Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

South Downs Way revisited

Posted by Matt | August 20, 2011 | 39 comments so far

After the escapades of a couple of months ago, a few of us found ourselves wondering if we could manage the same ride, Winchester to Eastbourne in a day, or 98 miles off-road along a route featuring lots of sharp ups and downs.

Well, Tony, Jez, Keith and I are about to find out, setting out at 6:00am on Sunday morning. Apart from myself, the guys have an excuse of sorts in that they’re entered into the Kielder 100 in a few weeks time so have to get in the training. Me? Well I said yes ‘cos I was asked!

Big painful hills on the South Downs Way

With the power of technology, we’re going to be Tweeting through the day. The Twitter status below should update automatically. No guarantees over the quality but let’s see if it works. You can also track us (until Jez’s iPhone gives up) using this page on Geoloqi.

Winchester, start of the South Downs Way

Cake at the QE2 park, South Downs Way

View across the Weald from the South Downs Way


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 39 comments on ‘South Downs Way revisited’

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  1. StevenD says:

    Good luck tomorrow lads. I hope you have better conditios than we had today on our Ridgeway ride, my ride buddy even dipped his bike in the River Thames as it was so dirty 😮 … I am knackered, ride report to follow later and lots of cleaning to do tomorrow.

    I look forward to the ‘live’ updates.

  2. Markymark says:

    Good luck chaps with SDW 1.2! It’s gonna be a very similar day weatherwise to SDW 1.1.

    The brief soaking today should have dried out nicely by tomorrow and damped down the dust.

    Enjoy the first leisurely 21 to QECP. Then only 79 to go…

    Will be following the fun online….

  3. Andy661 says:

    Good luck!!
    Should have been leading the way but I’m tapering… Cough
    You lot willbe awesome.

  4. StevenD says:

    I hope the early Gremlins disappear.

  5. Andy661 says:

    Keep Calm
    Carry On

  6. StevenD says:

    A mechanical, lots of cow and sheep poo, hmm sounds like the Ridgeway yesterday …. I hope you do not get the ‘skate rink’ chalk or the sticky clay.

  7. Helen, William & Ollie says:

    Ouch!!! Sounds like you have broken the back of it though. Keep going…

  8. stevend says:

    Lancaster Bomber, Druids, horny couples – I hope one of you was taking photos. 😆

  9. Markymark says:

    Trust Matt to spot a couple of shaggers…

  10. Markymark says:

    Those ‘last couple of climbs’ – especially the one out of Alfriston – are b@stards and known as C5 and C6 on my classification scale…. ENJOY!

  11. StevenD says:

    Well done and congratulations to you all.

  12. Baz says:

    Hi Guys
    Bloody well done guys, can’t wait to hear all the story! the last climb out of Jevington!…………….. but over the top and you see the lights of Eastbourne! what a sight

  13. Andy661 says:

    Bloody awesome effort guys, sniff.
    Enjoy that beer.
    I’m gonna crack it next year.
    Tony, Keith, Jez – see you on the start line at Kielder!! GULP!

    • Dandy says:

      We’ll make sure you complete it next year, Andy. Let’s either arrange a driver, or a place to kip in Eastbourne so there’s no deadline of a train to catch. Or …
      … you could just try getting some training in beforehand instead of using the excuse of getting married you idle sod 😉

  14. Dandy says:

    Excellent guys, well done. Don’t you just love those last few climbs? Not !!! As Baz said, those lights (well it was nearly dark when I saw them a month ago) are a very welcome sight. Let’s hope it’s a quiet day at the office tomorrow 😉

  15. Markymark says:

    Whoo hoo… nice one! Congrats. All the news next week.

    You will eat everything in sight for the next three days believe me.

  16. KevS says:

    Hats off to you men!
    Awesome effort and hope your bits n pieces are not too sore today/this week/month!

  17. Jez says:

    My legs are hurting a bit today but just need more sleep I think as I get up early for work. Really really hard day on the bike. I think we all had highs/lows at different times. I was feeling really good in the first half but by Alfriston I could only manage to plod along. I was also feeling a bit ropey around Brighton too but some food helped me recover from that low. By Eastbourne though I had absolutely nothing left and no food was working and just had to tough it out in those last few miles to the end.

  18. Matt says:

    That was a day of real pain, at 54 miles or so I think three of us were definitely having a wobble. I’d have bailed if anyone else had and would have kicked myself subsequently.

    We did it. I’m not sure where the time went in the second half of the ride but put some of it down to dehydration and the fact a short stop in your mind can easily stretch to minutes without you realising. Of course a longish puncture stop didn’t help either.

