A dark and dirty date up the Downs

It was dark. It was dirty. It was brilliant. 

It’s not the first time it’s happened – I did it last week as well, and I’m not even sorry. 

My name’s Tess, and I’m an early morning endorphin fiend. 


Whether it’s an pre-work run, cycle ride, yoga class or gym session, working out in the morning sets me right up for the day, and today was no exception.

The alarm was set for 5am. Kit laid out, lunch prepared and work clothes at the ready. Me and my wheels had a date up the Downs and it was gonna get dirty.

This week’s route started in Stanmer Park, taking in the woodland trails before dawn to test out our lights and see what it’s like to ride in the dark. There is method in this (what some might call) madness. 

BTRS South Downs Relay

Next Saturday 22nd November I’ll be joining my team of four to ride the 100 miles of the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne on a mountain bike. The relay is just one of the many events as part of the Brighton Triathlon Race Series (more on this awesome group later) and to be honest I signed me and Chris up before realising how hard it might actually be.

That doesn’t mean I’m not bouncing off the walls with excitement to get out there and get it done though, obviously. This is my I’m-gonna-bloody-do-this face:

We’ll be setting off from Winchester at 8am sharp, our teams of four split into pairs to each take turns riding 15-18mile sections of the course before passing the baton to the other pair. When we’re not out on the trail we’ll be in the van driving to the next checkpoint to meet our team mates and take over the next leg.

It’s expected to take between nine and 12 hours to cross the finish line in Eastbourne, and I bloody hope we make it there before the pubs close! I’m hoping for the best pint of beer to ever have passed my lips…

Endorphins ahoy

So me and my team mates have been setting our alarms to get some practice in before the big day, riding some of the course and testing out kit and lights etc. to make sure we’re ready.

Last week we did just over 12.5 miles and rode some pretty tough hills amidst probably the most breathtaking sunrise I’ve ever seen in Brighton.

It was a beautiful, cold and crisp morning, with a gorgeous mist settling on the valleys below us and I spent the whole ride beaming from ear to ear, proclaiming my love for the world to John and Cat, as well as to every single cow that we passed.

What have you done today, to make you feeeeel proud? #miranda #mountainbiking #southdowns #brighton #cycling #ride #hills

A video posted by @fitbits_tess on

It was just. Brilliant.

I’m not gonna lie, it was bloody hard work, much harder than I thought it’d be, and I’m glad we’ve got out to get a bit of practice in so we know what we’re letting ourselves in for.

But that sunrise though…

Dark and dirty

Today’s 14 mile ride was just as awesome for different reasons. We got up and out an hour earlier to do some in the dark. Starting off in the pitch black, we rode through Stanmer Park’s winding woodland trails as it (actually very quickly) got light and turned into a mild but moody day.

It was muddy, and slippery, and great fun, with lots of forest tracks and cattle-filled fields to navigate. I rode through every single puddle with glee (although did regret having wet shoes afterwards – damn adult brain!) We didn’t get a sunrise this time, but instead were treated to a sky of moody clouds and a gentle breeze. It was so peaceful up on the hills – with nothing but our breath and occasional moos from the cows we passed.

I honestly don’t think there’s a better place to live in the UK than Brighton – an eclectic and vibrant city nestled between a gorgeous seafront lined with chalk white cliffs, and a never-ending landscape of beautiful, rolling countryside.

Honestly, what more could you want?!

I’m really looking forward to this relay, even though I know it’s gonna be a bloody long day. I’m excited about the challenge; I’m excited about the great group vibe we’ll no doubt have along the way; I’m excited (or maybe not?!) to find out who gets to tackle the last leg into Eastbourne over the Seven Sisters ending with the beast that is Beachy Head.

I’m excited about the peanut butter sandwiches and hot tea I’m gonna pack and bring with me. I’m excited about the endorphins, but I haven’t quite figured out how I’m gonna make my Garmin last the whole time so tech sweats are imminent when it runs out (any tips, lemme know!)

It’s gonna be EPIC!!!

Are you a sucker for a challenge? Which type of cycling do you prefer, road or mountain biking? Mud or no mud?

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