Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 49 total)
  • South Downs Way… single speed?
  • legometeorology
    Free Member

    I’m likely riding the SDW in June, how would it be single speed?

    It doesn’t look particularly hilly (I’m also used to resonably hilly rides north of Leeds and into the Dales.) But I could be wrong.

    If any one has done it single speed, what gearing do you suggest? Gear for the flats or for the hills?

    I could potentially take my (geared) gravel bike instead (700 x 45mm tyres). I’d be dropper-less though.

    jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    This South Downs way – https://ridewithgps.com/routes/9685110 ?

    From what I’ve ridden before (not all of it), you don’t need a dropper and a gravel bike is ok – you won’t be smashing the downs, but you’ll be quicker on the ups.

    There’s a lot of up and down. Many on here do the whole thing there and back for fun so you’ll get more informed advice from them 🙂

    I’m also riding some of it in June, as part of the Great British Escapade, on (probably) a dropper less gravel bike.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    I could potentially take my (geared) gravel bike instead (700 x 45mm tyres). I’d be dropper-less though.

    It’s not an insignificant amount of climbing, and zero use for a dropper unless it’s dry and you fancy an areo tuck on the descents.

    I’d take the gravel bike, and maybe even consider taking a spare tyre + tube as the odds of a day ruining flint slashed tyre are substantially non-zero (mountain bike tyres won’t help much, but a gravel tyre ziptied under the saddle is a fairly insignificant weight penalty).

    Nothing to stop you SSing it, but it’s one of those rides thats even doing half of it is longer and harder than I imagined. It’s not technical, but it’s not ‘easy’, you’re either seating up a steep climb, or burning off all that effort for no return on the descents. Sounds obvious, but it’s 100 miles, of which 50 of them are climbing.

    winston
    Free Member

    Its more ‘hilly’ than you migh expect and has suprised more than a few out of towners. Its perfectly doable on a SS but don’t expect it to be easy.

    pictonroad
    Full Member

    Paging @DrP

    Ask him about the ‘official’ strava singlespeed record…

    👀

    dovebiker
    Full Member

    I’ve done it on a SSCX – gear was 34×19 – riding time was something like 9 hours, but I was riding with others with gears, so was having to wait at gates etc. If over 10,000ft of ascent isn’t hilly enough in your book, crack on! The hills are shorter and sharper in the west but get progressively longer as you head east – you will be out the saddle on most of them. In dry conditions in summer, a semi-slick tyre is all you really need. Also watch out for the weather – I’ve done it mid-summer where temperature was barely double-figures and 30mph easterly.

    shermer75
    Free Member

    No massive hills but lots of steep undulations, doable on a singlespeed but you’ll need strong legs! I’d definitely be using gears myself,

    peekay
    Full Member

    Also watch out for the weather – I’ve done it mid-summer where temperature was barely double-figures and 30mph easterly.

    And also, if the sun is shining, there isn’t much shade on the route, so pack your sun cream.

    JoB
    Free Member

    anything is singlespeedable given the right gearing and fitness, people have single speeded round the world 🙂

    there’s 3,800m (ish) metres of climbing so it’s not to be underestimated and the long long drags out from the valleys have destroyed people from The North who might be used to shorter sharper climbs

    i’m a ride what gear you have single speeder so don’t ever change my gearing for a particular ride, if i wanted to do that i’d take my geared bike, but whatever gear you choose there will be steep sections you’ll probably have to walk (Amberley Mount, Washington, Saddlescombe) which will be about the same speed as riding anyway

    your gravel bike will also be fine although you’ll miss the whoomfy comfort of mtb tyres and have to be a bit more wary of chalk gulleys and sharp flints

    winston
    Free Member

    Yep and the climb up from the YHA at Southease going East defeats a good number of people with gears!

    john_l
    Free Member

    It doesn’t look particularly hilly

    🙂

    HoratioHufnagel
    Free Member

    I think these threads tend to be full of humble brags. 9 hours is a very very very quick time.

    It’s a very hard 12+ hour ride for most people.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    9 hours is a very very very quick time.

    It’s a very hard 12+ hour ride for most people.

    Absolutely…. Nothing wrong with 12 hours… I think that’s roughly my best time.

    DrP
    Full Member

    Ask him about the ‘official’ strava singlespeed record…

    Lolz!! a simple wrong turn voided my strava route..so alas, no KOM for me!! What a brag that would have been though!!

    Anyway, yeah..doable on a singlespeed…but tough.. Think i was 8hr 45 at my fittest…
    Keen to give it another go this summer actually!

    DrP

    onecheshirecat
    Free Member

    Im looking to do it this summer. 12 hours is about the best I can hope for as a mere mortal. I value my knees too much to try singlespeeding in general, let alone trying Amberley Mount on a SS.

    winston
    Free Member

    The weather plays a huge part when looking for a fast time (or simply enjoyment) as other have said – there is very little shelter and a headwind will hurt. The state of the very chalky ground will also dictate how fast you can descend and on a SS, how much wheelspin you might get on the steep ascents.

