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  • South Downs Way in a day, in February?
  • Premier Icon stick_man
    Full Member

    Looking at some ‘challenges’ to do next year and one thing that appeals is the SDW in a day, 100 miles off road, possibly on my CX bike.

    One slight snag is that one of my riding mates can’t do this after February. I realise it’s not an obvious time of year to do it, but is it do-able, or just a stupid idea?

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Full Member

    it depends.

    if you hit a dry or cold spell you’ll probably be ok.

    if there’s been any sort of heavy rain in the days leading up to it it could be a bit of an effort.

    and pick a day with a tail wind…

    Premier Icon timnwild
    Free Member

    It’ll be hard, but I think you could do it. But it takes very fit riders 12 hours and there won’t be much light, so I’d recommend leaving as early in the morning as possible, and the last section (Brighton to Eastbourne) is the hardest in terms of hills – better to at least be able to see while you’re doing it.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Full Member

    But it takes very fit a lot of riders 12 hours, although an increasing number are doing it under 10, and some knocking 8

    If it’s frozen it’ll be as quick as the summer I reckon. If it’s wet, it’ll be a massive slog.

    Premier Icon rewski
    Free Member

    Should be fine in a dry speall, It’s all about the wind, I find xcweather.co.uk very reliable. I did Devils Dyke to Eastbourne in a 20+ headwind, took 5 hours, progress was very slow, the wind was stopping me even on the steep descents.

    Premier Icon spacemonkey
    Free Member

    Also remember that one section can vary dramatically to another, i.e Amberley is freezing and dry, Brighton is pissing with rain and sodden.

    Premier Icon Taff
    Free Member

    Don’t think it’ll be a problem provided you have got a relatively dry day and dry conditions under foot. Head winds are the next worry. Think you want to decide closer the time as to the day you’re going to do it rather than just book in a weekend months in advance although saying that I have a recon of QECP -Winchester – QECP planned for this weekend and have done for quite some time 🙄

    Premier Icon stick_man
    Full Member

    My main concern would be the risk of getting seriously cold and wet especially if we have lots of mechanical problems, punctures or a crash.

    Then there’s the obvious challenge of riding unfamiliar tracks in the dark when v tired, but that could be overcome by setting out at, say 5am with decent lights and a spare battery.

    We have someone we can call to pick us up if it all goes wrong.

    Premier Icon spacemonkey
    Free Member

    There’s a website where you can check wind direction in advance. Google it.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Full Member

    Might help your decision. About lights at the very least!

    Date………Sunrise..Sunset..Length
    1 Feb 2012…07:38….16:51…9h 13m 22
    29 Feb 2012..06:46….17:41…10h 54m 12s

    Premier Icon Taff
    Free Member

    Check out South Downs Double for places where you can meet people if needs be.

    Then there’s the obvious challenge of riding unfamiliar tracks in the dark when v tired, but that could be overcome by setting out at, say 5am with decent lights and a spare battery.

    I think you’re right, you want to ride at least some dark sections when you’re fresh and alert. If there are several of you the chances of missing signs are minimised but still it’s easier to follow the guy in front.

    Are you out of the area? Can you ride the start/tail end so you can try some of it in daylight before you do it in the dark?

    Premier Icon bikebouy
    Free Member

    Wet Clay/Limestone = slippyslidysplat.

    You should be fine, you may need to carry your bike along some of the muddy trails sections, but a CX bikes a good thing to do it on..

    Premier Icon rewski
    Free Member

    I’ve ridden parts of the SDW many times in the wet, the chalk becomes like soggy pizza dough, especially when it’s semi frozen on Windover Hill. Another issue can be fog and mist, can very dis-orienting. It’s tough going but to be honest I’ve been reading books about the Great Divide and Iditarod Trail which make the SDW seem like a nice day out riding, not that I done it… yet 😉

    Premier Icon corroded
    Free Member

    If it’s damp, as is likely given the season, large stretches will be as slippery as hell. Not much fun IMO. But on crisp sub-zero day with the ground frozen solid I can imagine it would be quite beautiful. In fact, it’s pretty good right now, with autumn colours coming on and dry trails.

    Premier Icon avdave2
    Free Member

    If it’s frozen it’ll be as quick as the summer I reckon.

    It can also be damn uncomfortable when it’s frozen. I ride to work on the downs and when it freezes it is certainly a lot quicker than when its muddy but the mud freezes in lumps especially in the bits popular with horse riders. I tend to ride my rigid bike in the winter and it can be hard going on frozen ground so I’d be a bit wary about a cx bike for a long ride in those conditions.

    Premier Icon robbo167
    Free Member

    Did it in early march..p***ng rain and cross wind..singlespeed…eastbourne to QECP(thats where my lift was waiting)….very character building but all rideable,just break it down into small chunks……never ever on a CX bike tho!

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