Forum home Mountain biking forum MTB general

South Downs Double for H&IoWAA in 19:35:38!

thomasmorristhomasmorris Posts: 373
edited April 2015 in MTB general
In 2015 I will attempt to complete the South Downs Way 100 mile off-road trail, twice, non-stop. And hopefully raise some money in the process! I thought some on BikeRadar may be interested to read about my experiences so I will try and post updates here as and when.

Just Giving Page

How I've got here... I've always enjoyed cycling, but in 2009 things got a little more serious and along with two friends I rode the 100 mile off-road South Downs Way (SDW) over two days. It took 14 hours on the bike and I was wrecked for days!

Since 2009 I've spent increasingly more time on bikes, accomplishing a goal of the SDW in less than 10 hours in 2011, a good benchmark I thought!

In 2012 I got a road bike and the saddle time increased and my one way time fell, to under 9 hours in 2013 and last July I set a best of 7 hours 47, one of the faster times one way.

The challenge ahead... This year I will ride the SDW, then turn around and ride straight back, hopefully completing the trip in under 24 hours unsupported. Sounds simple... But the double is so much more than twice the distance: it's navigating the route and obstacles in the dark, it's carrying food and drink for two days and it's sleep deprivation.

I've started a blog on WordPress so people can follow what I'm doing:

I've done a couple of blogs already on my bike and the double attempt and hope to post regularly on all aspects of by double attempt.

And obviously there's strava also:


  • A few new blog posts about my mountain bike, myself, and my Chinese import road bike.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 14,770
    It's a good thing you're doing here and not easy.
    Is your road bike really called Aching Wang? You must have made that up!
  • As it was unbranded I had to think of something to call it... I ordered it just after the 2012 Olympics and I'd seen an article on facebook 'top ten funniest names at the olympics' and Aichen Wang ( a Chinese sailor) was there.

    So, I do a lot of sailing, the bike is Chinese, and Aichen Wang has obviously funny connotations for a bike given that many people complain of an aching wang after hours in the saddle! It seemed a pretty perfect name!
  • A post about my previous South Downs Way rides and how things have changed over the years. Have a read!
  • New blog post today... all about functional threshold power testing! Certainly one for roadies and xc racers rather than the general enthusiasts.
  • Busy week of blogging! An overview of my training plan, it's basically just going to be a alot of hard work!:
  • A bit of road racing to hone the top end on this week's blog:
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Good results, well done on the win.
  • Moving to training with power:

    Also some road racing reports from Perfs Pedal and some crit racing at Ludgershall
  • I'm just looking in to options for my GPS to track the ride.

    I have a Garmin 500 currently and have done 12 hours with it still more than 70% full on battery... but I'm not sure if I trust the battery level displayed?

    Does anyone have any experience using the 500 for long rides. Obviously the SDW will take me up to 24 hours and I would like to be able to record the whole ride.

    Any tips for increasing battery life?

    Any tips for charging on the go?
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Most of the Edge series can be charged by any of the many external battery packs - I've a feeling the 500 is the exception, so you need a USB OTG cable to make it work.
  • Thanks, OTG? On the go?

    So I buy a OTG cable and any external battery pack? I'll need to get a way of mounting it to access the cable port too!
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Yep, apparently. not tried it first hand - so worth checking before you do the ride! Zip ties will work surely, doesn't need to be anything special and it doesn't sound like you need a large capacity battery.
  • Yes, I'll have a look and see if I can order the correct pack and cable! The other option is just to borrow another unit off a mate and set it running if mine dies. Could always stitch the ride together after.

    No sure which is more inconvenient, finding a place to mount my existing unit so it can be plugged in and carrying the battery pack or sticking a second unit in my pocket and having the hassle of stitching rides.
  • I've put an order in for a Gomadic charger specific for the 500... I'll let you know how I go on.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Very good. Don't forget to give me a push when you overtake me at Black Park on Sunday.
  • Oh you'll have to say hi is you see me, I'll be in Portsmouth North End kit... not sure who will be giving who a push though!

    Out of interest have you raced there before? I've got a pretty warn Racing Ralph out back and Rocket Ron front at the minute and I'm thinking of changing to bonty mud-x that I have in the loft.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Haha, black/yellow Beyond Mountain Bikes kit on a black/green Superfly - in the Experts, so setting off a few mins infront of you, but woefully unfit, and in the vicious throes of manflu!