    And then there are the walkers…..dodging them in a polite manner without causing offence can take the fun out of it. I tend to avoid sunny weekends in the summer these days.

    pictonroad
    Full Member

    9 hours is a very very very quick time.

    It’s a very hard 12+ hour ride for most people.

    Note the use of ‘riding’ time…

    DrP’s sub 9hr on a singlespeed was ‘time’

    That’s a VERY big difference. 12hrs is 9hrs riding time and I agree, that’s a decent pace for mortals.

    spacemonkey
    Full Member

    I wouldn’t risk it on a gravel bike because those flinty descents (many of which are quite rapid) could easily shred your rubber. Taking banks to the side isn’t always viable. That’s just my tuppence though, because plenty of people have done it without major issues.

    The weather, as mentioned, could be damn hot, and you’ll have nowhere to hide because the whole ridge is exposed. Take sunscreen and plenty of water (and note tap points).

    I’ve not ridden it all in one go, but I’ve done many miles down there and it’s bloody hard work. Memorable scenery though, and a real feel for its neolithic history.

    spooky_b329
    Full Member

    It doesn’t look particularly hilly

    . 🤣

    Some of the climbs are brutal! I live at one of the hilliest points and regularly zig zag over and along the SDW on my singlespeed. I’m not sure I’d want to do the whole lot on SS though, I’d definitely do it on my gravel bike though.

    richardthird
    Full Member

    LOL at not very hilly. Done it a few times and SS worked best for me mainly because it forced me off and walking up more hills instead of feeling I have to ride everything when with gears. So it saved some energy, and still (just) got in under 12hrs.

    I prefer heading west (when wind direction allows) as I’m setting off from home and you get the nastiest stuff over and done with earlier.

    benp1
    Full Member

    It’s a long ride and there’s a lot of climbing. There’s nothing super high but it all adds up. Is it doable? Yes. Can you do it? Only you can answer that

    I personally would not have the legs to do it SS, unless I was happy to walk lots of it

    intheborders
    Free Member

    It doesn’t look particularly hilly (I’m also used to resonably hilly rides north of Leeds and into the Dales.) But I could be wrong.

    You sound like the folk I deal with at work – say stuff based on zero facts.

    mattbee
    Full Member

    It’s hilly. Definitely. You may be fine on a SS, but if it’s your first time and you have other options I’d go for something with gears.
    With regards to dropper post, I don’t think you’d miss one for the actual riding but there are over 100 gates to navigate and I find it more useful for that!

    easily
    Free Member

    Long time since I’ve done it, but I recall some very steep bits. I stopped at one point and couldn’t get going again so had to walk to the top.
    If it’s a choice between gears and a dropper I’d go for the gears every time, but if you reckon you can do it and you’ll enjoy it more then go for it.

    wwaswas
    Full Member

    I’d say if you’re not used to riding on the Downs then it’s going to be a tough day just because it’s different to what you normally ride as much as anything.

    As has been said overall it’s a fair amount of climbing but also for most of the ride you’re either descending (often out the saddle) or riding up the next hill so there’s not much ‘rest time’ of just pootling along the flat to give your legs a rest.

    wwaswas
    Full Member

    Good point re: the gates too – they all seem to work differently so you have to factor in slowing down (often at the bottom of a descent so you lose all momentum), working the gate out and opening/closing it, then getting your rhythm back and back up to speed for each one – even at less than a minute per gate overall it’s still a fair amount of time out of the day when it’s a 100 times and you’re getting knackered towards the end. Try and time drinking/eating with being at a gate to save a bit of energy/time.

    peteza
    Free Member

    32×18 on a 29er when we did it, because that’s what I run everywhere. Seemed fine, got me up all the hills with no walking, but that’s only because we took 15 hours, at least 3 and a half of which were spent in cafes eating. If we’d tried to go faster I’m sure I’d have been walking.

    The gear seemed about right. For a chilled out ride like that I’d rather get up the climbs. And have a dropper for the descents, even if they aren’t techy. I think if I had a fast bike with semi slicks on and was putting some effort in I’d be tempted by a slightly harder gear as I struggled to keep up with the geared riders on the flatter sections. Only slightly harder though.

    reluctantjumper
    Full Member

    It’s a long ride and there’s a lot of climbing. There’s nothing super high but it all adds up.

