South Downs Way Bikepacking

A UK bikepacking trip

Last week I rode the South Downs Way, I chose to ride it solo and at a touring pace, rather than trying to race it, to test my body, my mind and my bike setup. I wanted to spend some long days in the saddle and see what was a comfortable day for me. I was pleased with how the ride went, and despite a few bits of kit failure, my setup worked flawlessly.

The route is 165km long, climbs over 12,500ft and runs the length of the South Downs from Winchester to Eastbourne. the route is regularly ridden in one day while it also make a perfect first bikepacking trip touring it over 2 or 3 days. There are very few shops / cafes / accommodation options actually on the route, so it can be ridden entirely self supported but knowing you’re never far from help / bail out if things don’t go to plan.


I’d be happy to offer a guided / supported trip along the SDW if there is sufficient interest (minimum of 3 riders) and could combine the trip with an ‘intro to bikepacking’ course so that by the end of the ride you have all the skills you need to plan and execute your own solo bikepacking trips.

To book any of our UK bikepacking courses, or our MTB skills courses at Cannock Chase please go to our bookings page here

I’ve put together some of the footage from the trip, more to give folk an idea of the terrain than anything else. This film is 10minutes long so feel free to fast forward any sections that are of less interest to you personally. Future films will all have soundtracks now I have a source of decent copyright free music.

For the facts and figures geeks – Day one was 103km (plus about 5km detour to a pub) of riding in fine weather and mostly good trail conditions, I was on the bike for approx 10 hours and properly stopped for a little under 2 hours, the rest of my stops were for navigation, filming or quick snacks and wildlife spotting. Day two was 62km (plus about 6km for the connections to train stations at either end) of riding in very high side and headwinds. I stopped far more on day two for extra food, shelter and breaks from the wind. It was 9 hrs from me getting on the bike, to finishing the ride, but during that time I stopped at two cafe’s and had a number of other long breaks fro food out of the wind.
I rode my Surly Krampus Ops on this trip with a mix of homemade and Alpkit bags. I killed a set of brake pads (that were already on their way out), a seatpost and think the BB is also now dying.

Carbon-Monkey are a specialist MTB skills course provider who run mountainbike courses in North Wales, the Lake District, Peak District, Scotland and on Cannock Chase. We grew up riding the trails of Snowdonia and MTB all over North Wales. From Jumps and Drops courses to multi day MTB expeditions, at Carbon-Monkey we are ready to welcome you on a MTB skills course that will provide real improvement to your riding. MTB skills are our passion and Bikepacking adventure expeditions our escapism, when will you join us?

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