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Southern Discomfort 300 (Almost)

Testing the limits of the Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

26 June 2020

On a hot day in the end of June, we were sitting in the office, discussing what each others' plans for the weekend were. It was then, when Matt challenged Stan to ride the Southern Discomfort 300 on the E-Adventure 1.0 and test how far he can go on 3 batteries. Stan foolishly accepted the challenge without looking at the route's finer details.

It was the perfect test for FAZUA's new software update and the capabilities of the Cairn to tackle tricky terrain that most would consider well into MTB category. The following is Stan's take on the day.

Pictures by @breakawaydigital

Bike: Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

Wheels: MASON x HUNT 650B Aventure Sport Disc

Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Bite (650B x 2.1")

Frame Bag: Roswheel Off-Road Collection

Handlebar Bag: Altura Vortex Waterproof

Saddle Bag: Lezyne

Battery Case: Cairn Range Extension Pack

Lights: Exposure Diablo Rear & Sirius Front

Water Bottles: Fidlock

Rider: Me, cyclocross fanatic, used to riding up to an hour in the red.

Bike: Cairn E-Adventure 1.0

Wheels: MASON x HUNT 650B Aventure Sport Disc

Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Bite (650B x 2.1")

Frame Bag: Roswheel Off-Road Collection

Handlebar Bag: Altura Vortex Waterproof

Saddle Bag: Lezyne

Battery Case: Cairn Range Extension Pack

Lights: Exposure Diablo Rear & Sirius Front

Water Bottles: Fidlock

Rider: Me, cyclocross fanatic, used to riding up to an hour in the red.

The Route

Created after a whole summer of exploring, the Southern Discomfort 300 was meant to prove to Northerners that the south of England is just as hilly. With over 5200 metres of elevation, most of it being climbed at more than 10%, it's a real challenge for even the fittest of us.

Most of the climbs are steep singletrack full of roots, loose stones and all kinds of other things that make it harder for you. The descents are the same, they are far from a moment to relax but mostly bumpy and a few of them definitely need some MTB skills.

Click on the image to see the full details taken from Komoot.

The Route

Created after a whole summer of exploring, the Southern Discomfort 300 was meant to prove to Northerners that the south of England is just as hilly. With over 5200 metres of elevation, most of it being climbed at more than 10%, it's a real challenge for even the fittest of us.

Most of the climbs are steep singletrack full of roots, loose stones and all kinds of other things that make it harder for you. The descents are the same, they are far from a moment to relax but mostly bumpy and a few of them definitely need some MTB skills.

Click on the image to see the full details taken from Komoot.

Originally created by Jim Barrow. See the route page on his website here

It's specifically designed to break people from up north who think the south is flat.

— Jim Barrow ( @jimbosussexmtb )

The Start

I set of at 5 am thinking that the Cairn on eco mode should get me to the finish in about 15-18 hours. Thankfully the days are still long so didn't want to lose out on sleep.

My aim was to ride at Breeze mode for the entire ride and see how far this will get me.

 

So Far So Good

The start is very nice and the first 40 km were one of the best hours spent on a bike in my entire life. Riding over and around the South Downs at sunrise was certainly something I'll remember for a long time and definitely try to do more of.

What's more, I only drained about 40% of my first battery so range wise, the day was looking good too!

The Puncture

At about kilometre 44, riding down a grassy path, my front tyre suddenly lost all pressure and the sealant inside it was all gone. I must have hit a flint or something just as sharp because I had a fairly huge slash which unfortunately I couldn't fix with what I've taken as spares. I couldn't even get an inner tube to pump up and hold air inside it.

I knew one of my colleagues, Rich, lived nearby so I gave him a call hoping he will save my trip. Being the nice guy he is, he quickly got in the car and brought me the only 650b tyre he had - a Schwalbe G-One Allround in 1.5".

While this definitely helped me continue my ride, it also made it that bit more uncomfortable as I had to keep the pressure in the tyre a bit higher and also my position on the bike changed with the lower front end - it almost felt as aggressive as my cx bike!

The Puncture

At about kilometre 44, riding down a grassy path, my front tyre suddenly lost all pressure and the sealant inside it was all gone. I must have hit a flint or something just as sharp because I had a fairly huge slash which unfortunately I couldn't fix with what I've taken as spares. I couldn't even get an inner tube to pump up and hold air inside it.

I knew one of my colleagues, Rich, lived nearby so I gave him a call hoping he will save my trip. Being the nice guy he is, he quickly got in the car and brought me the only 650b tyre he had - a Schwalbe G-One Allround in 1.5".

While this definitely helped me continue my ride, it also made it that bit more uncomfortable as I had to keep the pressure in the tyre a bit higher and also my position on the bike changed with the lower front end - it almost felt as aggressive as my cx bike!

Unfortunately nothing could fix that one...

Me, arriving at the car park where Rich was waiting with a spare tyre and some extra sealant.

Refuelling after a 50 minute walk with a flat tyre.

