6th June 2018: Isle of Wight (IoW) day.
It was an early start, 5:30 am from Hastings, for my Isle of Wight bike ride day. This involved a drive to Portsmouth and then a Ferry to the IoW and I arrived in time to catch the 8:00 am ferry. Parking was available opposite the ferry and, given it was mid week, the car park was relatively empty. Just FYI: I opted for 7 hrs parking which cost 7.90 GBP.
The ferry was 16 GBP for a return trip to IoW and the trip over was around 45 min. Foot passengers and cyclists get on and off the ferry first with bikes taking pride of place up the front end of the ferry.
My research had suggested there was some locker storage on IoW but not at the ferry terminal. Not one of the staff I talked to had ever heard of the locker storage so I ended up carrying bits and pieces in a plastic bag ‘backpack’ all round the island – not ideal and if anyone was just doing a day trip to ride around IoW I would recommend taking a proper backpack or just get the ferry with only the bike gear you plan to wear.
In preparation for this day I had downloaded a route to my Garmin for the ride but, as this was my first experience using courses on my Garmin, I initially got lost, or “off course” in Garmin lingo. Google maps helped me to get to Yarmouth where the Garmin kicked in and put me back on course. I had hoped to see the Needles, a cluster of distinctive chalk stacks, but the Garmin course took me cross-country to Freshwater Bay where I stopped for a few photos. Following on from Freshwater Bay, going anti-clockwise around the IoW, is a reasonable climb and when I got to the top there were magnificent panoramic views back to Freshwater Bay and to the South-East alongside the cliffs.
From Freshwater Bay it was then quite a bit of a grind, with the two of the biggest climbs just before and after Ventnor, and then a descent onto a very pretty little village, Rylstone, where it was time for a rest and recovery milkshake. It is definitely worth stopping at Rylstone, it is very pretty with lots of cafe’s, pubs and restaurants.
My Garmin had a bit of a wobbly leaving Rylstone and sent me back and forth along the High Street until it ‘found’ me back on course. From Rylstone it was a further 25km of mostly up and down hills back to Fishbourne Ferry Terminal which I was rather pleased to see. This last 25 km was actually quite tough as your legs don’t get much of a break since there are about 13 hills in the 4-7% gradient bracket and no flat sections to spin for recovery.
Throughout the day I did notice that all the other riders, and there were quite a few of them, were going in the opposite direction to me and perhaps clockwise is the best way to ride IoW as you get all the hills over and done with in the first third of the ride while you have fresh legs – something to remember for next time.
I made it back in time to get the 1:30 pm ferry back to Portsmouth. I fueled up with a sandwich, fruit juice and Mars bar and then tackled the drive back to Hastings which took me 3 hours due to afternoon peak-hour traffic along a route which only barely by-passes some of the major cities along the southern coast of England.
All in all a great albeit exhausting day.
Regards … Mark