Got to the start (Beachy Head) an hour early to chill out – indulged in an ice cream (pre-race energy!) Cracking view from the top.
Start was 6.45pm – half an hour later than anticipated – about 90 people ready to head off. Participants include Alpine record holder (one of only four riders to complete the South Downs Double in less than 24 hours) + sponsored riders, Ellsworth, Whyte etc with some nice bits of kit!
Started off with a nice steady pace, but glancing at heart rate monitor realised it had hit the 140’s already – put this down to the adrenaline of the start. After a while it gradually came down and settled to a more realistic rate.
Conditions were good, almost perfect and managed without lights for about an hour.
First light to be activated was the joystick on the helmet which had a burn time of approximately 12 hours on max with a 3 cell piggy back battery which was brilliant.
Feeling good and pushed the pace on, reaching Alfriston in good time, riding with a group of other riders but found that we chopped and changed places as some found certain parts easier than others. In the end I found it easier to ride my own race for a short time and concentrate on my own pace.
After about an hour I met up with a faster group and tucked in with them which was good in some respects but was a downfall when we went wrong. I’d taken my eye off the GPS and lost approximately 15/20 mins with an additional steep hill and an increase in the heart rate!
At this point I decided to try where I could to stick to my own pace and keep my eye firmly on the GPS! Felt that my pace was slower than normal as my familiarity with this section of the route was not as good as the latter parts – everything looks different in the dark.
The first checkpoint was Falmer but decided not to stop for food, only for my split time (2:44:53) and pushed ahead.
Reached Devil’s Dyke and I now felt I was in more familar territory and therefore didn’t feel so reliant on the GPS. Truleigh Hill seemed to come up really quickly, the second checkpoint (4:31:05) and was a welcome sight as the fluids had just run out. Also partook of a flapjack here, I’d been eating small amounts along the whole route but an additional sugar boost was very welcome.
Moved on from TH fairly quickly – its difficult to judge how long to stop sometimes, you need that break, but at that time of night too long and legs start to seize up.
Met Kerry at Shoreham at about half eleven for quick coffee, oiled the chain and off again. Nearly half way!
Reaching Amberley Mount there was such a pleasant realisation that I wouldn’t have to go up all the hills I’d just gone down – I guess that is the only downside of the South Downs Double! Well one of them anyway!
Crossing the River Arun, the mist and fog had started to descend which slowed the pace and concentration levels were at their most crucial as the going was starting to get slippery. The tiredness also starts to kick in which only adds to the drama. Up to this point the helmet light had sufficed but then decided to add the handlebar light (Enduro Maxx) to give some extra assistance. Leaving the river area the fog lifted which was a welcome relief.
Checkpoint three was halfway up Bury Hill near Amberley (6:25:17) and here the barbecue run by South Downs bikes was in full swing! Quick stop here as the cold was definitely starting to set in – the beefburger was tempting but worried about the effect it might have later so declined.
Cocking was checkpoint no 4 (7:41:20) about half 2 in the morning, where I met Kerry and the team from Maxx Exposure who made everyone very welcome with offers of hot drinks, extra clothing and lights if needed. At this point I was told I was probably about 22nd – but difficult to get an accurate reading – but this certainly spurred me on.
Passed a couple more riders on the last push to the finish but being careful not to overdo it at the last minute, the cold was definitely starting to set in, as were the joint aches.
Getting to the QE Park was such a relief until I realised that I couldn’t actually find the official finish! Panic started to set in, assisted by tiredness and cold but a quick call to Kerry guided me into the finish line (where I nearly took out the official in my relief to finish!) This whole journey had taken 9 hours, 18 minutes. Its easy to look back and think I could have saved a bit of time here and there and not got lost in the first section but hindsight is a wonderful thing and I’m just pleased to have done it. I anticipated a final time of 11-12 hours so felt that I had done myself proud.
Checkpoint 1 2:44:53 (2:44:53)
Checkpoint 2 4:31:05 (1:46:12)
Checkpoint 3 6:25:17 (1:54:12)
Checkpoint 4 7:41:20 (1:16:03)
Finish 9:18:08 (1:36:48)
Average heart rate = 125
Maximum heart rate = 156
Heart rate between 140-160 = 1 hour 25 mins
Bowl of pasta
Ice cream with flake! Yummy!
3/4 sliced loaf with peanut butter and jam (yes together!)
2 cliff bars
2 crunch bars
3 flap jacks
Approximately 6 litres of water
Approximately 2 litres of water mixed with orange juice with small amount of salt
Couple of slurps of coffee!