Mountain Biking on the South Downs | August 5, 2004

Over the last month or so I’ve been getting really into Mountain Biking. Before this summer the closest my bike had been to a mountain was the slight incline up the hill to where I live. However in the last month I’ve been getting out on my bike twice a week and thoroughly enjoying it. I think it’s partly that I’m getting bored of the gym, and partly that the weather’s been too nice to be stuck indoors. Luckily Brighton is right on the edge of the South Downs so it’s only a 15min bike ride to get into the countryside.

Last night I went out for a really nice ride with Richard Rutter and Pete Barr-Watson. Pete took us on a great trail starting at Stanmer Park, winding it’s way up to The South Downs Way and culminating in 20min downhill section coming out by the University. The round trip took around 2hrs, although it would have been a lot quicker had I not gotton a flat and then broken my chain!

If you’re interested in doing the trail it’s a pretty easy one to follow. Starting at the Entrance to Stanmer park, you follow the main road up to the agricultural college and then take the trail to the right hand side. You follow this trail up to the top of the hill where you reach a large electricity pylon. Here you hit a cross road and you need to carry straight over and down thought a heavily wooded track. Don’t hammer it too hard down here as the trail stops abruptly at a gate. Carry on through the gate and up another incline to a second gate at the top. Looking to your left you’ll see a trail heading along the side of the hill. That’s where you’re aiming for. Go through the gate and follow the trail along to the left. About halfway along you turn left and you’re now on the trial you saw earlier. Carry along here though some nice undulating countryside and you’ll hit a couple of more gates, the last one taking you onto the South Down Way.

Taking a right onto the South Down Way you cycle for around 10 minutes until you hit a road that goes into a farm. Cross the road and take the track on the right down the side of the farm. After a few minutes you’ll hit another gate on the other side of the farm. Go though this and you’ll be on a nice, chalky downhill section that lasts about 8-10 minutes depending how fast you’re going. This track comes out to a road by a farmhouse. Follow the road around and it starts to climb uphill. If you carry along this road it comes out by the side of the University. However just before the peak of the hill is a little single track that dips down into some dense forest skirting the University playing field. This is a lovely ‘off road’ track that makes the effort getting here worth the while. Keep following the track, making sure you don’t hit any trees or get knocked off by low hanging branches, and you’ll end up coming out in the middle of the University. From here you cut through the University grounds to the front of the building. Taking a track to the right, you skirt past the University gym building and end up back at the entrance to the Park.

Posted at August 5, 2004 4:00 PM


waylman said on August 5, 2004 8:09 PM

Welcome to the club. Unfortunetly I haven’t been out only a few times this year. A few years ago, however, I rode 3 times amost every week. It really felt good. I need to try a little harder over the next few months.

Tom said on August 5, 2004 8:12 PM

Most of all, remember not to pull a George Bush. ;)

Stephane said on August 6, 2004 4:54 AM

I use to bike at least 1000 km in the summer month (june to the beginning of september) but a couple of knee injuries kept me from doing anything in the last couple of years.

Just reading about mountain biking bring a smile to my face. I just wish I was closer to the countryside, it would push me harder to get back on my bike.

Jim Amos said on August 6, 2004 10:02 AM

Helps me recall good memories of cycling around Wiltshire. Why though, whenever you ride in a group, does one person always get a flat and brake a chain? It used to be me more often than not. Although my friend Martin did the worst thing: his bike was so old and decrepit that his handlebar kept coming off and his tires were so bald he almost rode on the rims. Still he managed to ride about 14 miles before giving up lol

Pete Barr-Watson said on August 6, 2004 10:10 AM

it was a fun ride Andy. Good to meet Richard too, at last! I shall work on my fitness over the next few months so that we can get some decent night riding in during the autumn/winter too.

glad you enjoyed the route…

Robert Lofthouse said on August 6, 2004 11:48 AM

I used to bike around the countryside in North Yorkshire a lot. Biking around London doesn’t seem to be a good idea though, what with all the public transport crazed people, so i’ll just exercise indoors :P

Adam said on August 6, 2004 3:45 PM

Sounds like you’ve been bitten - you’ll be at sleepless in the saddle next year.

Paul K said on August 6, 2004 5:42 PM

What bike do you ride, we need pics!
I live in sunny manchester and get out for a blast in the peaks about once a week. I can highly recommend the loops around Ladybower and Castleton and Macclesfield forest, if your ever up this end of the woods.
All the routes are taken form the excellent book by Paul Wake - deceptively named ‘Mountain Biking in the Peak District’

Pete Barr-Watson said on August 7, 2004 11:44 AM

Have to agree with Paul - the Peak is probably the best place I’ve ever been Mountain Biking…

entertainment news said on August 8, 2004 6:57 AM

What kind of bike do you have? I attempted mountain biking once, but I became dead tired after 5 minutes of biking uphill. I had a cheap bike, does this make a difference?

Andy Budd said on August 9, 2004 8:31 AM

I’d love to say that I’ve got a shit hot, 2000 bike but I’m afraid I don’t. In fact I’ve got an 8+ year old Raleigh bike I got from a bike shop in Chorlton when I lived up in Manchester.

I realise that I need to get a half decent bike if I’m going to get into biking more. I reckon that 600 will probably get me a good, entry level mountain bike. I can’t really justify spending any more on a bike, especially on my salary!

I’ll no doubt try and get some bike advice off Pete and Rich, but if anybody has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

paul k said on August 9, 2004 8:29 PM

Andy, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know ‘The Horse & Jockey is still going strong in Chorlton.

Mountain Bike Rider magazine tested the best sub 400 bikes a couple of months ago (June issue) with the ‘Claude Butler - Cape Wrath’ coming out on top scoring 9 out of 10, the review concludes:

“We don’t know how Claude Butler does it for the money; it must be practically giving this bike away. Not that we are complaining, as the Cape Wrath is a stunning bike. Its fully loaded in every department and easily takes this years honors. The best bike here by far and one of the best Dirty Dozen bikes we’ve ever tested.”