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The South Downs

The South Downs stretch over 100miles along Britain's South Coast.  Now, enough of the geography lesson - lets get out and ride!  The best places I know of are Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Portsmouth, Whiteways, near Arundel and Friston Forest, near Eastbourne. 

  • Queen Elizabeth Country Park

There is a marked out route here with a nice DH at the end.  Lots of Downhillers hang out here - walking to the top for a vert blast - I can't understand it when there's no lift!  Anyway, you can go out the back of the park and up onto the South Downs Way (- still have to ride all of this in one day).  Typical downland tracks - nice in the summer, don't even think about it in winter!

  • Whiteways

Whiteways is a really a car park situated just north of Arundel and close to Amberley (probably the closest train station).  Whiteways is singletrack heaven amongst the generally wide tracks of the south downs.  In the woods right near the car park are many miles of singletrack, and you can branch out toward Goodwood or Arundel and get loads of nice forest tracks. 

It also has marked bike tracks, but they are tame in comparison to QE.   However, they do have races here occasionally and these use some of the singletrack that is scattered about the forest - some of this is real good.  Watch out for the quarries here as they are steep with little traction, one of my mates wiped bad droping into one.  Again if you fancy a longer ride you can ride out over to the radio masts and beyond to Goodwood, or you can drop down to the east, down a lovely downhill to the caff on the River Arun at the bottom.  I like Whiteways, it's got everything, singletrack, fast downhills, technical downhills and long hard climbs(!).

Click here for routes from Whiteways

  • Friston Forest

Friston has marked bike tracks as well, and you can hire from here to.   Unfortunately it gets real busy here in summer, and don't go in winter as that chalk is deadly slippy!  However, the singletrack on the technical bike route is really good, narrow and off camber, and has a few bombhole sections where the track loops up and around the walls of the hole - a real challenge!  This is the far end of the SDW and you can ride out onto it and along, if you want a longer ride.

There is a bike shop at the Visitor's Centre area if you need any bits (although it mainly caters for the bike hire brigade).  There is also a tea room that looks really quaint, the only problem is that in the summer it's   hard to get an outside table as it can be very busy.

However, we don't go to Friston to drink tea, we go to ride.  I recommend the bike track - after climbing up through the woods and over a couple of low walls, you drop into a lovely bit of singletrack, perched on the hillside where the only thing stoping the track from disappearing down the hillside is the staked logs at the side of the track.  You'll climb and drop, with some nice drop ins and eventually come to some 'skills' areas - a couple of big holes where the track winds it's way up and down the walls and twists around in the middle.  Trails level skills aren't required, but it makes for an interesting diversion!

The only problem I have with Friston is that it's a long way from where I live, otherwise I'd go there a lot!

There are plenty of other places to ride on the South Downs and one good place is Cocking, near Midhurst.  Check out this ride:

Click here for a ride from Cocking

.NH, 1990-8

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The longest straightest bridleway in the whole world (goes as far as just below the horizon!)

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In the woods around Whiteways

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Singletrack, Whiteways

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In Friston Forest

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