South Downs Way Cycling Challenge
During a glorious weekend in August, a team from Southern Testing cycled the entire length of the South Downs Way, which winds its way along a Chalk ridge from Winchester to Eastbourne. It is one of the toughest mountain bike rides within the UK.
Following an early start, the team drove to Winchester for the start of the 100-mile challenge. Full of energy and enthusiasm the cycling team comprising Engineering Geologists, Drilling Operatives and Field Technicians from Southern Testing started the long ride east to Eastbourne, while enjoying the stunning, panoramic views out to sea and across the Weald, and admiring the geological sites and features along the way in the late summer sun. The hugely important support team provided vast supplies of food and water.
During the first day, a couple of members of the team were (very) close to losing their sense of humour, after being taken out by bushes on a decent at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. With nasty cuts on legs and feeling exhausted, it took a huge amount guts and determination and a little support and encouragement from the rest of team, for them to continue and complete 40 miles of the route. The journey that day took true resilience, which they should be very proud off. The remainder of the team got through the first day pretty much unscathed.
Following a long day, the team arrived at the campsite at Washington, West Sussex. The tents were quickly erected and the team made their way to the pub for a richly deserved pint and meal.
The second day saw team numbers reduce to six, which, following a hearty breakfast of bacon rolls, continued along the trail to Eastbourne. Tired legs were soon put under pressure going up to Chanctonbury Ring, but once they reached the top, the cyclists enjoyed some tremendous South Downs cycle tracks, with fabulous views of Sussex and exhilarating downhills.
Despite several punctures, broken spokes, split tyres, and multiple running races blocking the trail, with the help of a roll of electrical tape and a handy Leatherman, there was nothing that could stop the cyclists. The team completed the entire 100 miles ride with over 3800m of climbing, in a total riding time of 11hrs.
The challenge was extremely tough, but with great enthusiasm and camaraderie, and a tremendous support team, it was a hugely successful trip.
The team would like to say thank you to Southern Testing for their support which included transport and matching team jerseys. And a special thanks to the wonderful support team. Without them we could not have completed the trip.