SOUTH DOWNS WAY AND OTHER LONG DISTANCE RIDING TIPS (OR BIKEPACKING LITE).

The South Downs way is a neolithic trade route which is part of the National Park.  It is has over 10 climbs over the 100 miles.  It is a challenge to do it in 1 day.   There is also a record for doing the DOUBLE - yes 200miles in sub 16hours.  You need to prepare, pack light and get lucky with the weather.  There are water taps along the way, so you do not need to carry 10hours+ of water.  You do need to know where the tap points are.  This Water Bottle has been designed as a visual aid to assist you in completing your SDW challenge.

Note; This is an extended "blog" page that has tips aimed mostly at long distance singlespeeding, cross-country, bikepacking, off-road touring and endurance distance riding.  Ignore the word "Singlespeed" or skip some sections if you insist on using gears.  However this section is about how to ride for over 10 hours at a time.  If you have any suggestions, experience or ideas that you have tried I will add them to the following categories.

With the South Downs Way on our doorstep we will document preparing for single speeding the 100 miles in 1 day, Winchester to Eastbourne.  Where ever you are, there are bridleways and long distance cycle routes that network Great Britain.  Riding these long distance routes is physically demanding on both the bike and the body. 

SO WHERE TO START?

  • Ignore Strava, listen to your body. 
  • Give yourself time to recover.  
  • Singlespeeding does not leave you out of breath, as you effectively pace yourself by having one gear.
  • If your knees hurt or you are out of breath hop off and push.

1. WHAT to EAT:   

FOOD vs ENERGY:

  • Your body will store 1500 calories (Kcal) as glycogen in your muscles. (Rest the week before.)
  • Your body will burn approx 750-1000 Kcal/hour.
  • Your body only absorbs 500 Kcal/hour.
  • Energy drinks 150 Kcal/litre
  • Flapjacks 200 Kcal/ bar

By doing some simple maths, you will see that your energy expenditure is higher than your intake.
So you will need to find the best way for you to refuel your body.

  • Fuel up, in your own way. 
  • Know the signs of "bonking"; irrational thoughts, shallow breaths, stopping constantly. Carry some gels to kickstart again. 
  • Eat before your hungry. 
  • Constant snacking. Every 20mins eat something small.
  • Eat a mixture of things / textures/tastes so you don't get bored and don't suddenly change your ride diet.
  • Listen to your body. 
  • Gels are great but make sure you don't have too many.  
  • Have water and something to eat with them so you don't feel any nausea.
  • Take advantage of the extra boost to metabolise longer burning foods like oats. 
  • Pack food in bags by stages. And always take pies.

2 - WHAT TO EXPECT: 

  • It's not a race unless it really is.
  • Put "way points" on your phone or Top Tube as target times assuming an average speed of 10mph.
  • Average targets are better for the head than current speed sometimes.
  • You WILL be at least 2mph slower than a usual 30-50 mile ride.
  • If soloing, I listen to podcasts, mainly radio 4 stuff.
  • Enjoy yourself

3 -  BIKE SET UP:

  • Less weight, on you, than on the bike.  
  • Consider taking some heavy stuff in a second frame-mounted water bottle. A tube and tools, for instance.  
  • Getting the weight out of your camel back will help on a 12hr journey.
  • "Ride in pairs and split the spares"
  • Get your map reading good. 
  • Train on various sections of the SDW, so that you can learn the trail.
  • Know where the water / food / loo opportunities are and pack extra food / a "shit kit" if far apart.
  • In winter, spare gloves and socks to put on 2/3 of the way breathe new life into you.

There is useful SDW information to be found on the following websites on the buttons below:

...and if you have done all that and want to attempt 200miles....

With thanks to ‏@TransAlpUK @jimdesign @doriandrake @RobAllchin for the following contributions via Twitter and Facebook.