Saturday, 30 June 2012

South Downs Double......nearly!

Ever since reading about the south downs way a couple of years back, I have wanted to ride it. This became more of a possibility when Mark joined the team as he lives close to the start at Eastbourne.
So with about 6 months of planning last weekend saw my first ride and Marks first attempt at a 24hr ride.
Mark is by no way a endurance virgin but he mostly rides 12hr events and he had rode parts of the SDW but only as part of a BHF ride, of one way split over two days.
We planned way back to do the event on the longest weekend of the year and as a result this meant missing Mountain Mayhem (given the mud not a bad year to miss) and a planned early start of 4/5am was planned but in true "King of Faff" style Mark was still building his bike at 11pm on the Friday night. Those who Know Mark wouldn't be surprised by this as he has even had the start of races delayed for his benefit.
So with a later than planned 9am start we parked up at Eastbourne and with a bit more faffing we were ready to roll. A quick photo opp from a local who proceeded to advise us that her husband was planning the same ride but over "5 days" this did start alarm bells ringing......
And off straight into one of many climbs it was slowing going due to a massive crosswind, so strong that I was able to lean into it and it pushed me back upright!. With a average speed of about 9mph and it was about 3hrs plus until we had reached Brighton which was about 30miles in and this then showed the enormity of the ride as we had another 70 to go until we reached Winchester the halfway point.
I had decided to not use any energy gels or drink on the ride and stick to zero tabs and real food, which lead to a noticeable lack of speed and the difficulty of keeping fed but was much easier on the stomach.
Ian had kindly leant me his small block eights and these were the perfect tyre for the ride as very fast rolling and a godsend of the hard-pack/tarmac sections, Mark was also running these but in their 29er guise.
Just outside of Brighton we found a BP garage with a Marks and Spencer's and a wild-bean cafe, this was a awesome refuel stop and was only metres of the trail, a great spot for pasta, sushi and a coffee and muffin!
We plodded on and eventually came closer to Winchester but the heavens had now started to open and by time we reached the town centre we were soaked. Mark had researched and found a Subway about 50m from the finish so this was our goal. So bikes outside and inside I go to order to foot long meal deals. It was most amusing being on Winchester High Street eating subway and dressed in racing lycra with all the party-goers leaving the the pubs! but oddly no comments maybe too shocked or used to such nutters.
We sadly decided at this point not to ride on has we didn't have the waterproofs/kit to ride safely back for 12hrs in the mud and torrential rain. We tried to get a hotel but decided this would be near impossible given the state of us. So luckily Marks brother who lived nearby picked us up and gave us a bed for the night and we planned to ride the return leg in the morning.
With a few hours sleep and more faff we finally got going about 2pm missing a 20mile section out. As soon as we started we were confronted by loads of riders nearing the end of a 42mile Wiggle ride on the trail and they looked knackered/mud caked from that!
Over the weekend we also saw many riders from "company85" who were completing a 2day event on the trail riding from London to Brighton.
We rode on and managed to get back to our garage to stop for some more real food at a late teatime, this time scotch-eggs is what I craved!
As the light faded we used our Hope LED 4 Epic lights and were really impressed by the spread of light even on the lowest setting on such a open trail.
Lots of strange sights were witnessed over the hills including a couple eating their sandwiches in a transit van in white chemical suits at 10pm, Mark dubbed them "GM crop terrorists" and also a few vehicles grouped together with one having steamed up windows!?!
We eventually arrived at Eastbourne 11:30pm got changed and headed to the McDonald's drive through and enjoyed a late supper with the Chav's.
Drove back to Marks and it was 2am Monday morning and the Goodman family had to be up for the school runs and work at 6:30am.
Shame we didn't manage the Double in one shot but Im sure we will be back soon for another attempt ;)

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