    My stats from the Garmin are 100 miles (from just outside Winchester), 3400m of climbing and 3449m of descending, all at an average moving speed of 9.1mph and average temps of 20° – I think the temp peaked at 32° during a stop with the sun on the unit so that’s a misleading spike.

    All in all, a huge effort, I’m rather sore today thanks to a combo of uncomfortable Sugoi Gustov shorts and no Henge saddle which caused me no end of pain all through yesterday. Legs are no more sore than you’d expect; a bit lifeless and quite tender round the knees.

    I could have done with a lighter pack…

    Thanks to Keith, Jez and Tony, I really wouldn’t have made it without you guys!

  19. Kc says:

    Apart from feeling lifeless, stiff and sore good to report no lasting injuries.

    Seeing Matt unpack his backpack was a laugh. He was tooled up for changing a gearbox on a tractor with wrenches that I could see no application for on a bike!

    Hats off to Tony who stuck with us and made sure we stayed on route. Thanks to Matt for shepherding me during my moments of pain and Jez who just quietly went about everything inspiring me to carry on.

    The highlights now come sharply into focus as the aches subside; our very own air display, hitting the top of Alfriston climb knowing it was nearly done, the views, the look on the face of the female as we rode into her corn field photo shoot, and finally when I got home to hear those welcoming words of achievement ” phew, you stink”.

  20. Colin says:

    Oh me, oh my.

    Firstly, hats off to you all, a mammouth achievement and am full of admiration. Very jealeous of the Lancaster flypast you had.

    If the saddle was that critical Matt, i’m amazed you let me keep it so easily Matt, sorry you lived to regret it. However, you gave yourself a very handy excuse to rant and let off steam so it was probably a good thing ultimately!!!! OK, maybe that’s going to far!

    It was very comfy and welcome indeed and very helpful on my own little (relative herculian) effort yesterday, as discovered by tony from his sources.

    Leith, Holmbury, Winterfold, Newlands and home. 37 miles, 1655m of climbing @ 9mph. I felt ok and could’ve managed more had I more time.

    A little ahead of my d2d training plan so i’m quite chuffed. Most importantly, riding that length of time solo didn’t bother me, which is why I did it alone.

    I know i won’t be up to matching your achievement this year, but maybe next, who knows.

    Good luck to you all for Keilder. You know you are up for it now

  21. Matt says:

    Colin I only have myself to blame – I was keen to have the Henge back but to be honest the main culprit was the bulky naan in my Sugoi Gustovs – new shorts which really didn’t suit my racing backside. It’s bibs under baggies from now on, chafed myself raw from 20 miles… ouch!

    You’re right it did give me something to moan about!

    After saying yesterday, emphatically, NEVER again, I now think with cooler weather, comfortable shorts/saddle, lighter backpack/supplies and a bike that doesn’t creak (from a failing chainset) or squeal horrendously (from sintered pads/Avids) it is possible to at least have a more positive experience of the day.

    As it was, for the above reasons I didn’t enjoy any of the ride yesterday despite great company. It does feel an achievement though which I do appreciate.

    As you imply from your comments, riding long distance (solo or otherwise) is mentally very tough.

  22. Markymark says:

    Nice one. Congrats again boys!! You will do it again, I enjoyed it much more the second time, having learnt the lessons from the first effort.

    I can’t imagine doing it with a raw chaffing and already sore at 20 miles Matt! Try MACE liners with silver in them for that always fresh anti-fungal effect.

    Am interested in how many calories your Garmin registered?

  23. Jez says:

    See see!!! He’s already talking about doing it again! You’re talking about what to change NEXT TIME.

    It’s a brutal day and I don’t know why doing something so painful is something anyone would willing do but there’s an odd sense of satisfaction from completing it.

    I have unfinished business with the hill at Alfriston but I think it will be sometime before I can face my nemesis again.

  24. stevend says:

    You finish an all day ride and think, there is no point doing it again, why would I want to ? Then as soon as 24 hours passes it sinks in, hey I am so impressed at my own achievement that I would like to do that again – of course provided the weather and conditions are right. On reflection I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Ridgeway ride, but the SDWIAD is just something so completely different. If I ever attempt it, it would have to be over two days.

  25. Dandy says:

    To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, to think that you will enjoy the SDWIAD is a triumph of hope over experience.

    The key is in sufficient preparation and riding within yourself on the day. The first time I did it, admittedly a few years ago now, we rode several (i.e. 3 or 4) 70-80 mile rides in preparation. This gives you a chance to sort out your bike set-up, food and clothing; as well as the main training benefit of allowing your body to adapt to these epic days in the saddle.

    On the day, I was riding with my mate who was slightly slower than me, this meant I was not riding flat-out on the climbs, and had a bit left at the end of the ride.

