The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

South Downs Adventure Race

 

Course Conditions

Information about the course area and its condition for the adventure race on Sat 5 September 2015

 

Special Notes

Those who took part in the last adventure race will know some of the public rights of way in Wiltshire were very overgrown in places. The good news is that this is not the case for this adventure race - the bridleways and footpaths are generally clear. But it is that time of year when brambles are at their full extent, so do keep an eye out for stray brambles protruding from the hedgerows and it's also worth checking your tyres are in a good condition.

We recommend you wear or carry with you some sort of leg cover / protection (e.g. a lightweight pair of waterproof trousers that you can easily slip on and off) just in case you come across some nettles that are in your way. Again we didn't have any problems with nettles when we went round the course last month but you may take a different route to us so better to be safe than sorry.

Approximately half the area is wooded and the other half is open fields so the wooded areas will offer some shade from the sun should it pop out.

There are livestock in one or two fields on the Downs so please make sure you shut and properly fasten all gates behind you. For your safety, please try not to disturb the livestock. Proceed with caution around livestock where present. Do not run. Do not get in between the cows and their calves.

Most of the routes are well signed so look out for these signs to help you.

 

Trail Run

The majority of the trail run takes place off road on public footpaths and bridleways although there are one or two short sections where you will need to run along roads / on the pavement in order to link checkpoints together.

The nature of the trails varies widely from gravel tracks and grassy tracks to compacted bare earth and uneven fields (which will have been harvested now and may even have been ploughed)

The trail run will take you up onto the South Downs where the chalk substratum means the ground is relatively well drained and remains quite firm even after heavy rain. So you shouldn't encounter much mud, if any, but that's not to say the trails won't be wet and slippery as after rain the water pools in places and makes any exposed marl incredibly greasy. Trail shoes with a decent tread are therefore recommended. 

 

Mountain Biking

The mountain biking takes place both up on the Downs and in the southern part of the Weald basin on the north side of the Downs.

The northern side of the Downs is characterised by a steep escarpment where the routes cut diagonally up and down across the scarp face so as to be not quite so steep. In stark contrast the southern side of the downs (the lee slope), where the wooded trails provide some great mountain biking, is inclined at a lower angle.

The tops of the Downs themselves are characterised by rolling or undulating hills over which the South Downs Way passes. The South Downs Way is a major long distance trail and for the most part provides a good wide all weather surface on which to ride. In some places it's grassy, but the grass is short and it's easy going. In other places it's not so good where it crosses fields and where the surface of the track has been eroded. Take care on the eroded sections as not only is the exposed chalk greasy and slippery but they are often off camber and peppered with loose rocks. The chalk also contains razor sharp flint nodules so safest to get off and walk over any difficult sections rather than risk falling off and cutting yourself.

The Weald can be muddy in places but on the whole it is characterised by sandy soils which are naturally good at draining. If it's dry, watch out for soft deep sand in a couple of places where you might find it easiest to jump off your bike and push it a short way until you reach firmer ground.

The course includes some busy roads and narrow lanes. Take care. Always expect to find oncoming traffic around the next corner. Moderate your speed on steep descents. Keep within your technical riding capabilities. It's much safer to dismount if you are uncertain.

 

Kayaking

The kayaking takes place on a tidal stretch of river. Access is via a steeply inclined river bank covered in block paving which despite appearances is very slippery when wet. It is best to walk to the edge of the block paving, where the ground is flat, before getting onto your kayak. This 'shelf' remains submerged even at low tide, so expect to get your feet wet.

The river is typically over ten metres wide but in one or two places it narrows considerably to just a few metres in width. The water flows faster through these narrow sections so it can require quite a bit of effort to paddle through these 'bottlenecks' against the flow, but they are short lived and once the river widens the paddling returns to normal.

Most of the river is free of vegetation but reeds do grow on the riverbed in one or two places. At high tide these are suspended in the water column and so shouldn't cause you any problems as they are underwater. At low tide the tops of the reeds float on the surface which can make paddling through them hard work but you can often avoid the worst of them by picking a clear line through them.

In one place a large fallen tree lies across the river almost totally blocking it, but it is possible to paddle under the trunk of the tree even at high tide. So once you are on the water, there is no need to get off until you have finished kayaking - all the kayak checkpoints can be reached from your kayak.

Keep an eye out for herons, cormorants, fish and other wildlife.

 

Photos

View all the photos taken on recent recce's showing different parts of the course here

 

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