    I have raced there loads, it'll be very wet I suspect after the recent weather. It's not at all cloggy, just very flat, rooty and wet. I've got Beavers on at the moment, and will probably stick with them. You'll be fine on Ralph/Ron, may just be a bit slidey. There's a reasonable amount of fireroad, so your call on how much of a trade off you want between faster rolling and grip.
  • I kept the almost slick racing ralph on... seemed fine.

    Race report here:
  • Training update, little bits of preparation: light, GPS and food.

    And most importantly, why I'm raising money for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance:

    South Downs Way Double: Why the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance?

    Last year, whilst racing I was involved in a crash. It was all of a bit of blur,but to all intents and purposes I was fine. Unfortunately, other riders were not. In particular a Richard Phillips-Scholfield was very badly injured. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance were quickly on the scene and transported Richard to hospital. Tragically, Richard died later in hospital of his injuries.

    I didn’t know Richard but from all I’ve read since he seemed like a really fantastic guy. I’m not doing this in his name, I haven’t contacted his family and I’m not a close friend. However, the accident did affect me. Firstly, my fiancé, now wife, and both my parents and a few friends were all there watching, horrified. Yet, everyone seemed impressed with the response of the emergency services and took some comfort in knowing that should the worst happen there would always be that service available.

    Ignorantly, I had always assumed that the air ambulance was publicly funded, and obviously following the accident and reading it to it further I became aware that this is far from the truth. Obviously, there are things we can all do to be safer, but sometimes accidents do happen, and I like having the peace of mind that whilst the H&IoWAA won’t always be able to save the day, they can give those who need help the best possible chance. If you ride a bike, I’m sure you’ll agree. If you don’t, I’m sure you can think of circumstance where you might need their help.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Good luck with your ride. I have ridden the SDW numerous times and rode the section from Winchester to QECP only yesterday - conditions are pretty good considering the time of year. One piece of advice is that you're putting yourself at a disadvantage not riding tubeless - on recent SDW rides the guys riding tubes experienced multiple punctures whereas those running tubeless didn't.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Don't worry, I am riding tubeless! Going to carry a couple of tubes though as spare as I've had a few slits which wouldn't seal in the past.

    The weather is looking good for an attempt this Saturday, so fingers crossed it stays dry!

    Here's the latest blog post with provisional timings for the day.

    My current thinking, as you can see from the timings is to start early morning at twighlight, and ride the last few hours in the dark. This works at the moment as it ensures I get all available daylight in the ride, so preserving my batteries.

    I had toyed with the idea of starting at midnight, so I could finish in the light, which would be easier than riding in the dark whilst tired and when you're body clock is telling you it's time for bed. At the moment it's just not quite light early enough to make that strategy work though as I'd run out of battery potentially before dawn. The other downside to that strategy is you miss a full nights sleep the night before/ of the ride, whereas starting at dawn I get a decent sleep in before the ride.
  • A bit of rain has crept in to the forecast, but I'm still going to go, if I have to bail it will at least serve as a good dress rehearsal for an attempt latter.

    Bike set up below...
  • And... failure...

    I'll be back at it very soon though...
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Hard luck. Rain was miserable on Saturday, I got caught in it just on a 3 hour road ride and soon got cold, not surprised it made for an unpleasant experience.
  • So here it is, the hardest thing I've ever done on a bike. I had no idea how hard this would be and learnt a lot about myself on the return leg. In the end my stomach gave up at Eastbourne, I 'bonked' shortly afterward and grovelled back to Amberley with no food or drink, being sick 4-5 times.
    Arriving in Amberley and seeing my wife and good friend was pretty emotional and I was about to pack it in; fortunately a pep talk was given and I carried on. Finally getting a banana to stay down .
    Eventually I arrived back in Winchester, 19:35:38 after leaving. I'm sure I wouldn't have made it without the support online, out on the trail, and in the justgiving page (there is still time to donate: .

    Strava link:

    Thanks for reading!
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Well done! Donated, a worthy cause, and whilst I didn't know Richard personally I did race with him and we had a number of mutual friends.
  • TwellyTwelly Posts: 1,437
    I have been stalking your Strava for a while and although your training has been insane, I still wasn't sure if the double was realistic. Mental ride mate, well done, will be donating. Might see you out on a PNE club ride soon, I have just moved back within decent distance of the George.
  • Thanks! Hopefully see you for a club run soon!

    Final blog post on the ride here:
  • Gs2143Gs2143 Posts: 3

    Its been interesting and useful to read the details of your trip. Im doing the same route but with a stopover in Winchester overnight. Do you have any advice that you would like to have known before you set out?

Sign In or Register to comment.