BHF Randonnee South Downs Way 100 miles 31st July 2010 (Epic report)
What I did yesterday on my bike 😆
The day started at 3:30am with the alarm going off and me feeling like I’d only just put my head on the pillow. With Sarah’s dad, Duncan, doing the support for the day after a quick bowl of porridge and a cup of tea we loaded the bike up and set off for Winchester at 4am. We got to Winchester at 5am and got lost briefly but managed to follow some other cars to the start point.
At the start the gravity of the ride hit me as lines of race-bred whippet-types in full lycra lined up next to full carbon bikes. A quick briefing and liberal application of chamois cream and by 5:45 we were on the trail.
The first climb flew by out of Chilcomb and up to Cheesefoot Head; it was really raining at this point and it was very wet – I was glad of my jacket as I looked around at the saturated people traveling light.
Next it was up Beacon hill and I was averaging well over 10mph (my target for the whole ride was 7.5mph). Once again the climb was easy and my training was paying off. I was sticking with the groups that looked much faster than me and enjoying knowing the route. A quick munch on a power bar and drink from the Camelbak. Powerbars were in a small bag behind the stem on the bike meaning I could munch and cycle. The first push of the bike was up past the vineyards – and then back on at the top.
The route continued with the climb up to the top of HMS Mercury, where on a sunny day you can see the Spinnaker at Portsmouth; however with the rain and mist seeing more that 50 yards would have been good, so views were at the top were disappointing. After Mercury it’s fast downhill on the road where I got my max speed of the day – 41.7mph.
On the road up to Butser Hill and down the long grass downhill – why oh why is there a gate in the middle?. Rolled into Queen Elizabeth Park with 20 miles under my belt to the checkpoint, put a couple of litres into the Camelbak and carried on without dawdling as I was aware this would kill my time. For the next stretch I was on my own for quite a few miles and was going well, still keeping the average above 10mph and eating and drinking little and often.
As I was now on my own and with nobody to mither me it was time to fire up the iPod and power up Hartling and Cocking Down to the sounds of Muse and the Foo Fighters. At the second checkpoint, I had a quick stop to eat some bara brith that Sarah had made me especially for the ride and restock my Gels and Powerbar supply from the rucksack to the small bag on the bike. At this checkpoint I was in the first 20 to go through. Another refill of the Camelbak at the farm across the road and on up to the top. Still feeling pretty good although my average speed had just nudged down into the 9mph bracket.
The top of Heyshot Down to Littleton Down is a nice run and you stay above 200m for 2-3 miles, from the top of the field you can see the masts in the distance. A few riders had caught me by now and I was slowing but it’s fast downhill to the road. My plan from the start was to roll on the bits where gravity would take me and spin my way up the hills, keeping a close eye on my heart rate monitor.
The next bit at Littleton Farm is a hill I really don’t like. It’s a rutted chalky farm track that was wet and messy. On the way up I past some of the faster chaps who had succumbed to punctures and then another small group with the same problem. Riding on your own means you don’t wait for others and time after time people would shoot past only for me to slowly grind past them later as they all waited for one of their group to fix a puncture. Very hare and tortoise. At the top of top of Burton Down was a guy with a Carbon Scott punctured. Stopped for a quick chat and then I went on my way. He was to point out at Devils Dyke as he passed me that he had done so 3 times already today only to puncture and for me to grind past. After Devils Dyke I never saw him again though, so maybe he had better luck.
Nice roll down to the A29, nearly slipping on the chalk and on the way down my rear brakes started to squeak. This squeak would annoy me for the next 60 miles but changing the pads would have taken too long and at least on the downhills walkers could hear me coming as my bike screamed like a banshee. Another checkpoint at the bottom, 40 and a bit miles in and feeling quite tired. Not many had gone through before me though.
A chap in an ambulance gave me the thumbs up to cross the road (I thought he was checking to make sure I wasn’t about to die).
Down to Amberley and across the river, knowing that when you cross a river you are back at the bottom of the hill and the only way is back up – and so it was. A few people had some support at the top and said only fifteen riders had been through before me, although my average speed was dropping through the 9mphs.
At the top of the road was it was another short push and I saw 2 guys (one with a green Genesis and the other with a Boardman) that I would keep bumping into all the way to the last hill. (thanks for the gates). Another case of they were quicker but had 3 or 4 punctures.
Up over Amberley Mount and along a stretch I quite like, going through what looks like a hole in the trees from a distance marks 50miles and I’m technically half way!
Over the tops and a nice long roll down. Due to the rear brake making so much noise I favoured the front one, however on the slippy, greasy wet tarmac my front wheel locked up and nearly went from under me. I narrowly avoided hitting a cyclist coming back up. At the tap at Washington, I stopped for 10mins to eat some more bara brith and a few jelly babies and fill my water bottle. I called Duncan to update on my progress – it was just before midday with 53miles done in just over 6hrs – the pace was good. However, getting back on the bike after the stop I suddenly didn’t feel as good as before and I can’t really recall much from here but it was starting to get hard.
