In the summer of 2006, George Budd and Sharon Laws rode the South Downs Way both ways, supported by Paul and Frank from Thetford MTB racing. Riding one way in 10.5 hours and taking 13 hours for the return leg, they would have completed the ride in under 24 hours except for the leisurely lunch and spot of sun-bathing that stretched their overall time to the 30 hour mark.
George now rides for Salsa Factory Racing, and is busy delivering impressive results for them. Sharon has gone on to join Team GB for the 2008 Olympics, where she and Emma Pooley helped Nicole Cooke to gold in the Womens road race (the South Downs Way is clearly good training for Olympians!).
Congratulations to them both on completing the challenge, and here is George's own report of their ride.
So the short story is... we made it, all 202 miles of it. We rode from Beachy Head (the viewpoint round bench thing) to Winchester, down into the town, round the statue of a bloke with a sword then back to Beachy Head in 23.5hrs of riding.
The gauntlet is laid to anyone to beat our time!
The first thing we noticed was a charity ride happening the same weekend! Very useful as it was running either way down the SDW so it was marked with day-glo orange arrows and tape the whole way. Brilliant in the dark! Can't imagine what it must have taken to mark out a 100 mile track in 2 directions.
The first leg seemed to go ok, it was over pretty quickly (10.5hrs). This was the first time I'd ridden the SDW starting in Eastbourne, and to be honest I found it nicer than the other way round - having the slogs up from Southease, Alfriston and Jevingon at the end going the other way is always a killer!
The return leg was slower - 13hrs - and much harder. The stretch from the Roman ruins 4 miles the Winchester side of Storrington to Devil's Dyke took forever and seemed uphill all the way. I think we averaged about 7mph for those 14 miles. Most of the lost time compared to the first leg happened in this section. I started hallucinating, seeing 2 men with spades waving at me that turned out to be bushes. Sharon (my ride buddy) was seeing pig/sheep hybrid animals and talking to them.
It stayed dry the whole time, I got the most comical tan lines I've ever had and now need some new legs :)
I got through:
I must thank Paul and Frank from Thetford MTB Racing for their support during the ride, without their van driving, food cooking and general encouragement we would never have completed it! Also, thanks to Specialized for the excellent kit I used for the ride, the Epic made the perfect bike for this trip as it was light enough and I didn't have to keep fiddling with lockout levers and suspension platform adjusters, just what you need at 3am!
Finally, a big thanks and hug to Sharon for keeping me going and awake :)