I rode this route on a sunny evening, heading out from the centre of Chichester towards the hills of the South Downs, taking in a mixture of forest singletrack, bridleways and quiet country lanes. At just over 23 miles, it takes between 2-4 hours to get round and includes a couple of tough climbs – but it’s all worth it for the descents that follow.
Starting next to the Cathedral I headed west along the road, turning north on the Centurion Way which gives a nice opportunity to warm the legs up before the climbing starts. On reaching Mid Lavant the route heads west along a quiet road (you’ll need to go under the road bridge and loop back around after a few hundred yards to join the road), and then north again on a bridleway up and over Stoke Clump and on to one of the tougher climbs of the route – up the side of Kingley Vale, this one is sure to get the legs burning. There are some fantastic views down to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight on the left, which is a perfect excuse to stop and catch your breath before pushing on to the top of Bow Hill.
At the top of the hill I passed through the middle of the Devil’s Humps, before dropping the saddle into the first big descent. Fairly steep in places, this descent lets you build up plenty of speed and then challenges you to carry as much of it as possible through some tight corners, before rolling down to the road at the bottom.
Crossing the road I followed another country lane for quite a while, not seeing a single car along the way, before climbing up the bridleway through West Dean Estate. The forest was a blaze of green leaves and bluebells when I rode here in May, and I’d reached the top before I knew it. The descent that followed was a pleasant surprise – I’d never ridden it before, and was expecting a wide fire road from the way it is marked on the map, but the bridleway itself is in fact a great bit of flowing singletrack along the side of the fire road.
By this time the sun was making its way down towards the horizon, so I started to head back through Singleton Forest and up the road to Goodwood. Past the end of the racecourse I turned into the car park and on to the bridleway up to the Trundle. Shortly after joining the bridleway it points upwards quite fiercely, which my legs didn’t thank me for, but knowing that it was the last climb of the day I ignored their protests and pressed on. At the top I was greeted by a perfect sunset, with views down over Chichester towards the sea.
From the Trundle I headed down Chalkpit Lane, which is a wide bridleway that is made interesting by the deep rain gullies snaking from side to side across it, with plenty of line choice when weaving your way down it at speed. Through East Lavant and past the Goodwood motor circuit, the route ends much like it starts with a nice relaxed warm down as you head back in to civilisation.