South Downs Way – Day 1

Back in early September, Jamie, Stu and Scotty were joined by their good mate Will for a mini epic. Stu and Scotty had been eyeing up the South Downs Way for a little while and then when chatting to the other two, it became apparent that they were super keen too! Scotty has put their three day epic into words and then it will be followed up by Jamie’s bike/gear set up feature.

With the years plans completely going to pot, we had to think up a few ideas to keep ourselves entertained and those ideas came thick and fast, with the 3t24 trip to Scotland, then Phoebe and Nat’s 200 mile epic it was time (about a week later) for another! SDW has been on the tick list for a while so it seemed only right to get down there whilst the weather was good and there was no racing taking up weekends. The plan was to ride from the start point (Stu’s house near Melksham – Wiltshire) down to Winchester on the Friday afternoon, eat, then hit the trail and ride until we found what seemed like a good spot to stop. Then day two, try and ride the rest of the SDW, finish in Eastbourne, then find a nice grassy spot to kip, then day three ALL the way home! But we had left the Monday free if we had overcooked it – did we overcook it…we may have, a tad…more about that later!

So, one by one we met at Stu’s, coffee was on, chatting was in full flow – this was going to be a mint weekend! Will was getting some last minute bits done to his bike, Stu was getting sorted, I chatted (then thought I’d best get ready too). Jamie turned up next, having ridden from his parents house. So, we’re all there, chatting, farting about…then realised we ought to…

I’m pretty laid back (some of you may know?!)…so are these three. I had a feeling it was going to be a fun weekend, with NO pressure of having to be anywhere in a rush, ok, we may have taken this to the extreme, but…ya know what, we had a right laugh doing it! So, we hit the road and headed towards the off road with a good stretch down the Kennet and Avon Canal, up past the famous Caen Hill locks (all 29 of them) and then soon on to even more rough stuff. The weather was good, we were flying along, messing about, laughing and joking. This is what riding bikes is ALL about, having fun with your mates, full stop and these boys were a right good bunch to be heading south with.

Cruisin’

Rolling across the plains, Stu leading the way following his shiny new Wahoo, Will just behind on a nice long and stoney decent, Jamie and myself just behind and then boom, puncture number one, Jamie must have clipped a stone and but a nice little cut in the sidewall. I tried to call out to the first two as loud as I could, but we then watched them sail into the distance. They noticed we weren’t there when they were the otherside of the hill, they waited, looked and then realised it may not be a simple few minute stop. Back they came and lots of trying to get the tyre to seal, nope, having none of it…spare tube number one was going in.

Puncture number 1…

Back on the tracks and once again, flying along then before we knew it, we were sat on a petrol station forecourt, sandwiches, some ‘pudding’ (mars bars amongst other chocolate type goods) finished off with coffee in a can, living the dream. We then realised we’d best crack on as to give ourselves a good chance of finding somewhere to sleep in the daylight. Yea, that didn’t happen, but, we managed to make it to Winchester before dark, then it was food time (again) and we quickly agreed we’d go and see John for tea, Papa John(s) to be precise and he served up a storm with some bloody massive pizzas. So we sat on the pavement outside the shop and did some more of that chatting we do. Then we decided to get to the start of the SDW and ride until we found somewhere that looked suitable to set up camp. We rode into the darkness, still pretty warm and was such so much fun, just our four headlights lighting the way, then out of nowhere, the perfect spot! A decent little flat spot right up high that had are names on it! Camp was set up, it was time to get warm and star gaze…

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