South Downs near Ditchling Beacon - by Rory Hitchens

Current Record Holder: Josh Ibbett - 17h 47m 30s

The South Downs Double

For thousands of years, people have been crossing the South Downs using nothing but the power of their own two legs. And in all that time, every traveller has been looking for the easiest route: what's the quickest way over the next hill - around it, over it, or across its flanks? Eventually, out of all those small, individual decisions a trail emerged, worn into the chalk over countless journeys.

The end result of all those collective decisions and knowledge is the South Downs Way.

Of course, of all those people over all those years, someone's got to have made the quickest journey, there-and-back. Nowadays, that's going to be someone riding a bike.

200 miles (there and back). 24 hours to do it in. It's that simple.

The history page covers the background to the Double and explains how it came to be. A special mention must always go to Ian Butler, who is widely acknowledged as the first person to do the full 200 miles in under 24 hours - thanks for showing the way, Ian!

Site index

27th June 2014 - Ben Sherratt attempting 365 miles in 24 hours

Ben Sherratt, who is one of the few riders to have completed the Double on a singlespeed, has just started on an epic 365 mile WORLD RECORD challenge for charity. He's aiming for the 48-hour mountain biking record, and is doing it as promote kid's cycling while raising money to help the Association for Blind and Partially Sighted People.

Please visit his fundraising page, and if you're near Brighton over the next couple of days why not go down to Stanmer Park to cheer him on? You could even ride a couple of laps with him - he'll appreciate the support, especially in the middle of the night!

Update: Story now up on road.cc.

23rd September 2011 - Josh Ibbett sets new record

We've just heard from Rory (of Upgrade bikes) that Josh Ibbett has set a new record for the Double; from reports the last 50 miles or so didn't come easy. Lydia Gould and John from USE were on hand at the finish line, so more news soon.

19th August 2011 - Kevin Izzard

After years of dreaming and planning, Kevin was all ready to go for it in 2010 - until he was hit by a car. The injuries he received forced him to postpone for a year, but come June 2011 he was ready and set off to realise the dream. Pouring rain, headwinds and consequent hypothermia proved too much on this occasion, but Kevin clearly doesn't give up easily.

Finally, it all came together on the 19th August, and Kevin succeeded in joining the club with a time of 23:19:39. The ride was not without challenges of its own, and you can read his full account here on BikeMagic.

30th July 2011 - Ben Amesbury

Despite laying long-term plans for the ride, Ben was unlucky enough to have no fewer than 7 punctures in the first 70 miles. Many riders would have abandoned at that point, but Ben kept going and finally completed the ride in 25 hours 55 minutes. A fantastic effort - and no doubt Ben will keep on thinking about the magic 24 hours!

15th July 2011 - Paul Gibbons

Paul Gibbons of Lewes Wanderers CC originally planned to ride with a partner, but ended up going it alone. Starting off after midnight in a gale and suffering 3 punctures, Paul reportedly found time for a "rather tasty ice cold coffee frappe" when making the turn at Winchester to ease the suffering on the return leg.

You can read Paul's full story in the September 2011 issue of the club magazine, available here.

12th May 2011 - Darren Slade

Completing the first Double of 2011, Darren Slade battled rain and a strong headwind to complete the ride in 23:38:21. According to this report from Tim Fiskar, opening gates became almost impossible as he had no strength left in his arms towards the end!

23rd October 2010 - Alan Velecky joins the club, Alpine style

A keen runner and well-known orienteer, Alan decided to test his legs against the SDD. With more than a year of planning behind his ride, Alan overcame a damaged tubeless tyre and cold night fog to complete the ride in 23 hours 31 minutes and 53 seconds. Apparently he timed it perfectly, with his lights going flat a minute after completing the ride.

Alan's exploits were reported in the 9th October issue of the Sussex Express, and you can read the full story of his ride here.

14th July 2010 - Rob Dean smashes the singlespeed record!

Rob Dean decided to have another go at the Double, but this time he fancied making it harder by using a singlespeed! And guess what? Not only did he smash the old singlespeed record, he actually went almost an hour and half quicker than he did on his previous geared outing - well done Rob!

You can read his account of the ride here on BikeMagic. Riding through a day of 30C heat and a night illuminated by Exposure Lights, Rob arrived back in Winchester in a blisteringly quick 18 hours 41 minutes and 59 seconds, which is also the 2nd quickest time overall to boot.

28th June 2010 - the Double Double!

Amazingly, we've just learnt of 2 riders each doing the South Downs Double, picking the same day and time window to do it in! Unaware of each others progress, it'll be great to know if they spotted each other on the trail - we'll try and find out and post that in the follow-ups.

It's not yet clear who started first, but Antony Gray started from Eastbourne on the 25th June and set out for Winchester. On the same day, Ben Sherrat set off from the slightly-unconventional start-point of Devils Dyke heading for Winchester, then turning back for Eastbourne and finally turning once again for the run back to Devils dyke.

