Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Live-Blog: South Downs Way (SDW) in a day

Posted by Matt | July 15, 2011 | 41 comments so far

An intrepid group of moles, nominally organised by MarkyMark and consisting of DaveW, Bazza, D’Andy, Andy661 and Tony are out to ride the South Downs Way in a day today.

Through the wonders of modern technology I am going to channel Tony’s texts throughout the day to give a live update of their efforts…

First puncture of the day

6:16am Start. Group rolling well, trails dry. Beautiful day. Andy661 in burkha. (Tony)

Setting off on the SDW

8:00am First little climb. Sun now getting up, it’s going to be hot. (Tony)

Andy661 opens every gate - not!

8:10am Old Winchester Hill God that was a steep bugger. Andy661 ‘strolling’. (Tony)

8:23am First puncture of the day D’Andy. Nobodies going back up the hill to help. Much p!55 taking. (Tony)

8:27am MarkyMark says D’Andy looks like he came down the hill looking like he was riding a donkey. 9.6mph average. (Tony)

8:53am Is Barrie happy? F%^& no. (Tony)

9:17am It’s a record… 40 mins puncture. (Tony)

9:39am At QE2 Park, waaay down… Yippee. (Tony)

DaveW hits the bread pudding at QE2 park

10:10am Andy661 is heating up nicely in the burkha. (Tony)

10:44am The Gurkhas are out in force for their walk tomorrow. We’ve asked the Gurkhas to ‘hurry up’ Andy. Looking at the weather forecast definitely today was the best choice. Tomorrow looks horrible. (Tony)

South Downs Way climb

10:44am On Harting Hill. This is where it really starts! (MarkyMark)

11:05am Baz and Tony miss sign and are missing downhill too ha ha! (D’Andy)

11:23am Getting hot. Still no wind. Nearing Cocking. That reminds me, got a nice cottage cheese factory going on in my underpants (MarkyMark).

11:30am Scotch egg – the food of athletes (Tony)

Scotch egg - the food of athletes

11:59am Lovely tailwind. At Cocking! Andy661 really struggling. (Tony)

12:00pm Another puncture! Tubeless not helping today. (Tony)

12:01pm Andy661 has blow out of worm in repaired tyre. Just past Cocking. Slow pace. Barrie needing anger management classes from Monday! (MarkyMark)

Tubeless repair with worm

12:09pm It’s not a Scotch egg. Far too healthy. It’s a pork pie! (Tony)

12:13pm New worm didn’t hold. Andy661 using Barrie’s levers get tyre off and breaks the lot! Barrie booking anger management classes Sunday. (MarkyMark)

Broken tyre lever

12:17pm Barrie reckons if the tube doesn’t work Andy661s tyre isn’t going to be the only thing to explode. Bringing anger management classes forward to Saturday. (MarkyMark)

12:28pm Overlooking the Arundel Gap on the SDW

Barrie overlooking the Arundel Gap on the SDW

1:31pm Bignor Hill. Barrie being wrestled into a straight jacket. (MarkyMark)

1:38pm Nearing half way not quick enough! We are going to have to go some. (Tony)

Chalk and hills on the South Downs Way

1:48pm Climbing out of the Arundel Gap D’Andy has gone for the granny. As per usual. (Tony)

1:59pm Andy661 walks the SDW (Tony)

Andy661 walks the SDW

2:08pm Seen it all now, just passed 2 old blokes on Tramper electric scooters (coming the other way thankfully). (MarkyMark)

2:25pm Tailwind building up nicely. Ace. (Tony)

2:41pm Just downed ForGoodnessShakes. Thanks Darren and Amanda for the tip. Andy661 pulling off at Washington. (MarkyMark)

2:57pm At Washington water tap. DaveW still farting energy gel. Andy661 peeling off. (MarkyMark)

3:08pm Fleecing Andy661 of all his supplies and tubes. He’ll be heading into Worthing in only his pants at this rate. (MarkyMark)

3:08pm Andy2XU (Team Burkha) has left the race at 53.69 miles / 8.4mph avg. Biomechanical failure!! LOL (Andy661)

