The Summer Solstice: Bivvying Along The South Downs Way

The summer solstice seemed the perfect opportunity for a venture into the world of bivvy biking for the first time, a complete unknown to both me and PK (pictured right), something totally different. Andy (pictured left) is an experienced man in adventures like this one and so we trusted him with just about everything from the route, equipment advice, pub choice, our camping spot and even the morning coffee so a huge thanks to him. I can fully understand why bikepacking is gaining popularity after this micro adventure, it's challenging, great fun and also pretty unrefined which adds to the experience. We set off from Eastbourne along the South Downs Way, a trail that runs all the way to Winchester in Hampshire for 160km. Our route took us well short of the full distance for 'just' a days ride to Brighton.

Lunchtime park-up for our three very different machines. PK's Pinnacle fatbike, Andy's Sonder 650b commuter/bivvy bike and my Giant TCX with 700c 37c's, all perfectly suitable in parts and less so in others.

Rolling terrain for mile after mile with tracks that vary from full rocky decent's smooth grassland. We had a few tire issues early on which notched into our riding time. "How're we doing for time?" I said "It doesn't really matter" Andy reminded me, for a ride like this is not about average speed or even distance but just being immersed in the experience at each moment.

Recovery beers...

Then bikes and biryanis for supper

We headed out of Brighton, along the coast and through the docks.

Bike lights on, the sun going down and a feeling of total freedom, my favourite part of the whole day. Back up onto the Downs to our bivvy spot for the night.

Our camp for the night was on the sloping banks of Chanctonbury Ring, a prehistoric hill fort from the late Bronze or early Iron Age.

I have a feeling this might be the first of many.

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