All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Aborted Southdowns Way at night.

The evening of Saturday 5th April Nick K and I sat on a train heading to Eastbourne to meet Chris and Al.  The plan to ride the Southdowns Way over night. The weather forecast had been looking increasingly challenging, but undeterred we had all headed down.

Cockpit for the evening

We met Chris and Al at Eastbourne station and headed off for our adventure. Nick and I had ridden the SDW single speed previously without nay issues. Chris and Al are both super strong and AL being on a Fatbike, just really evened things up a bit (not much).

Off the tarmac we started the first climb, relatively easily and we all chattered away as the climb meandered up to the top of the first descent.

 On the way up the first climb

Whilst it was not currently raining it had been and it was a bit foggy.  We started descending and at about 8km's into the ride, about half way down the first descent, I went down. I had been slowing down to alter my line for a better one and the front wheel washed.  I don't recall much about the actual crash apart from the moment if was in the air longer enough to realise I was about to hit head first and I managed to tuck my arms in (I had already rag dolled a few times by the this point I am told).

Once everything stopped I slowly rolled over, patted myself down, sat up, by which time the guys had arrived to help and I was checked over.  Heavily bruised cut up and very lucky thanks to my helmet, I somehow managed to continue on.  According to the guys the crash was massive and they feared I was going to be badly hurt. Saved by the helmet and the same greasy surface that had bought me down, I was extremely lucky.

Soon we continued on and not long after, the rain started, the wind got worse and the SDW and weather was about to throw a lot at us. We struggled up some wet climbs, walked some others, we fixed numerous punctures in the wet fog and wind as we went.

The punctures kept occurring in the most exposed positions, and everyone was feeling a bit fed up. But we pressed on.  However, soon there would be a bit of a sense of humor failure from us all as yet another puncture struck for Chris as the wind howled ruthlessly at us. Nick and I decided to start walking up the next hill to keep warm and managed to find some shelter.  Al and Chris, arrived walking, after some time.  Chris' stick on patches weren't adhering, so I gave him some Red Devils as I knew these stuck to anything rubber.  But putting the tube back in, Chris pinched it again.

Although we had some shelter it was still damn windy and colder than we expected and that had been forecast. So we continued slowly to the YHA (one of the tap stops) and hid in the day room, whilst Chris fixed all his punctures.

We had traveled 65kms in about 5 1/2 hrs, much slowly than we expected or liked.  Previously, Nick and I had ridden the whole 162kms in 9 1/2hrs.  With all us feeling cold and myself starting to feel sore, it was time to knock it on the head.  At the next bit of road, it was time to pick the best route home for us and head off.  Nick and I headed directly for Guildford. Chris and Al, for Petersfield and then Winchester, the original goal. But we would all travel by road now.  I also, made the call to Nik, to be picked up as everything was starting to hurt.

As Nick and I slowly got closer to Guildford, I started to struggle to turn the pedals, due to the pain in my right hip and left ankle and slowly fell behind.  However, in time Nik appeared in the van and a warm and comfy lift home was welcomed.

At home on closer inspection, my injuries where actually pretty bad and as I write this two weeks late, my ankle and hip still plague me a bit and I am guessing caused me some issues at the Margam Madness (see race report).

I was bruised, cuts and battered, pretty much tip to toe on my right side.  My left knew and ankle had been sprained and bruised and my neck was starting to get sore from the impact.  Surprisingly the bike was entirely fine, and I had only trashed a jersey and an arm warmer.  Although, my helmet was trashed, two deep slices from the flint on the track, and several breaks in the other places, it was clear that the helmet had done maybe more than keep my out of hospital, maybe a lot more?

So the SDW, will I go back.  Off course, the SDW is a special ride, even if you are never far from a farmhouse or village and at night when there is no fog, you can see the lights on the coast and inland.  It is a special place to ride.  It is this that help me pick myself up of the ground and keep going and if the weather wasn't so poor I might have made it to the end again.  But rest assured I will be back.

Thanks to Nick, Al and Chris for picking me up and checking me over and I am sure, for keeping an eye on me for the rest of the ride that we completed. Thanks gents!

Nik, sorry for the early morning call.  But you know it only happens when it has gone Pete Tong in a massive way.

(Sorry there are no more pictures, it was just too damn foggy)

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