3:34pm 60 miles in total. Let the Stag Weekend commence!!! (Andy661)

4:01pm Now its getting tough. Grinder up Truleigh Hill and it was truly a hill!! (Tony)

4:32pm Devil’s Dyke. Picking up pace (MarkyMark)

4:39pm DaveW breaking wind to the theme of X-Factor (MarkyMark)

4:58pm D’Andy p!55ing ‘I don’t think that’s the recommended colour!’ (MarkyMark)

5:00pm Tyetimber Hill ouch ouch. Yes that is Ddub walking! (Tony)

Tyetimber Hill

5:48pm Past Ditchling Beacon. Dave stops to christen the Gurkhas loo! I hope they don’t mind! (Tony)

5:49pm DaveW taking advantage of the Gurkhas filling stations set up en route for their event tomorow and emptying his bowels in their portaloo. Tempted to push it over with him inside but a group of Gurkhas staring on. (MarkyMark)

6:23pm Crossing A27 and about to do the arc climb into the SW’leys. Mainly grass, loads of drag. (MarkyMark)

6:49pm Another big climb done. We aren’t going to be at Eastbourne early.(Tony)

7:28pm Southease. Big bastard climb ahead. Alfriston 6.5 miles. (MarkyMark)

7:38pm A world of pain as dusk falls. (Tony)

A world of pain as dusk falls

7:50pm 86 miles. High rolling then drop into Alfriston. (MarkyMark)

8:42pm Last climb (MarkyMark)

8:49pm Last hill Alfriston. On the final stretch. (Tony)

The bright lights of Eastbourne

9:36pm Bright lights… Eastbourne. (Tony)

10:41pm Rolling time 10h 36m (MarkyMark)

Filed under Rides in July 2011


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 41 comments on ‘Live-Blog: South Downs Way (SDW) in a day’

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  1. Dave says:

    Be better if it was Barrie’s comments then we’d get the full Big Brother feel.

  2. Matt says:

    Why am I not out riding this today…?!

    Could it be the Summer Ball this evening?

  3. StevenD says:

    45 minutes to repair a puncture ! WTF ! Then I realise it probably took that long to get the Crossmarks on my SPANKING NEW HOPE HOOPS with crest rims last night. Tight bu**ers or what, I seem to remember something about lubing your rim in a previous note somewhere on this site.

    So glad to see that they have perfect weather, seeing the w/e forecast I might do an evening ride today and then I will have to consider than the ‘supermoles’ will, still, also be riding.

    Guys, I hope things run smoothly for you. Matt; great idea to do a live Blog for this adventure.

  4. John R says:

    Love the Live Blog – it’s great to feel you are almost living it with them.

  5. Karl says:

    Top Hole on the live blog!

  6. John R says:

    But . . this is looking like being a long ride.

    A few years ago I did the Petworth to Eastbourne section, with the 65 miles taking me 7 hours – and that is starting a few miles after Cocking.

    So they have got a real slog ahead of them. At least the weather’s good.

  7. Matt says:

    How could I have mistaken Barrie’s pork pie? It’s got me thinking about Scotch eggs now, mind!

    John, I agree it feels like you’re there. As I was sitting in the pub at lunchtime enjoying a Friday curry and reading their (brilliant) texts I was just thinking ‘I bet the guys slogging the SDW in 25° temperatures feel just the same as me’

  8. KevS says:

    May God help all of ’em it’s gonna be a long long slog to eastbourne.

    Great Live Blog Matt, Chapeau off to you Sir.

  9. StevenD says:

    I also have the OS map open on another Firefox tab, don’t anyone tell them how far they have already ridden, or even worse just how much further it is to Eastbourne.

  10. Andy661 says:

    There were more photos up to 48 miles but no signal.

    60 in total and a few more miles left but just not quick to keep with the guys.

    Gutted to have to peel off but want them to get as far as possible. But v pleased I managed a 8.7mph average for 60 miles and I need a 7.5 minimum for Kielder.
    But THAT is gonna be one HUGE day out…

    Hope to see lots of you tomorrow (see MoleHole)

  11. Dazzler says:

    Well it looks like the boys are doing fine, but i have this feeling we’re going to beat the boys back, we’re in Vancouver airport, not on the plane yet!!!