As they rode through from the 25th into the 26th - which was quite possibly the hottest day of the year so far - we know Rory Hitchens captured a few pictures of Ben, and Antony has sent us pics from his ride. We'll get more details online over the next few days, but in the meantime congratulations to both of these riders, especially as they follow Richard Sterry in showing their commitment to charity; Ben is a Bike-It officer for Sustrans and completed his ride for Bike Week, while Antony is part of Team Milo2 (he also supports the BHF and the Tadworth Childrens Trust).

As for the bikes, we hear that Ben opted for a rigid Surly singlespeed while Antony was on a Yeti ASR-C Carbon - about as different a choice as you can get! Full update on both these amazing rides soon, in the meantime you can see Antony's tracklogs here and here, and read Ben's account on his blog entry.

18th August 2009

On 2nd August 2009, in the early morning hours, Alan Goldsmith set out to attempt the Double. No stranger to the South Downs Way (and indeed to epic rides, being a successful competitor in the 2009 Tour Divide), he completed the ride in 22h 41m 45s despite some early mud that added to the challenge. Carrying a GPS logger to verify his ride, we'll report more details as we receive them.

30th June 2009

After a valiant attempt at the first ever "Winter" South Downs Double earlier in the year, Rob Dean returned to the trail in rather hotter weather. This time he stormed the ride coming in just under the magic 20 hours, at 19h 59m 13s. Riding a Gary Fisher Superfly and battling 31C heat, a snapped chain and a high speed tumble with another rider, his report of the ride on BikeMagic is highly recommended reading.

26th June 2009

At 6pm today, Richard Sterry set off to attempt to complete the South Downs double for charity, in aid of the BHF. We've also heard that two other riders also set off to complete the ride a couple of hours earlier, aiming to ride from Eastbourne to Winchester, register for the BHF Randonee, and then ride back to Eastbourne! More coverage over at Bikemagic, as always.

News 28th May 2009 - Steve Heading (re)joins the SDD Club

Steve Heading - who previously rode a shorter version of the Double route back in the early 1990's - returned to set a personal best of 20 hours 36 minutes and 11 second on 26th May 2009. Starting from Winchester at midnight and riding through heavy rain overnight and into the morning, his time is still the 3rd fastest to date and an astonishing acheivement given the conditions. More info about his ride in this BikeMagic story.

News 22nd May 2009 - Ian Leitch sets new outright South Downs Double record (updated)

Ian Leitch, a well-known endurance rider for Independent Fabrications and Exposure Lights has set a new outright record time for the South Downs Double. He set out from Winchester at 3:03am and finished in 18h 3m 12s. More info on this story as we receive it, in the meantime we have these pictures and info courtesy of Rory Hitchens as well as this story and these messages on Bikemagic.

Ian is also well-known as the course designer for the 2008 G2 Revolver event and the upcoming 2009 Brighton Big Dog.

News 28th February 2009 - Rob Dean attempts first Winter Double

Rob Dean has made a valiant attempt at the first ever Winter Double. Despite the challenging conditions, he completed the ride one-way in impressive time, but sadly had to bail out on the return leg. The full details are available here on Bikemagic and in the associated forum thread.

News 27th September 2008 - Mike Cotty sets new outright record

On 26th September 2008, Mike Cotty - a previous record holder on the South Downs Double - recaptured his crown with a time of 19h 52m 26s, the first sub-20 hour time and riding Alpine-style to boot! There is an initial report of his ride online at Bikemagic.

News 23rd August 2008 - Lydia Gould becomes fastest female rider

Lydia Gould has just completed her attempt to become the fastest female rider on the South Downs Double, and succeed in doing so despite challenging conditions. Starting on Thursday at 9:00pm her ride spanned a total of 3 days, ending just after midnight on Saturday for a final time of 27h 26m 54s.

News 21st August 2008 - George Budd/Sharon Laws ride report

Back in 2006, Sharon Laws (Team GB) and George Budd (Salsa Factory Racing) rode the South Downs Way both ways, supported by Thetford MTB, in around 30 hours. George has sent in a report and photos of their ride - one of the pictures shows an unusual choice of bikes!

News 26th July 2008 - Neil Newell achieves first Singlespeed Double

On 22nd July 2008 Neil Newell set out to attempt the South Downs Double on a rigid singlespeed, and completed the ride in 23 hours 20 minutes 32 seconds. More on Bikemagic here and here.

News 28th May 2008

We've collected a bunch of interesting and informative links about the South Downs Way on this page - if you have any others you think should be featured, please let us know via the feedback page - thanks.

News 21st May 08 - Read about Rob's ride, in his own words

Read Rob's amazing tale of his record-breaking Double, in his own words here on BikeMagic (the same story is also here on the IronHorse-Extreme website).

News 8th May 08 - Rob Lee smashes record, and how!

Rob Lee, leader of the elite IronHorse Extreme endurance team, has broken the record - and entirely unsupported to boot! He carried absolutely everything he needed bar water (which he got from public taps along the way), and carried every last food wrapper and bit of rubbish back with him. You can read more about his ride on this page - during his ride it reported his current position along with the latest pictures in real time, and has several links where you can find out more about his extraordinary ride. His final time was 20h 55m 51s, and there has been a good deal of media coverage as a result - see the links here for a selection.


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