After this it was over the road and up towards Truleigh Hill, which I was slowly working my way up in my lowest gear until somebody in front of me got off and pushed – my brain then figured it was okay to push a bit. At the top I was rescued as I set off on the wrong bridleway until some heroic Scottish chap who doing a support stint shouted at me to come back. I then stayed with them for a while to the YHA where they stopped for water and I pushed on.
On and over to Devils Dyke and a checkpoint, at this point I was knackered and had a sit down, a bottle of water and a banana – even though I knew I was meeting Duncan at Ditchling Beacon for some lunch in only 5 miles.
I hauled myself off the grass and back onto the bike feeling a bit sore and stiff and got to Ditchling Beacon at about 2:45pm. I was slowing down quite a lot by now and I stopped here for about 15-20 mins and had some jam sarnies, a few jelly babies and more bara brith! Seeing as it was Ditchling, I ditched some of the extra weight. The bladder from my Camelbak had to go and the bottle on my bike would suffice, I ditched my waterproof jacket and few extra food bits. I also got rid of my baggy shorts and put on an extra pair of Lycra cycling shorts in the hope two pairs would somehow ease the soreness.
The next 10 miles flew by and I cracked 80 miles by 4pm and was having a second wind, iPod on and cranks turning well. Met the guys with the Genesis and the Boardman again at the temporary bridge and then stopped at the level crossing for a couple of mins for a train, a breather and water at the checkpoint – 16 miles to go we’re told.
So only a couple more hills and 16 miles, which is a normal Sunday night ride. My second wind, however, was running out and my legs were getting heavy. I made it up the hill at Alfriston okay but on the last hill at Jevington at 94 miles I hit the wall. About half way up I saw a stile at seat-level and sat down for 5 mins, took on my last Gel with caffeine boost and a mixed handful of Jelly Babies, Tangfastic and chocolate coated peanuts. While I was there two racing whippets in matching lycra and one other chap passed me. Thinking that I couldn’t be doing that badly if I was in front of them I jumped on the bike to give chase – 50 yards round the corner the racing whippets were fixing a puncture!
I could see the other chap and gave chase – with a combination of Gel, jelly babies and seeing Eastbourne suddenly my legs were new and I was powering through. I caught the chap up and passed him on the downhill into Eastbourne, arriving a couple of minutes ahead of him.
Tired, knackered, Job Done!
Ride was done on my Boardman Team Full Suss
Saddlebag with multitool, 2 spare tubes, leatherman, zip ties, patches etc.
Fuel tank for gels & ipod
Endura Singletrack shorts with 6 panel liner, binned at 70 miles for extra pair of Lycra
Paramo Wind stopper
Endura Humvee Top
3 litre bladder (never had more than 2 litres in it)
Mini first aid kit
More gels, powerbars
Statistics. (going from Cateye and Polar HRM)
Max speed 41.7mph
Average Speed 8.3mph
Time spent cycling 11h:44m
Wake up time 3:30am
Start time 5:45am
Total time 13hours
Bara brith 6 slices (with butter)
Water 10 litres approx
Mechanical Failures 1 (saddlebag fell off and had to be zip tied back on)
Wees 5 or 6 (Good sign of hydration)
Falls 1 (into Nettles)
One day on and my body is still stiff but I'm really glad I did it. Raised over £850 for a good cause.Posted 11 years ago
(one with a green Genesis and the other with a Boardman)
Great report. Yeah that was me with the snot green Genesis!
Well done for making it, was a tough ride indeed and relentless, those last 20 miles seem to last forever ! The view into Eastbourne was so worth it ! Though next time taking co2 cartridges.Posted 11 years ago
Nice one and a good write up. Was wincing from the 2nd sentence given the 3:30 start…takes a certain stamina to make it through a 'normal' day having got up at that ungodly time.Posted 11 years ago
I feel your pain having done it in the dry on Thurs. Still recovering today, but got in a 20 miler this afternoon.Posted 11 years ago
Very similar ride to mine, averages almost identical . I got lost twice and no punctures ( UST with sealant)
Good ride report . Well done for raising all that cash, i rode for my own satisfaction
Never doing it again, this was my last time.
@doglover Well done! I just ran out of steam on that last hill! Legs just faded, you guys seemed pretty fresh still.Posted 11 years ago
Good read and well done 🙂Posted 11 years ago
good work. made it over a fair bit quicker than me and my mates, we're not doing it again either 🙂 I found the hardest bit the climb up to devils dyke, seemed to go on forever at a really low speed, nearly killed me. by the time I was near alfriston I had a bit of a rythem on so didn't mind so muchPosted 11 years ago
Tiger6791, yeah we did wonder where you got to! Know what you're saying about the hills, went through phases of feeling utter crap and then the opposite…also feel worse today than Sunday ??Posted 11 years ago
I really want to do this, I often ride parts of the South Downs, and I am from Winchester, and have always wanted to do all the South downs way in a day.Posted 11 years ago
Brill write up mate really good time as well!!!!Posted 11 years ago
nice one. good write up.Posted 11 years ago
I'm doing the bhf ridgeway randonnee next weekend.
Done the ride myslef 3 years ago and can vouch for the pain and tiredness!Posted 11 years ago
Top report chap and job well done! 😀
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