Our Director, Keith, has just completed his South Downs Way mountain biking challenge for two charities, Cancer Research UK and Home Start.
The South Downs Way run from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex, following the line of the chalk downs. It is over a 100 miles long and involves over 13,000 feet of ascent and descent – that’s a lot of hills to climb with a backpack!
Day 1 – Winchester to Petersfield
We arrived in Winchester on Friday, after driving down from Hertfordshire in the morning. We took our photograph at the Old Mill in the centre of Winchester and headed out of town, over the M3, and up in to the Downs. The weather was mild, but right from that first hill we knew that this trip was not to be underestimated.
I had the first puncture and swapped the inner tube for my spare.
After several ups and downs, we eventually reached our highest point at Butser Hill and then descended, at speed, down the grassy slope to cross the A3 and head in to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. It was now late afternoon and we were keen to get to Petersfield, where our overnight accommodation was booked. However, in the QECP, which is criss crossed by a myriad of biking trails, we missed our turn and went some way before we realised our error. We then had to climb back up (have you noticed that errors are always made downhill, involving an uphill to correct them). By this time my rear tyre was going soft and needed pumping up to keep going.
Eventually we arrived at our B+B, showered and headed out for food.
On returning from food, I repaired my punctured inner tube and hit the hay.
Day 2 – Petersfield to Washington
Day 2 was always going to be tough and it didn’t get off to the best start with my tyre being found flat again.
The others went off to the supermarket while I fixed the new puncture. By the time they got back, my repaired tyre was flat – again! We couldn’t find anything in the tyre itself that could cause the puncture to re-occur, but then my good friend found a slither of aluminium on the inside of the wheel rim – probably produced by the tyre leavers the day before and hence the slow repeated punctures. I sanded down the rim, fixed both inner tubes and we were away – at 10.30, rather than our planned 9.00 departure.
Once we were going we started to pick up the pace a little but were still much further behind than we should have been.
Day 3 – Washington to Lewes
Day 3 started with a climb up from Washington, back on to the South Downs Way.
We know new it was going to be a challenge to get to Eastbourne, being further behind than we should have been, but initially we made good progress.
Some of the views around this part of the Way are fabulous. You can see the coast plain with Brighton and Worthing on the coast and looking out to sea on the horizon.
We passed under Lewes and almost made it to Eastbourne – we could even see the lights in the distance; but alas the light was fading are our very patient driver was waiting to take us back.
Although we didn’t quite get there, ironically – with our bed and breakfast detour, we actually did more miles. Maybe next year 😉