Saturday, 22 June 2013

Isle of Wight country roads

sign at the top of the road
I have been back on the Isle of Wight for a couple of days now. It's been a while, and this time I decided that I'd bring a road bike. For a number of years I rode around here on a mountain bike, but the frustration of always getting punctures led me to get rid of my only road bike a long time ago, having barely ridden it here at all.

After getting here on Sunday I popped out for a quick ride to loosen up my legs after having sat in a car for a good few hours. Coming over on the ferry, steely grey skys had welcomed me, with banks of cloud threatening rain. By the time I had driven the short distance home and got my gear on, the sun was out and I was contemplating sunscreen! 
I ended up just following the Isle of Wight cycle way. There are signs for it pretty much at the top of my lane, and I've never really gone on it on a bike, so I rode to the top of the lane, turned left and just pointed in the direction of the signs and rode. No real plan of where I was going to get to, I know the roads pretty well, from 18 years of living here, so I probably wasn't going to get overly lost. And even if I did, it wouldn't take long to find myself again. 

on the floating bridge
It eventually took me right to Niton, where I came upon a sign, freshwater in one direction and Newport in the other. I had been out for an hour and a bit, and took the Newport option, coming back through Rookley and Arreton. It ended up being about 65km. Although the Isle of Wight isn't renowned for its hills, it certainly undulates a lot as I recorded just over 1000m of ascent and descent. 

A couple of days later and I went out again. The weather had been hot and sultry for most of the morning, and it really looked as if it was going to rain at some point during the afternoon. Nevertheless, I kitted up and headed out the door, this time following the cycle signs the other way from the top of the lane, and going on an anticlockwise trip of the island. The plan was never to go all the way around, but rather to get over to Cowes, maybe a bit further, and then use my knowledge of the area to get me back across the island and home without too much difficulty. 

Within 40minutes I was on the chain ferry, waiting to go across the river Medina from East to West Cowes. The promised rain had not arrived, but there were a couple of drops in the air. On I went, finding the signage around Cowes a little confusing, but managing to get the right of it, and found myself cycling along the seafront, on my way toward Gurnard. 
All the little lanes I recognised from my youth, but I couldn't tell you how to get there, or what each place was called, and on I went through to Shalfleet, past Corf camp, the scout camp of my childhood, until I decided that I would no longer follow the signs, and broke off down toward Calborne mill.

After working my way through a number of roads, and making my way to Brighstone I picked up the cycleway once more, and continued across the Island back the other way. I had completely missed out Freshwater on my circuit, but I had never really planned on going that far anyway.

The return journey went through more clag, more back roads and eventually the sun started coming out again, and once past the hill that runs up to Blackgang, I recognised the route from the day before, and sat back to enjoy the scenery going past.
The entire route took about 3 and a half hours, during which I had a single bar and a single water bottle. It was 91km and 1150m of ascent.
An excellent ride out.

If you are thinking of coming to the Isle of Wight for a bit of biking, I can highly recommend it.

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