20230601 Great British Escapade - North and South Downs

I decided to have a crack at my first multiday event back in December 22 and signed up for the Great British Escapades starting on June 1st at 5pm, a figure of 8 course from Canterbury to Canterbury using as many sections of single track, bridleways and difficult assents as humanly possible Including the Pilgrims Way, North downs and South Downs. I then started a structured training program which was interrupted by various ‘old man’ conditions but I thought I’d give it a go anyway despite not being 100%. So was I ready for the 488km with no flat bits with a max training ride of 130km?

110 of us lined up at 17:00 last Thursday, mostly skinny gravel racers with a few of us old MTB nuts thrown in at the back. As usual the pace was hectic from the off and after a lot of steep hike-a-bike and sections of the Pilgrims Way I got an hours sleep in a field near Tatsfield at 3:30am. Friday took me through to Newlands and up to St Marthas and along to the Devils Punchbowl then a lot of hike-a-bike through to the South Downs. My strategy was to sleep as little as possible, ride as slowly as possible and then get slower and by Friday afternoon I’d started picking some of the faster riders off.

Saturday was a killer ride from 5am along the Downs in the heat and constant head wind to Alfriston by tea time, and then a big push to Bewl water by 10pm so I had as little to do as possible on the last day. 

A 4am start on Sunday was followed by a route around Bedgebury single track and a lot of road hills and bridleways back, via every hill climb possible to Canterbury by 13:55. About 64 hours in total.

I completed this on a titanium rigid MTB which was too much bike, especially for the road sections but was lovely on the descents. I’ll now looking for a secondhand gravel bike, anyone? (53cm).  I also carried a lot of kit that I thought was necessary but wasn’t really. I’ve bought back 70% of my food as I bought and ate along the way.

Things I will remember;

  • Hallucinations are only temporary, the pain cave does have a through exit, just keep spinning.
  • Oh and Sudocreme, wonderful Sudocreme, Dublin’s finest, -  enough said 😉

 Would I do it again? Ask me in 6 months

Phil Scott

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