Saddle Sore – Reviews, Rides & Rablings – Cycling Blog

Isle of Night

Having been up since 06:00 to feed little Kitty (daughter not cat), and after a day at work, I had finished dinner and was ready for bed at 23:00. So I got up off the sofa put on my helmet and cycled the 5 miles to the car ferry port to catch the 23:59 crossing to Fishbourne.

“Tim had a caramel hot chocolate (ponce)”

Paul and Ashley were already waiting for me, Tim and Andy turned up soon after and loner Barry rolled in last. Six of us ready and waiting for a clockwise circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight. On board the St.Claire we fuelled up on coffee (Tim had a caramel hot chocolate (ponce)) and eulogised how brilliant and amazing we were for doing this ride at night.

We were on our wheels by 01:00 on Saturday, heading towards Ryde to take a detour South to the 24 hour Tesco. Jersey pockets filled (with food) and bladders emptied (of wee), we retraced our route back to Ryde and took the sea walk route all the way to Seaview where the only slight routing issue happened. Having planned the route using online mapping and not having ridden all the route we came across a private road that was not really a road, we had to backtrack a short while and take a slightly inland road.

From Seaview we cycled to Bembridge then on to Sandown, from Sandown we were able to take the esplanade all the way to Shanklin. Unlike the ‘Round Island Route’ (that takes you inland before Sandown), on the Isle of Night ride one can take roads and paths that one might not normally be able to take. At the end of the esplanade we climbed up at Shanklin Chine to tackle the first notable ascent: Cowleaze Hill.

After a rest and regroup at the top we flew down to Ventnor where we would ideally want to take Undercliff Drive along the coast but since it fell into the sea we didn’t have much choice but to go inland a little through Whitwell to Niton and up the second notable climb: Blankgang Road.

At the top of the hill we had ‘lunch’ in the carpark. We were now on an exposed road and the wind was at about 315 degrees to our direction (I’m sure there is a better explanation for this) and its 27mph forecast gusts would blast us between the sporadic cover of hedges. Despite the wind we powered our way along Military Road (the signposted route takes you inland for a large proportion of this) to Freshwater Bay where we regrouped again, ready for the assault on The Needles; though some people were starting to feel it.

At Freshwater the signposted route would have you head North but we headed West to Alum Bay up some mini switchbacks (I imagine this is much like Alpe d’Huez) to The Old Battery, the turned around and straight back down. With this change of direction we had the wind behind us and we sped to Totland (we started to see people and cars again) and Yarmouth. By now the sun was up and the with it our spirits.

We headed inland again (no coastal roads) with Gurnard in our sights. After Gurnard we took the esplanade around Cowes, through the pedestrianised high street (naughty but no one was around) to the chain ferry. The heavens opened and it lashed it down for 5 minutes. While the ferry made its tethered return to us we shelter at a bus stop and by the time the ferry had docked the rain had stopped.

At this point I think everyone just wanted breakfast and Wetherspoons in Ryde was our destination. So, up out of East Cowes, past Osbourne House, past Whippingham and left towards Wootton Bridge. We dishearteningly had to pass the ferry port to which we earlierly arrived and retrace our ealier route to Ryde (logistical ferry and food reasons forced this overlap).

It was a tough last few miles for a couple but we all made to Wetherspoons at 07:50.

You can view and download the route here.

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