Our 100 mile South Downs Way Microadventure took us from Winchester, through the night and into the blistering heat in Eastbourne.
There aretales of broken spokes, multiple punctures, stupid crashes, Wasp stings, honeywater energy drinks and tinned fish as energy food. There was not fanfare at the end, we just looked like a bunch of Saturday riders.
23:45 Winchester Start. At night it was a hot 18degC, but the 6-9mph headwind was a cooling friend. This was only half of it though by 8:00 it tipped over 20+ degrees and was reached 28degC as the final few came in.
Well done to everyone for even attempting the SDW. We did all we could to prepare, but sometimes things do not roll your way. Everyone endured between 11 and 13+ hours of riding, with 4hours in sheltered pockets of heat being reflected off the chalk.
The 5 singlespeeders and 3 geared (support crew) set off in "buddy" pairs.
1 Singlespeeder DNF. 2 Gear DNF.
Amazingly the only geared rider to complete was reduced to 3 gears.
At low points like this, the topic turns to singlespeeding, but we tried not to labour the point.
Things that were learnt:
Ride Buddy system:
Riding in a large group, the buddy system is a great idea. Your buddy is matched on speed, stamina and helps you through the hard times.
My buddy was like a rock, even offering to push my bike, after I had a stupid crash involving a rut, my front wheel and my inner thigh.
I could remember most of the SDW, however I did make some wrong turns after and QEP we had to retrace at 3 places.
Learn the profiles, so that you metally prepare for the hill climbs to come.
Enjoy the ride.
There is a lot of suffering, so micro breaks for photos and refueling are to be savoured with a veiw.
If we wanted to do it faster of course we would choose gears and hope for dry weather and no mechanicals.
We chose singlespeed, as there is less to go wrong and less to think about.
There is nothing as magical as watching the sunrise while riding and the South Downs Way is one of those special places.
Just so happened that we seemed to time our ride for Chanctobury Ring - magic!
Suffering is only temporary and the body recovers - your bike may not.
The good thing about a microadventure like this, is that it will always be different.
We are already talking about planning the next one.