EAST SUSSEX, WEST SUSSEX, HAMPSHIRE & IOW.
UK : 3 days, 3 counties, 1 Island, 8 riders.
Saturday 4th – Monday 6th April 2020.
Think of a ride across the South coast of England and you might come up with a mixed mind of Images. Perhaps there’s the beauty of the South Downs Way with its chalky hills offering vantage points over the inky blue English Channel, or a vision of a region congested with traffic, people in a rush and very little space to ride and feel adventurous.
Sure, this is not the Outer Hebrides down here but its a land that we have grown up in and a place that we are proud of. It has some surprising opportunities to offer the adventurous rider in you. This is where we put down our roots in what is now an exciting movement in the world of cycling. Bikepacking. For a few of team Rpm90 we have been heading out into these hills for decades with things strapped to our bikes and our bodies (think original frame shoulder bags, bum bags, overstuffed saddle packs and equally overfilled jersey pockets) to maximise the hours available to be out and about with your mates before you had to be back at your (school) desk after the weekend.
Those early years of getting familiar with the land were our proving ground for what we do today. Some well-muddied copies of OS maps 196,197 and 198 were the navigational tools of the job. No internet to scan, no Komoot to reveal a bridle path 50 metres from where you are staring head-on at a dual carriageway. These were the days when you could very often know who was out in the hills by the tyre tracks left in the mud. With no way of contacting the mate who rides with Specialized Ground Control tyres (one more worn on the back) other than finding a phone box to phone his mum, who would most likely have no idea where he was, it would simply be a matter of chase him down, even if it took all day. Finding food was a fairly simple thing. Village shops were good, were friendly and opening hours were memorized if they were on your patch. If you got seriously hungry, your mates’ Gran would usually be pleased to see you and offer you a doorstep cheese sandwich, some biscuits and maybe a large glass of Lilt to keep you from the hollow-eyed lower limits of what is now known as ‘bonking’. There were No 24 hr petrol stations to sip on a Flat White and stare at shelves ladened with a potential full weekly shop. Hot drinks were usually for when you got home and had earned them, not after 15 miles. Packing was a simple affair, usually the same kit as always and quite possibly dug back out of the laundry bin. There was only a feel for what’s in the air that morning and John Kettleys previous nights stick up weather forecast to trust what the skies above could throw at you for the weekend. Bikes with canti brakes (or double XT U Brakes in my case) shredding brake pads as they ground down your aluminium Mavics with that wallet-emptying scratchy noise on every wet descent. (That black brake pad gunk that trickled down your frame is kind of missed). Girvin Flexstems to take the edge off the chalk and flint paths. No real dramas in choosing what wheels or tyres would be best. We only had one pair. We would sometimes swap wheels to try the grip of someone else’s tyres but we never swapped with Ian. Ian had a Muddy Fox disc wheel. If the prevailing winds were right you could see him take full advantage of this and suddenly speed ahead whilst his wheel would roar like something out of a Star Wars X wing fighter battle scene. He would hang onto the edge of the South downs way for dear life and it did kind of look cool. Tools were fairly basic and big. Some of us drilled out a spanner like the Crane brothers did to make it lighter (and usually weaker, drilling out a cheap halfords spanner is not advised). Puncture repair kits were very big and very necessary. Spare tubes were repaired over a dozen times. It would be a real treat to buy a new one and sometimes you got them for your birthday with some gloves on a trip to Rayments. Those pioneering South Coast days were brilliant.
We have created our South Coast Overland trip to not only as a great reason to reconnect with a well-ridden youth but to share with you this land rich in history, nature and brilliant riding. Our three-day ride is a great challenge too. There is nothing that’s crazily technical but you will give your legs a good test and some good training with a fully ladened bike. We don’t suggest a rear disc wheel but we do encourage you to give this ride a go if you have a bike capable of carrying you and your kit over a variety of terrain and surfaces. A CX bike, a mountain bike or a gravel bike that your familiar with riding a solid off-road day on will do and we don’t sweat over the minute technicalities of your machine. It will be better than someone else’s bike for a particular section and quite possibly have you challenged and swearing on another. As we all head from A to B it doesn’t really matter. We can seriously overthink our gear ratios, tyre sizes, frame material and the whatnot but it’s a good new-fashioned waste of energy. It’s easy to look at somebody else’s superbike and kit and have your internal inadequacy mini-meltdown before anybody has even said hello. We have been riding these hills long enough to know those first kit impressions are definitely not worth getting in an early ride pickle about. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and none of us make perfect bike or kit choices. We will all learn something if we challenge ourselves and ride with people we know and don’t know. We also ride in small groups and certainly not in an offroad shouty chaingang. Ooof. We aim to roll together and have the ability to split into a couple of groups if we feel it will help. We will all make it for dinner and in the spirit of adventure, we will help each other reach our final destination.