Me, arriving at the car park where Rich was waiting with a spare tyre and some extra sealant.

Refuelling after a 50 minute walk with a flat tyre.

Time To Refuel

After fixing my front tyre, I rode for another 30 km until I reached Lewes where I had my first longer stop for some ice cream and to top up my supplies.

Climbing up on the South Downs near Devil's Dyke

Climbing up on the South Downs near Devil's Dyke

Second Food Stop

After changing to my second battery at the 75 km mark, I had a spell of really hard climbs and tricky bumpy descents which really took their toll on me. I finally arrived at the second food stop at Storrington (124km).

Because of the changed position on the bike after the tyre swap, my back and shoulders were hurting so I had to put my stem one spacer higher. I ate a couple of sandwiches, drank a bottle of Lucozade, stretched my legs and jumped on the bike again.

A spell of flat roads and a sandy forest section made the next few hours a bit easier which I was super grateful for!

With only 10% left of my second battery, this hill really made me suffer.

With only 10% left of my second battery, this hill really made me suffer.

Half Way

I was finally half way. 12 hours and 150 km of up and up and up and down and a bit more up.

I've drained 2 batteries and consumed probably about 3000 kcal on my way. Jim warned me about this hill and told me to make sure I've got enough juice to power up it as it's more than 20% in the steepest sections and me carrying so much food and 2 extra batteries definitely didn't make it easier.

I was happy to see Dan with the camera near the top of it so I stopped for a deserved rest, stretch and a few more calories.

Deep in the red

Finally at the top, totally exhausted.

Stretching my back and taking a deep breath.

Half Way

I was finally half way. 12 hours and 150 km of up and up and up and down and a bit more up.

I've drained 2 batteries and consumed probably about 3000 kcal on my way. Jim warned me about this hill and told me to make sure I've got enough juice to power up it as it's more than 20% in the steepest sections and me carrying so much food and 2 extra batteries definitely didn't make it easier.

I was happy to see Dan with the camera near the top of it so I stopped for a deserved rest, stretch and a few more calories.

 

Finally at the top, totally exhausted.

Stretching my back and taking a deep breath.

Last Battery In. Time For A Final Push

After a short break, it was time to put the last battery in and continue my journey.

I was really impressed with the performance of the new FAZUA update and had only cycled around 5 km with the motor turned off. Due to the natural feel and lack of resistance when the motor is off, I could easily pedal on the flats and go down descents without having to drain the battery which was crucial and made it possible to still have a full battery after 13 hours in the saddle.

That's all folks. 200 km, 16 hours (12 riding), 3810 m elevation, 3 batteries

As the day progressed, I knew that I still had a lot of the route to go and the sun was about to set in only a couple of hours so I made the call to stop my adventure at the 200 km mark. I did drain all three of my batteries, but I did use the River and Rocket modes on my last one as I knew that I'll be stopping.

When I met Dan at the top of yet another hill, I had a feeling I hadn't had before. My legs weren't as tired as I expected actually, my back and shoulders were the ones aching the most and that's just because the route was specifically made to be as brutal as possible and ideally done on a hardtail or a full-sus mountain bike.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this adventure and I can wholeheartedly recommend Jim's route to anyone who would like to go bikepacking in the south of England.

Links to the full ride:

Komoot - https://www.komoot.com/tour/209123640

Strava - https://www.strava.com/activities/3675330421

I'd like to express special thanks to Dan King (@breakawaydigital) who not only took great shots throughout the day, but also brought me food and spares when I needed them!

That's all folks. 200 km, 16 hours (12 riding), 3810 m elevation, 3 batteries

As the day progressed, I knew that I still had a lot of the route to go and the sun was about to set in only a couple of hours so I made the call to stop my adventure at the 200 km mark. I did drain all three of my batteries, but I did use the River and Rocket modes on my last one as I knew that I'll be stopping.

When I met Dan at the top of yet another hill, I had a feeling I hadn't had before. My legs weren't as tired as I expected actually, my back and shoulders were the ones aching the most and that's just because the route was specifically made to be as brutal as possible and ideally done on a hardtail or a full-sus mountain bike.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this adventure and I can wholeheartedly recommend Jim's route to anyone who would like to go bikepacking in the south of England.

Pictures by @breakawaydigital

For The Geeks

I know some of you would like to see my FAZUA settings so here they are.

1st battery - 73 km, 1420 m, 6:19 hr (Breeze Mode Only)

2nd battery - 77 km, 1380 m, 6:25 hr (Breeze Mode Only)

3rd battery - 46 km, 960 m, 2:58 hr (Breeze, River & Rocket Mode)

For The Geeks

I know some of you would like to see my FAZUA settings so here they are.

1st battery - 73 km, 1420 m, 6:19 hr (Breeze Mode Only)

2nd battery - 77 km, 1380 m, 6:25 hr (Breeze Mode Only)

3rd battery - 46 km, 960 m, 2:58 hr (Breeze, River & Rocket Mode)