Ride Report: The South Downs Way Challenge

On Saturday I rode the full length of the South Downs Way; a historic bridleway that runs down the spine of the South Downs National Park from Winchester to Eastbourne. It was certainly the longest day I have ever done in the saddle, with 13.5 hours of elapsed riding time. It was a very enjoyable day though; I rode with some great guys that I've met through twitter and the blog, and they were fantastic company to help tick through the miles.

In a slightly different style "Ride Report", here's a timeline of the day's events:
  • 02:45 - Alarm sounds, stumble out of bed
  • 03:15 - Leave the house, bike in boot of car, drive to ferry
  • 04:00 - Board Wightlink ferry at Fishbourne
  • 04:40 - Arrive Portsmouth
  • 05:48 - Board train for Winchester
  • 06:50 - Arrive Winchester RIDE BEGINS
  • 07:30 - After a few wrong turns I'm on the South Downs Way, pursuing the others who left Winchester twenty minutes earlier. Drizzle and cross winds. Hard Going.
  • 08:30 - Meet up with the other seven out on the trail, great to have some company. Looks like this could be a long day if the rain keeps going - feet are already sodden. Impressed by the Union34 waterproof I am wearing though.
  • 09:00 - Rain has stopped! Result!
  • 10:00 - The hills are getting bigger! We're setting a good pace though, great company chatting with the others. Tailwind is coming in handy too!
  • 11:00 - Ticking through the miles
  • 12:00 - Lunch of Eccles cake, banana and Fruit Pastilles. Trails are drying out nicely! Group splits in two; half of us are heading the full distance to Eastbourne, half are stopping half-way at Amberley
  • 13:00 - We reach Amberley, the half-way mark. 6.5 hours of elapsed time down, about 4.5hours riding time. The hills keep on coming, now completed more fourth category climbs than you can count on one hand.
  • 14:00 - Man that was a big hill coming out of Amberley, another one bites the dust though.
  • 15:00 - Three quarters of the way through, just 35 miles left to go.
  • 16:00 - Up to Ditchling beacon, a few wrong turns, but back on the path now. Getting a lot closer to the sea, it has to be a good sign!
  • 17:00 - All feeling a bit tired now, but gradually getting there. Beachy Head is on the horizon; just five more hills to go to get there.
  • 18:00 - Counting down the hills like it's a "To-Do List", very glad of the strong gale force tail wind, it is really helping to push us along.
  • 19:30 - I split from the others, need to push onto Eastbourne to catch the last train home.
  • 20:30 - Reach Beachy Head and the FINISH! One hell of a downhill road ride into Eastbourne town! Yeehaa!
  • 20:45 - Board train to Portsmouth
  • 22:55 - Arrive Portsmouth
  • 00:00 - Board Midnight Car Ferry
  • 00:40 - Dad meets me at Fishbourne with bacon sarnie! Ace! 
  • 01:00 - Arrive Home. End of one long day! But one happy and satisfying day. Mission accomplished!

Ride Totals:
  • 103.5 Miles (166.6Km)
  • 3,687 Meters of Elevation Climbed
  • 10:50hrs Riding Time
  • 13:35hrs Elapsed Time
  • 6,532 Calories Burnt
  • Average HR: 129Bpm
  • Strava Link

It was one big day of riding. It's been on my bucket list of Objectives for 2013 for a long time, and it feels great to tick it off. Thinking about it, I reckon that the weekend that I did in Wales last September (Blog Link) was a harder day overall, but this certainly made my legs ache... a lot! I would love to do it again, I'd be interested to see how quickly I could ride it. Perhaps... just maybe, I would like to see if I could make it a return trip (206 miles)... now that would be a big day out!


  1. Chapeau Tim, bloody good going considering what time you were up at, I'm in the process of building up my first 29r(not had a mtb in stable for about 3 yrs since it was stolen)and reading this is wetting my lips for some big rides myself, SDW is now on my bucket list thanks to you :) again well done Tim..

  2. Good post, informative and useful. Check this link

    https://www.mapmyways.com/portfolio-items/south-downs-way/ for more info


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