The route will start on Saturday 4th April in Lewes and we will meet in a Local cafe for a top-up of breakfast. You can meet us in Lewes by riding or by rail. If you are heading down from London, there is an 0655 train that will get you to breakfast via Brighton. For those railing it from Brighton, that train departs Brighton at 0811. Riders from an Eastbourne direction can get the 0801.
From Lewes we will climb our fresh legs up onto the hills and head offroad towards Ditchling Beacon before turning South through Stanmner park and towards a possible caffeine top-up by the Beach at Rottingdean. We’ll then cycle path the coast through Brighton and Shoreham and then pop back onto the hills behind Lancing College. From there it’s onwards to our overnight stay in a National trust Bothy on the beautiful Slindon Estate. The estate is 3500 acres of woodland, farmland and downland. In spring we hope to see the arrival of swifts, housemartins and swallows. We will grab some food along the way to cook up in the evening before climbing into our sleeping bags, popping our woolly hats on a catching some zzzz’s to the sounds of hooting owls.
On Sunday 5th We’ll make our breakfast, pack the bikes and head out via The Monarchs Way, part of an ancient route that was taken by King Charles II during his escape after his defeat by Cromwell in the final battle of the civil wars in 1651. We will pass through the Goodwood estate and enjoy some great offroad riding. We will soon get views of the Isle of Wight, our afternoon destination. A steady descent from the hills towards the coast and we will ride past the Farlington Marshes and its amazing diversity of birdlife. During the spring and summer migrations, the Point Field and bushes are hotspots for warblers and other small passerines passing through. Redstarts, spotted flycatchers, wrynecks, wheatears and whinchats are regularly spotted.
A swift negotiation of urban Portsmouth ( a chance to grab some snacks) and we will hop on the Isle of Wight ferry. Here it’s a 45-minute crossing to rest and refuel before a steady off-road traverse of the Island to Yarmouth where we catch our next boat into Lymington. From here its north onto the New Forest and a 15km ride to the warmth and comfort of a nice Hotel in Brockenhurst. We are sure that even 1 night of sleeping in a Bothy and 2 solid days riding that you will enjoy a hotel shower, a comfy bed and dinner in its bar.
On Monday we will wake to the smell of a full English Breakfast. We can leave our bike bags at the hotel and feel the nimbleness of our lightened bikes as we ride up to the good guys at the Woods Cyclery in Lyndhurst. We’ll grab a coffee with them and then head out on to ride with them on some of their local trails before heading back to Brockenhurst, grabbing our kit and saying our goodbyes. Some may ride onwards and for those wishing to grab a train, Brockenhurst is on the mainline to London Waterloo via Clapham so you can easily navigate your way home.
If you want to discuss coming on the trip, whether you have the right kit or whether you’ll be able to do it then get in touch with us either at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01444413512
The trip is limited to 8 rider places and you need to book by Friday 6th March.
- 3 x days guided riding
- 1 x Bacon Sandwich and Coffee in Lewes
- 1 x Night in a Bothy
- 1 x Night in a 3-star Hotel In Brockenhurst
- 2 x Ferry Crossings
- You will need to get to/from Lewes and Brockenhurst
- Contribute towards the Bothy supper and breakfast
- Buy your own ride snacks
- Provide your own kit.*
- CX bike, Gravelbike or Cross Country MTB
- 1 x Set of ride kit
- Bikepacking Bags to carry the following (Apidura rental bags available)
- 1 x Set of wet weather kit
- 1 x set of lights
- tools, repair kit and parts specific to keeping your bike rolling
- 1 x Set of dry and warm overnight kit
- 1 x Sleeping bag
- 1 x headtorch
- Cables for your GPS, Phone etc ( you will be able to charge things overnight and on the ferry)