  12. Mr Hyde says:

    Wow, The ride looks great, any chance you guys can upload a route of it so I can stick it on my Garmin?

  13. Well done guys! An awesome ride with good conditions eh. Wish I could have joined you. Next time!

  14. KevS says:

    20:30 and MarkyMark just txt’s they are on the last climb now! Bloody Hell, what an epic day.

  15. OrangeRoo says:

    Epic is the word! Fabulous effort from all. I did the SDW in 1998 in 2 days and that was hard!

    Next year I’ll be coming along – what an awesome ride – well done guys!!

  16. Markymark says:

    Now the delirium has faded…

    We had a great day in awesome conditions! It was mentally and physically testing and i highlight that thinking about what food you’re gonna be eating/drinking throughout the day and eating/drinking it regularly is crucial (as well as the regular Mole spins and 50 miler training loops of course). I owe it to the dates, banana chips, tuna sandwiches, ambrosia creamed rice pots, Nak’d bars, bananas, flapjacks, milk chocolate, ZipVit powder/energy bars (i didnt consume a single gel, but did have the benefit of inhaling DaveW’s via arome-anus-d’energie), and the banana ForGoodnessShake i downed mid-way certainly all kept the meter topped up. Each to their own but that lot and a fillet steak the night before played its part.

    Firstly i’d like to thank the GURKAS for organising their Trailwalker event for today (Saturday) – after some discussion we decided that dodging 8000 midgets in camo gear wasnt going to be fun. So, with that in mind when we we’re finalising the ride day we moved it back a day. And what a result. The trail was perfectly dry, whereas today it must have been a slimey chalky flint-exposing deathtrap….

    Quote of the Day goes to D’Andy: (approaching a big climb) “Time for the Nightclub strategy”. Meaning “Go granny early.”

    Piss-take of the Day goes to DaveW for desimating the immaculately prepared Gurkha portaloo just past Ditchling. Somebody even shouted out “a bit more choke and you might get it started mate” while he was fighting to control the backdraft in there.

    My Garmin battery went at QECP (i’d forgotten to charge it fully!) so i’d like to know how many CALORIES we roughly consumed. At QECP I was estimating around 1600-1800 every 20 miles so perhaps 8000-9000 overall? Somebody do let me know. Sounds alot.

    Most of the day is summarised aboe. It was all great fun. Not a race. Nothing to prove other than finishing in the daylight and having a good p155-take at everybody’s expense.

    Will we be doing it again? Definitely. You really can’t beat being out on the SDW for a whole day.

    Finally, apologies to the lady on Platform 10 at Clapham Junction who, when i ripped an absolutely silent toe-curler just before we got on the last train, ACTUALLY had the cheek to say ‘Men… are… SO disgusting’.

  17. James pro says:

    Well done, looks like you all had a good ride. Next time I will join you!

  18. tony says:

    I’ve got to say in fairness to Ddub. All is forgiven. MarkyMark’s ultra high carbohydrate diet with steak in the build up, did his digestive system absolutely no favours. So although the first “Trailwalker” at the portaloo stop christened by Ddub may have had a bad time, it would have been much worse if it had been MarkyMark making the deposit.

    We got into Eastbourne (a very well sight!) and rolled down to the train station. We bought fish, chips and beer and caught the last train to London, where we all changed at Clapham for the last train home. It was a complete clash of cultures at Lewis as groups of men and women in DJs and evening dresses boarded the train at a convivial evening of opera at Glynebourne. What with 15hrs of sweat (x5), the aroma of numerous cow fields, fish/chips/vinegar, and Ddub/MarkyMark all adding to the aroma, unsurpisingly we had a carriage practically to ourselves.

  19. Amanda says:

    Nothing was mentioned about marky marks trailor the one he need to haul all that food around with him no wonder it weighed him down. I must introduce him to TORQ energy that would save alot of weight.

    Awesome effort having done this myself know what you were going through and must say even we were following your progress as we were on our way back from Vancouver wicked updates although sounds like it paid to be at the front due to all the wind.

