Preparing for 160k / 3,500m off road ride

Hi All,

New to The Sufferfest this week. . .

I’m hoping to ride the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne UK in one long day sometime in May or early June. The ride is about 160km on a flinty bridleway with a lot of up and down totalling about 3,500 meters of climbing. It’s a huge challenge for me having struggled in the past to complete it in two days with an overnight stop in a hedge. By doing it in a day I’ll be able to carry minimal gear and up the pace a bit. That’s the plan at least.

I was thinking the 100 mile ‘Gravel Grinder’ could be perfect but concerned that it may not prepare me for the 3,500m of climbing over the rolling, off road course. Alternatively, there’s the ‘Mountainous/Hilly Gran Fondo’ but the description there indicates only 1,500m climbing.

I’d really like to boost my ability to handle long, not-too-steep, but off road, climbs. Climbing is probably one of my weaker areas. Any recommendations most welcome.



From your goal, I’m betting that the 100 mile GG is likely perfect. You can supplement, ie add on Power Station or GOAT or some other climbing focused vids on days when you have time and only one ride scheduled. I’ve had similar advice.


The 100-mile Gravel Grinder training program is perfect for your needs.

I’ve done several endurance gravel events (The DAMn, Ten Thousand, Land Run, Barry Roubaix, etc.) and the key is really finding your pace.

After you get over the training challenge, work on your fueling strategy and figure out how many matches you can burn before you burn out. For me, I set alarms to drink every 30 minutes and eat every hour, especially when I’m not hungry early on. Also early in the ride, people will be riding way faster than your pace. You get race brain and try to keep up. That’s fine for a bit, but know when to back off and find a ride group.

Good luck and if you can do a metric indoors, you’ll be fine outdoors for 100 miles!

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Thanks Glen & Johnnie for your advice. GG100 it is then. I’ll start in the second week of Feb after completing the Transition Down, Full Frontal test and requisite recovery from that.

In the meantime, I’ll consider the question of equipping my bike with a power meter of some sort or just going with heart rate / perceived exertion for the outdoor rides. I’ll need something to keep me honest as I really do like to enjoy the scenery when I’m out in the countryside. :slight_smile:


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Loads of options for power meters now and you don’t need to spend a million dollars to do it either.
If you aren’t already familiar, DC Rainmaker used to do an annual roundup (last one was 2018) but he is also regularly reviewing the new ones. Great info out there. And good luck!


I did the SDW in a day a couple of years ago after getting back into cycling… it was one of those 4 drunk guys in a pub pre-Christmas, finished with 2 of us doing it in 13hrs… It was my first year of using Sufferfest and I’m a couple of years down the road and worked out what to focus on more and used the training programs a lot more with specific efforts. I’d look at your 4DP results and look at focusing on FTP and V02 max (5min efforts). As it’s a long day (think about endurance) and most of the climbs really are grinds and push your shorter efforts… elevation gains really aren’t more than 200m each time…

As for feeding, eat lots regularly, every 20-30 mins… I used top tube bag to store food for a couple of hours, but carried food for 8-10 hrs of feeding, think I carried between 5-7k calories of food. One point we slightly overlooked was how many water stops there are on the way… so I’d have carried less water…

We did the ride fully unsupported, didn’t pick up any other food, started at 5am and got to Eastbourne at 6pm, then got on a train back… (no one sat next to us…)… I did the ride on a Santa Cruz Tallboy…

I’ve continued to follow Sufferfest training over the last few years and will continue… in September last year we did a road ride taking on Wales North to South in a Day, 297km… in 13 hrs…

Happy to answer any specific questions… or views…


Great post and replies!

I am 17 weeks from a 100 M / 3500 FT race the first week of May. When is your ride?

I am finishing up the all purpose plan, will start the volcano plan in late January, and finish with the 100 GG. The strength, yoga and mental prep are great additions. I do get anxious during recovery days and weeks - maybe I should be doing something.

This past summer my longest ride was 40 miles and I am excited to see what my prep will bring. I am paying a special attention nutrition. I am making a plan and will incorporate it into my longer rides in the plan.

The comments about FTP and MAP are helpful, since race pace will be unfamiliar. Revolver reminds me of some of the ups and downs here in Kansas.

This community is so generous, thank you.

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