Event 16 - The South Downs way by Mountain bike

The main bulk of this blog with be written by my best support crew, number one fan and husband, William Naylor. He has been supporting me and others during thirty4thirty. Some of the events he has taken part in. This event was a huge challenge for me as I was so exhausted from an extremely hard mountain expedition just before the start. Will joined me throughout the South Downs way; it turned the arduous 100miles into an adventure. Will was there through the literal highs and lows and is able to write about his event from a different point of you. Thank you Will...

 The view from the top of Butser hill

The view from the top of Butser hill

 Some big hills

Some big hills

This event was always going to be fun but tough. Abbi returned from Elbrus in Russia late on Sunday evening knowing we were leaving at 0600 for Winchester to start the challenge. I prepped the bikes and kit ready for an early start although was completely distracted by Wimbledon and World Cup finals. We set off at 0710 on a warm Monday morning out of Winchester and straight into it! We said goodbye to our support crew (Abbi's parents) with orders of salmon sandwiches and pork pies with lime pickle for lunch. if you haven't tried pork pies with lime pickle, do it! You'll never look back! After 11 miles we met the support crew at Exton in a pub car park. The support crew were chasing us down the road to get there before us; we managed 37mph on a lane down hill! We were going well and, after circling the next meeting point on the map, we were off. Then it got hot, VERY hot! The heat made cycling very tough as you are slower on a mountain bike and create less wind. Also the high hedges made their own sun traps for us. There were a couple of brutal hills culminating with the summit of Butser Hill. We then had an epic downhill down the other side across open grass. The inner child was free once more! I was then brought down to earth again with the realisation that the point I had given the support crew was about 35 miles from the last one! Oops! Grumpy Abbi. We eventually got to the checkpoint just past Graffham and inhaled salmon and cream cheese, yum! Off to Washington next at the 54 mile point. 9 1/2 hours after leaving Winchester we arrived at Washington to some very welcome cold beers and a shower. We were both burnt to a crisp and in need of some rest before day 2.

 A rest after Day 1 in Washington 

A rest after Day 1 in Washington 

 The best village shop ever in Amberly

The best village shop ever in Amberly

 Tough Times 

Tough Times 

Day 2 was a little shorter but a lot more hilly. The checkpoints were planned out a little better this time and off we went at 0600 to try and beat the heat. Next stop Devil's Dyke for breakfast. After a huge climb in already hot temperatures we arrived at the viewpoint for coffee and breakfast. It was at this point I realised I was not bike fit... the legs were fine but my butt was killing me! Saddle soreness in heat is not fun, fact. The next stage was stunning with a rolling ridge-line to cycle along. We were so glad it was dry as it would have been a lot slower and more slippery in the wet. We took our time a little more on day 2 as we were more tired and the hills were a lot more regular and steep. We did however stop for a lovely ice cream! We had to take the inland route to Eastbourne which neither of us had done before. After 18 1/2 hours in the saddle, 100 miles of off road cycling and over 4000m of ascent (over 3x Snowdon) we reached the pier at Eastbourne ready for another massive ice cream! The South Downs is truly stunning but hard to do in 2 days, especially in the heat. A highly recommended adventure but remember 3 things: 1, easier over 3 days. 2, definitely one to do in the dry. 3, get bike fit and bring lube!!

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Thanks Will for writing the blog, it made me smile. It was a great adventure but as Will mentioned do it over a few days. Also if I was to do it again I would want to have fresh legs and not have Climbed mount Elbrus just days before. I had a very low moment where the tears were flowing and thinking why have a set myself this stupid challenge. Then I remember how far I have come and what an incredible charity this is all in and of. All of the donations and support are really making a difference. Knowing that all of these hard endurance events are worth it. 

Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me (and Will).  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

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Thank you so much x