    • tony says:

      Top tip from Amanda here. I used the Torq energy powder and never had a touch of the dodgy “too much carbs belly”. I only wish I’d taken more of it with me. Next time 🙂

      Actually I felt better the day wore on! Must have been still in US timezone (in jetlag mode from flight over the pond on thursday).

      Also non of us mentioned – extra well done by Ddub since he had a stinker of a cold too.

  20. Barrie says:

    Hi guys
    Just to say I had a great day out, and thanks to mark for organising, holiday inn was perfect
    Well what can I say, it was funny throughout the day for all sorts of reasons and it is funny the different phases you go through and knowing when to take the p*ss and when not to!
    I must admit the punctures were frustrating but at least we did not have any mechanicals to deal with
    SDW is such a hard day out and you really need to go from the gun and keeping that average pace high and the stops to a minimum, as there are quite a few gates to deal with which over the day must mount up in time delays. The terrain gets harder throughout the day, so if you build up a cushion and get yourself ahead of your schedule, as the terrain gets harder, you get more fatigued, you end slowing quite a bit.
    We knew it was going to be a long day, hence me getting the point of the urgency across but hopefully in manner which was funny with the angry no nonsense northern angle!! But when we were chatting throughout the day when you did the maths of our time and distance to go, we knew we had to push on and try to facilitate a tempo to get to the finish.
    The amount of food we consumed was interesting, which started with a fill up of fish and chips the night before. Breakfast was wheatabix and banana. Now I do have a few weaknesses, one of them is time on the bike, 10 hours plus, is big and a stretch for me, multiple climbs, as I can climb ok for 2, 3 or 4 climbs but after that the legs seem to get heavy. Then there is fuel along the way, as I am not very fuel efficient, as I seem to have to eat a lot to keep the energy level constant. So what was consumed throughout the day was, one malt loaf, packet of Jaffa cakes, 2 mars bars, 4 bananas, 2 packets of jelly babies, 3 gels, 1 mule bar(confer skated from Andy661!) 2 pork pies! And 6 litres of sports drink/water was some much needed tablets from tony which prevents cramp and they were great. Then finished off with fish and chips again on the train home, yum yum.
    From what I observed throughout the day, was
    Tony going strong had a couple of wobbly hunger moments which were soon sorted out but had the strongest legs at the end of the day.
    Markmark going steady all day and still going well at the end of the day with humour still as it was at the start of the day
    Dave was going incredibly well and still climbing strong considering he could hardly speak properly because of the heavy cold he was getting over!
    Dandy was going steady and looking after Andy661 more, however the last part of the ride, Andy really dug deep and squeezed every ounce out for a great finish.
    Andy661, for such a big fella and wearing a seal suit! To which there were comments from the Burkha! to rumble sealskin did incredibly well to get to the point where the hard decision to call it a day, however cheers Andy for that, as we would not have made to Eastbourne before dark or the last train to Clapham.
    Well done fellas for a great effort. I must admit I had a wobbly moment around Truleigh hill at the 65 mile mark where we had just climbed up a monster hill and the thoughts of a another 35 and the hills I could remember still ahead seemed to mentally get to me, however getting through that moment, it was not too bad the rest of the way, however the last 2 climbs out of Alfriston and then the last one out of Jevington really made me stretched me and was so clad to come over the top and see the lights of Utopia!(Eastbourne)
    Well done fellas for a great effort and thanks for a top day out and to all who logged into the blog with the support and kind comments

  21. Dandy says:

    Not much more to add, so thanks for organising a great day out, Mark. I knew it would be tough, as with all these endurance events you need to have 4-5 rides of 80% of the distance under your belt to give you that mental stamina that goes with the confidence you can do it.

    Of course, I’d had a couple of 50+ milers in May, and … err … that was it. I was running on fumes (courtesy of Mark & D-Dub) for the last 30 miles. Every climb for the last 3 hours was a ‘smallest gear grind’. Actually, being so far back meant the air had cleared by the time I got there 😉

    Thanks for waiting for me guys, at least we got there in daylight (just). Repeat after me; I will train properly for the next time, I will train properly for the next time, I will ….

