CYCLIST'S GUIDE TO THE SOUTH DOWNS WAY
I thought that it may be useful to note some of the more frequent questions that I recive.
1.Type of bike ?
This is the most frequent question that I receive. Whilst in theory any bike is usable, I advise a mountain bike with front suspension. The first BHF ride of 65 miles from Winchester I rode on a rigid mountain bike, ie no suspension and my upper arms shoulders ached for about 3 days; the last hour or so was endurance not enjoyment. Whilst there are some tarmac stretches and grassy and firm gravel, there is also a lot of very rough hard pebbly stone, chalk flints !Hybrid bike may not have low enough gears for the climbs.
Wide tyres also help to soak up surface, and better on ruts, loose stones.
This link also has some tips on type of bike.
2. West to east? (Winchester to Eastbourne / WtoE) Which has better descents?
Prevailing wind is from west so unless strong, advise WtoE.
Good descents: Butser (Possibly best on SDW); Cocking Down to A286; A29 to Amberley; Steyning Bowl to A283; Pyecombe;Balmer Down (just north of A27) not steep but longish on good grass field; Iford Hill. Obviously most of these have a descent nearbycoming the other way, but they do not seem as good.
3. Where are walker (footpath) and cyclists (bridlepath) different?
Again refer to link http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/Southdowns/faq.asp?PageId=75 three mainly on outskirts of Winchester, Exton and Alfriston.
4. Do I need a map?
The route is fingerposted the whole way, so it is possible. I like maps as I like to know where I am !
!:25000 orange OS Explorer 132, 120, 121, 122,123.
5. Alfrison to Eastbourne
The coastal route is a footpath so walkers only, that is no bikes/cycling ! The SDW bridleway is via Jevington.
6. Public transport trains and bus