    I’ll second that! I’ve only done one attempt (blew up on the penultimate hill so came in a 13h15m) despite putting in a massive amount of training beforehand. Three weeks before I had done a solid week of Afan, Cwmcarn, CYB and Llandegla on back-to-back days to simulate the amount of climbing and distance (124 miles and 14,000ft of climbing) and even then I underestimated it. The cumulative effect of hill after hill after hill, there’s very few flat bits, is brutal. Doing it SS is definitely doable by some but don’t for a second think it’s going to be easy! I’m hoping to have another go at getting a sub-12hr time this July or September if the weather plays ball on my weeks off.

    legometeorology
    Free Member

    Damn you all, I wasn’t planning on doing it in a single day but now I feel obliged to try.

    I’d need at least 12 hours, assuming the weather were good. That said, the logistics may force me to do two days anyway — I’ll already have a B&B midway alone the route, as my partner is at an arts workshop.

    Point taken about the hills. The photos and video I’d seen clearly weren’t representative. Nothing as long as on my local rides, but now I’ve looked at some elevation profiles there’s a similar amount of climbing/distance overall.


    @thisisnotaspoon
    , good idea, in fact even it I did decide to go on my mtb I could take a 45mm gravel tyre for emergencies. I hadn’t actually considered flint — never ridden with it around. I have tougher mtb than gravel tyres, so that may be what tips me towards single speed.


    @dovebiker
    @peteza, I’d probably stick with my current 34/20 ratio then (if I don’t go with the gravel bike). I’d be riding alone so don’t mind cruising the flats, and I never normally change ratios for particular rides anyway.

    You sound like the folk I deal with at work – say stuff based on zero facts.


    @intheborders
    Thanks for the helpful reply, friend

    shermer75
    Free Member

    One top tip is that there are semi regular outdoor taps dotted along the route, it’s worth checking these out before you go so you don’t have to schlep a ton of water. I’d link the resource I normally use but it looks like the website has gone kaput, but a quick google should sort you out

    expatscot
    Free Member

    It’s perfectly fine on a gravel bike, but make sure you take the toughest tyres you can.
    The flint is brutal on sidewalls.
    I had an awful time with punctures and slashed tyres a few years back.
    It’s also quite lumpy.

    DrP
    Full Member

    My advice in order to make it in a decent enough time would be to get practiced in eating and drinking as you ride, rather than stopping to have a bite etc. You’ll NEED to keep eating, and if you stop each time it’ll add up significantly.

    Also, the mantra I had in my head was “the hills don’t go on forever”! Cos they don’t…. It’s kinda a pattern of UP – ALONG – DOWN, repeated…
    Get practiced in recovering from a climb WHILST riding along also. DOn’t stop at the top to catch your breath..keep riding!!

    DrP, 23:18 wonky ring

    wwaswas
    Full Member

    DrP, 23:18 wonky ring

    spintastic!

    nuke
    Full Member

    Sdw singlespeed? **** that….imo 😀

    Its all about comfort: if you are use to or reasonably use to long rides on a gravel/ss/etc then go for it. Personally I’m not so for my next go it’ll be 100mm front & rear FS bike with a dropper (as id miss it if I didn’t have it)

    ernielynch
    Full Member

    Assuming that you are doing west to east IME the difficulties will occur the closer you get to your destination, and not simply because of the obvious fact that you will be knackered.

    As you leave Winchester you will think, ‘well this is a piece of piss’, however the closer you get the Eastbourne the more gnarly it gets with roots, rocks, and loose stones on the short but steep climbs.

    With SS and constant unexpected roots and rocks, and no option to change down a gear, expect to do a fair amount of coming to stops and walking, especially as 70-80 miles in you will be fighting fatigue as well.

    With the countless gates that increase the closer you get to Eastbourne, just get your fitter mate to go on ahead and hold them open for you, it worked for me 😃

    andyg1966
    Full Member

    Calling @robcolliver 4x end to end non stop!!

    richardthird
    Full Member

    Over 2 days, it’s one of the best bike rides ever.
    In 1 day, it’s one of the worst.

    DrP
    Full Member

    DrP, 23:18 wonky ring

    Yeah, switch that!..32 tooth!

    DrP

    spooky_b329
    Full Member

    I’ve been riding the SDW fifteen years and never had a slashed tyre that has ended a ride, MTB or gravel.

    I’ve had a few sidewall slashes on the gravel bike but nothing I couldn’t repair with a patch or plug. Not ride ending but a couple have been bad enough to make any permanent repair a bit iffy.

    legometeorology
    Free Member

    Well, yesterday I finally did this. A very long day out, but that was largely due to my weird logistics…

    I started from a b&b in Steyning, where my partner had a work thing (the reason I decided to try the SDW in the first place), rode to Winchester, trained back to Eastbourne, then rode back to Steyning

    Did it on my new build, with a belt drive, which I love

    It actually wasn’t as hilly as I was expecting after comments on this thread. Single speed worked pretty well and had I not been pacing myself I prob could have gotten up all but a couple of the hills with the (lowish) ratio I was running (46/28). As it was, I resported to walking 3 or 4 times I think

    No pics of the day but here’s the new bike

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