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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 127 > THE SOUTH DOWNS


They say variety is the spice of life – how hot do you like your spice?

All I could think about was a pint of ice-cold Coke. And I don’t even drink Coke. In truth, it wasn’t all I could think about, nor was it even the treat I’d desired most at that precise moment – that would have been a plunge into the icy, clear, blue-green waters of a tumbling mountain stream. But that was just never going to happen near Worthing.

The chilled sugar-fest may have only been second best, but it was also a distinct possibility – one I’d intended to make happen at the first opportunity.

That opportunity was Findon, the next village en route. And when the Black Horse came into sight, part of me wondered if it could even be a mirage. It wasn’t.

There is something about the mountain biking in southern England that you just don’t get anywhere else – well, not in the mountainous areas I usually ride anyway.

Huge, lumbering chalkland downs are certainly a big part of it. But there’s more: good and bad. Big skies, hedgerows, flowering verges, singing birds, hay bales, stinging nettles, brambles and, of course, temperatures that seem to quite effortlessly nudge into the 30s on the hottest days of the year.

Did I mention the heat? I might refer to it again yet…

But here’s the rub, summer is definitely the best time to explore these bridleway-riddled hillsides. The chalky clay [or clayey chalk? – Ed] that provides the surface for most of these bridleways, that was kicking up dust and burning holes in our retinas, is a notorious nightmare when wet. Just add water and it becomes as slippery as eel skin and sticky enough to clog up tyres or even whole wheels at times.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: Wear Sunscreen Chipps lifts the veil on the uneconomic world of newsagent magazine sales. UK Adventure: Going Over To The Dark Side Shorter winter days mean you can do a dawn raid without having to get up too early. Classic Ride: The South Downs Blue skies, chalky trails and endless riding make for a perfect combination. Tom Hutton takes on the trails around Cissbury Ring. Column: Jason Miles It’s not all about chafing and suffering in Jason’s endurance racing world. Sometimes it’s about haunted helmets… International Adventure: Letting Go And Finding Flow Some journeys aren’t about the miles ridden. Amanda explores the trails of Denmark, while unwinding some of the twisty singletrack in her head. UK Adventure: My Grandad’s Head In A Jar Adam Batty gets rad with his dad and his dad’s dad. And all thanks to some electric bicycle help. Keeping Track Of Time At The Trans-Provence 2019 saw the final Trans Provence. Tom Hill looks back on what made the event so special, from the unique view of those riders not racing, but working the course every day. Column: Still Going After a mere 20 years, Chipps reckons his SPD pedals are just about needing a service. UK Adventure: Making It Up In The Lake District Drawing a line on a map and following it over the roof of the Lake District is certainly one way to see the Lakes. Follow Chipps and Nigel Page to see if it’s actually a good one. Bike Test: British Steel Not just designed in the UK, but cut, mitred and welded here too. Three aggressive hardtails on test from 18 Bikes, Shand and Stanton are put to the test. International Adventure: Verbier By Train Can we really appreciate the places we ride if we’re helping to destroy them by getting there? Mark took a low carbon approach.