An off road South Downs Way hilly adventure
12 gA riders set off on 28 July to ride the South Downs Way - a 100 mile off-road route from Winchester to Eastbourne. gA ride leader Dawn tells us about the trip.
Day 1 - Winchester to Cocking - 37 miles / 4300 feet elevation
As we set off from Winchester the drizzle started, which made the chalky surface rather slippery (!) adding an element of excitement to the ride! Unfortunately there was one major mechanical in the group, but a cable ties bodge job got Beth to the nearest bike shop and she was able to continue the adventure. We spent the night at a campsite near Cocking - let's just say it was rather basic!
Day 2 - Cocking to Southease - 47 miles / 6000 feet elevation
A big day with lots of climbing, and unfortunately another mechanical meant we were now down to 11. There is nothing flat about the SDW - you are either climbing or descending - but as the hills kept rolling the views got better and better. The sun shone, although we were battered by some brutal winds. We spent the night at the YHA South Downs, in a room so hot it doubled up as a sauna.
Day 3 - Southease to Eastbourne - 15 miles / 2,500 feet elevation
An easy day compared to the previous one, although the lack of decent sleep was starting to take its toll. We pushed on to beat the anticipated downpour and arrived in Eastbourne in time for lunch.
A few words of advice for anyone thinking of attempting the SDW: Respect the hills! The SDW sounds quite innocent but it's not. You are always either climbing or descending, on mixed terrain including rocks, grass, or (slippery in the wet) chalk, plus it's pretty windy up there! And take food and water - lots of water - as there are actually quite limited places to stop and buy supplies without coming off the SDW.
All in all a great adventure and we met so many people along the way who were really pleased to see such a large all-female group taking on the challenge. Next adventure being planned, watch this space...!