then at least I have nothing too bad to worry about.

    Off to climb ditching beacon and a few others tonight after work. Wife thinks I’m mad but determined to keep the fitness levels up.

    Full Member

    It’s 7 months away – don’t got nuts yet!

    Free Member

    The real climbs are all the ones you know – Firle etc at the East end.

    Its a good ride but the gates start to really p!ss you off after a while!

    As others have said it depends very much on the weather – dry and you’ll fly it, wet and it becomes a bit of a slippery chore on the ups and a bit sketchy on the downs.

    I’m hoping to do there and back next summer but there is noooo chance of me breaking any records!

    Free Member

    To buck the trend I must say I found it very tough.

    14 hours. Bike went straight in shed.

    Gonna try the 100 again. Maybe Eastbourne Winchester.

    Full Member

    I agree with adsh. I struggled with punctures and it played on my mind terribly

    Then I had a major mechanical with 6 miles to go.

    It was a nightmare day but I loved every minute of it and hated it in equal measure.

    The Winchester end is tough, it’s up or down for the first 30 and I found it very different to the last 70 miles which are easier to navigate and all very similar.

    Full Member

    Having other people to ride with, mechanics, signage and water etc along the route all helps on the day too. Don’t stress about the training just get some big rides in and get swept up with the flow.

    Its a good ride but the gates start to really p!ss you off after a while!
    which is another good reason to do it on an event day – more people to hold them open.

    Full Member

    I tried it but ran out of daylight and got lost near the end and packed in. My moving time was 9hrs but I racked up 13 due to mechanicals, stopping to read the map, lunch, gates, faff…

    With that in mind, keep moving as much as you can.

    Free Member

    What time of year would it be [enjoyably] passable on a cross bike? Family has a house down in Winchester, so a Westerly attack on the SDW would suit me nicely. Probably with an overnight stop though.

    Full Member

    Mid summer!

    Free Member

    What, no earlier than June/July, or right into August?


    Full Member

    SDW is odd. It can be bone dry in mid-May and a mud bath in July.

    The best (but least easily achieved for most people) is keep an eye on the weather and just aim to ride after a dry spell.

    In some respect, on a cross bike, you don’t want it bone dry as you’ll appreciate a bit of give in the ground!

    Free Member

    Slightly on topic but does anyone who rides the SDW know of flint proof tyres, if there is such a thing??

    Had yet another blowout last night on top of Ditchling Beacon, the descent into Westmeston. Had another a few weeks back on top of Truleigh and getting hacked off with it now.

    My Ground Control “Grid” (toughest casing Specialized do) now has an inch long gash in it. Tyre boot and tube was needed to get me home in the dark. Tubeless repair kit needed for Christmas methinks.

    Full Member

    And doing it in 2 days is fantastic fun compared to the 1 day slogfest.

    Punctures/splits are down to luck too.

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