    Of course, this year the real world intruded into these preparations, due to work and family commitments I only had a couple of 50 mile rides in training, and I was the slowest rider in the group once my fellow ‘Lanterne Rouge’ called it a day around the half-way mark. My ‘man vegetables’ still haven’t fully recovered, and it was more than a month ago !!!

    So … next year I will make sure I get that training in … aargh, what am I saying?

    • stevend says:

      wise words from that boy Dandy, re:preparation. So the RW will be a training run for the SDW ? That thought has just made me shudder,.. mind you it is ‘only’ a further 15 miles from the RW to Stonehenge and that gives me an idea for next June.

  26. Matt says:

    ‘My ‘man vegetables’ still haven’t fully recovered’

    That’s what comes from having to wrap it round your thigh Andy…

    I have to admit my training consisted of just riding a lot, without any thought to long term comfort on the bike or what to carry. I suffered for that I think as I had no real fitness issues. I do think dehydration was an increasing problem which creeps up on you almost unobserved.

    The first hard climb after lunch found me wilting as I couldn’t seem to keep my temperature down and despite trying hard to keep taking on water it’s always a battle from there to get enough in without feeling sick.

    All useful experience though.

  27. Kc says:

    I reckon I sank 11 litres on route and ran out of fluids for a few miles before I cramped up. I clearly need to take on even more fluid next time…

  28. stevend says:

    11 litres, Keith that is an awful lot. ie I litre per 9 miles, I just could not get that amount down. Was that drunk at a fairly consistent rate through the ride, or did your intake increase later on, eg after 60miles as the efforts of the day took their toll ?

  29. Jez says:

    Keith, did you have any energy/hydration powder in your fluids?

    Not sure how much I had but I guess probably half the amount you did. I think I needed to drink more though.

  30. Kc says:

    I did have some additives in the fluid

    Intake picked up after half way.

    Threw it down my neck when cramps appeared and I believe it was this and gels that helped a quick recovery

    Sadly, last night my right knee gave me enough pain to wake me up. Hope to spin a little on the turbo tonight to see what’s up

  31. tony says:

    Well for me it was a completely different ride to the previous SDWIAD. The first time had been – as much as it can be – fairly easy with the steady pace in the morning (calm, Barrie, calm, search for inner peace) allowing me to ride well within myself and have plenty left over for all the climbs. Let me put it this way – I rode up absolutely everything the first time around and walked up lots second time around.

    The 2nd SDWIAD couldn’t have been more different. I’m not sure what it was, whether it was that I’d had a horrible cold for the last couple of weeks or not hardly rode the bike since SDWIAD No.1 (looking for excuses I’m afraid), or I didn’t get my hydration right, most likely it was a combination of these together with complacency from SDWIAD 1, but things went badly wrong this time around.

    After only 35miles my legs were feeling really lacking in power and by 45miles in I was getting cramps in both legs even on some of the smaller climbs. Going for a pee it looked like I was passing cubes of golden syrup. All I could do was spin in little gears and the others had to wait for me. The shame of it – I walked up loads of climbs!

    Knowing that I had 55miles to go didn’t the feeling any easier but I wanted to keep going to help navigate. I double dosed on Nunc tablets at the 48mile water stop and when we got to the 55mile water point (where Andy661 turned off last time) I really felt like I wasn’t going to be able to make the climb out of the A24. However the legs started spinning and amazingly my legs started feeling better so that as others had their dips my best miles were between 60-85miles.

    At the end the damn the Alfriston climb was a HC C1 (trademark MarkyMark) this time round. Everything hurt.

    It was a hell of a day. Good points – We had few troubles. One puncture and one broken chain and once the early light rain cleared it was a beautiful day. The company was great – although the chat in the last 25miles was greatly deminished.

    However I won’t be continuing my SDWIAD ever month routine, next time (yes there will be) I’ll do some cycling beforehand, plus I won’t take an 8hr flight the day after (my legs were as stiff as hell on the plane).

  32. Markymark says:

    Blimey tony, i am surprised, especially after seeing you flying on SDWIAD:1, still jetlagged.

    For an epic ride it doesnt take much to nobble you. I can relate to Matt’s overheating, my head was throbbing at the 43 mile mark after that chalky climb immediately before Bignor. Plenty of fluid and an energy bar sorted that out. Plus, i recommend a ForGoodnessShake (or two) – at about half-way and 80 miles for me.

    I can throughly recommend a two-dayer if anyone fancies it next year. Stopping over at Gumber Bothy camping barn for a BBQ and fire (43 miles) day 1 (just before Bignor Hill)… or an East to West direction would be interesting…

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