Live2Flow Logo

‘The Flow State is being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter: Every action, movement and thought flows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, you're using your skills to the utmost and the result is a feeling of spontaneous joy.’ - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Live2Flow is the concept of a man trapped in an unfulfilling career who decided to pursue a life of Flow.  This blog is documents the activities of a man who swapped a desk for the great outdoors, dedicating himself to better his personal performance in his chosen sports and to pursue his passion of coaching and training others; the objective is to literally Live2Flow.  This is not a selfish obsession, Live2Flow aims to take these experiences to others and through passionate coaching and guiding help them experience Flow for themselves.

South Downs Way Challenge

Dismayed by my body’s catastrophic failure in the TransRockies I had embarked upon another 6 week period of focused cycling training to prepare for my next event, the Trans-Provence.  It was both looking for a way to properly test myself before the event and an opportunity to complete a long overdue ambition that left me stood astride my trusty Jekyll at 0720 in Winchester at the start of the South Downs Way.

Although September, the forecast was good and one hundred miles of largely dry, rolling trails lay between me and the finish in Eastbourne – what could possibly go wrong?!?!  And for once, the answer was ‘very little’ as I made good progress towards my destination throughout the day.  The signage is a little ropey in places leading to a bit of doubling back and the occasional scratching of the head as I stared intently at the Garmin 800’s little screen but aside from a few diversions the trail was remarkably easy to follow considering the minimal preparation I had done.  It would be fair to say that I was ‘overbiked’ on the Jekyll and a hardtail may be a more efficient choice for this ride, but I needed to ride my T-P bike for the effort to have the best affect on my preparations and the extra bounce made things comfy towards the end.

The speed of progress stayed really steady throughout the ride.  The first 23 miles, which I was totally unfamiliar with, took just over 2 ½ hours leaving me at QE Park café for a bacon sandwich and tea at 1000.  Revitalised, I pressed on with the next section.  This part of the trail I ride fairly regularly and it was a real joy to ride it continuously in one direction, blitzing past all my local trails.  This ended when I stopped for lunch at Amberley, now 5 ½ hours and 48 miles into the ride.  It took longer than I had hoped to replenish with sandwich, cake, tea and refill my hydration pack but I was back on the bike in 45 mins and heading into the second half of the ride.

At about 64 miles I met up with a friend who was on day 2 of attempting to walk the SDW in 4 days.  He had walked 10 miles that morning and looked in far worse condition than me (he sadly had to retire after finishing day 2)!  Strangely buoyed I continued and reached Ditchling Beacon about 1820 and realized I was running out of daylight.  I still had 29 miles to ride and less than 90 mins of daylight so arranged for my lift to meet me at Alfriston rather than heading straight to Eastbourne.  This provided a timely boost of food and water levels along with the vital addition of lights for my final push.

Restarting the ride with 10 miles to go the going was initially very tough.  I had failed to pack a helmet light and did not know this part of the trail so was making really slow progress having to stop at every junction to illuminate the signs before moving on.  Luckily, I caught up with a very friendly local who was out on an evening ride and who immediately volunteered to be my guide when I explained what I was attempting.  Relieved of navigation concerns, the last 9 miles flew by as we raced towards the sea and my finish line.  Then suddenly, we popped out onto Eastbourne promenade and it was a simple short roll down to the pier.

Sat eating fish and chips (a thought that had kept me going for the previous 15 miles!!) I was able to dwell upon what I had achieved; despite living only 15 miles from the South Downs Way it had taken me 10 years to finally get around to riding it end to end. It was 13hrs and 47mins between leaving Winchester and arriving at Eastbourne of which I had been moving for 10hrs and 44mins, covering 101 miles and climbing 3500m.  Of course, I immediately started to think how much quicker I would be able to ride it with more support, totally in daylight and with more knowledge of the route…. maybe next summer!!!

For those interested in statistics, the Strava file is here.

Created on 11-Oct-2012 at 17:19