    P.S. Should upload some more photos onto flickr shortly.

  22. Dandy says:

    More photos on flickr here:

    Notice how my enthusiasm for stopping and taking snaps disappears after 3pm 🙁

  23. DaveW says:

    Thanks to Mark for organising this (despite the cruel slurs regarding my constitution!). It was a great day out and I really can’t wait to do it again – maybe a little faster.

    Lessons learnt:
    1. Don’t use tubeless kits to convert standard rims, especially with UST tires. It is a bitch to get the tire off, when you need to tube it. In comparison Crest with tubeless ready Schwalbes are a breeze.
    2. Take at least 1 spare tire per 6 riders.
    3. Take more food. I had expected to be able to restock along the way. I don’t recall my intake, but I think after my breakfast of an egg sandwich and 3 bananas, it was about 6 Torq energy bars, 6 cerial bars, 1 piece of cake, 1 protein bar, 8 Torq gels and about 12 litres of water with 12 electrolyte tabs. The gels got me to the end, but with significant and demotivating energy peaks and dips.
    4. The combination of the foods above gives me terrible wind.
    5. Doing several long (50-70 mile) rides and lots of extra miles in the lead up is really worth it. I can honestly say I enjoyed the whole ride, including every climb.
    6. The cure for the common cold, is to ride 100+ miles off-road in a day (I don’t think it will catch on!).

  24. StevenD says:

    Bravo gentlemen ! I was with your spiritually all day. Very interesting to read the comments about the amount of food consumed.

    I just do not think I could ever do the SDW in a day but may consider this another time and hopefully with others; organise it so that I do the SDW over 2 days so that I meet up with supermoles when they arrive at my overnight stop. Hopefully by that time maybe their pace will have slowed to my normal level plus it may give options for a stocking area for those doing it in one day.

  25. Dave says: there’s your next challenge.

    Actually I was watching this all unfold and thought I might be able to do it, given a few more long distance ride but I do struggle with the up hills and anyone riding with me knows. Given that number of up hills I just don’t know. I could certainly done the gas though.

    • Huey says:

      Bill is a mate of mine from back home. Last rode with him in Sherwood Pines a couple of years ago, then a few months ago he asks what bike I’d choose for such-and-such. Little did I know quite what a challenge he’d set himself. Nutter.

      Good efforts by both you lot and he 🙂

  26. Colin says:

    Well done guys, a huge achievement. Am full of admiration and respect.

    To quote DaveW “..The combination of the foods above gives me terrible wind..”.

    Boy, for him to admit it was bad, it must have been BAD

  27. Markymark says:

    Colin – DaveW didnt have to admit anything… most of West Sussex heard it and the county is still under a blanket of smog-like sulphur stench.

    Can somebody post up the following stats if you have them:

    Calories burned?
    Total ascent (m)?

    Am away this week so hope to see you all on Sunday…

  28. DaveW says:

    I don’t have the stats you are after Mark – I got some strange figures out of Cyclemeter, which don’t add up. I guess it assumes road riding and isn’t very accurate (or iphone GPS isn’t accurate) at tracking ascending and descending.

    Isn’t it meant to be about 10,000 ft of climbing?

  29. Jem says:

    Amazing to read the live ride report as it unfolded.

    Well done to everyone taking part, glad the weather was good for you.

    Hope to be able to do this next year, when I have regained some fitness.

    Bravo, Bravo.

  30. Amanda says:

    The last time i did it it was just on 3000 meters of climbing for the trip as for calories I burnt 3620 calories for the trip but i am a girl and we seem to burn less man life is crule sometimes.

    I reckon based on what Darren burns for a ride like that you guys would have burnt about 6 to 7000 claories for the day bearing in mind that the body actually adjusts on a long trip and i find on a 24 hour race the heart rate actually drops the longer you are on the bike.

  31. Markymark says:

    I’ve just got some stats and it looks like 4250m of ascent.

    i reckon 7000 calories is about right too. I was definitely clocking about 1600 calories every 20-25 miles (first 20-25 anyway). Roughly 800 every 10 miles or every hour.

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