Setting off at the unearthly hour of 3.00 am we wondered what possessed us to book a ferry to the Isle of Wight so early. It turned out to be the right decision as after a trouble free journey we arrived in Ryde in time to meet Sue & Mike for breakfast, giving us three clear days on the island.
After sorting out parking for the weekend, and a quick change into cycle gear, we headed to East Cowes with the intention of cycling to Newport down the east side of the river Medina and back again along the west side. The start of the ride went up, up and up, but eventually we found ourselves going down again towards the river. Unfortunately, while there is a path down the east side, most of it isn’t suitable for cycling so we had to walk a lot of it. In Newport we found a nice pub, The Bargeman’s Rest, for lunch and then headed back to Cowes. This time, there was a very nice, smooth, tarmac cycle path so we did actually ride!! Arriving back in Cowes we crossed back to East Cowes by way of the chain ferry and then headed back to the car, not before Steve ripped his shorts on the gate, which required a quick repair job later that afternoon.
Back at base, we had a walk down to Ryde pier to arrange an E-bike for Sue, the hills having proved it necessary, and then back to our room to shower and change for dinner with the Speedy People, stopping off for a drink en route.
After breakfast with the whole crew, photos taken at the pier and the E-bike collected, the slow group headed off on a route planned by Derek, along the sea front at Ryde to Shanklin, by way of Seaview, Nettlestone, St Helen’s, Bembridge Harbour, and a narrow road that turned into another unridable path – more walking (the views were good though). Drinks at Yaverland were followed by a ride into Shanklin along the sea front and then up the cliff lift to Shanklin Old Village where Derek and Sam left us to head for Godshill. Lunch at Vernon Cottage tea gardens was accompanied by live music in the way of a singer/guitarist, who was actually very good and we nearly stayed there for the afternoon. Heading off on the bikes once more, we made our way inland to Brading via some of the cycle route through Apse Heath, Alvestone and Adgestone, which proved fairly lumpy but we managed it, just. Tea at Brading Station while we waited for the train, (which we couldn’t get on due to space), and then back on the road again, only to be diverted due to a road closure which meant we returned to Ryde following pretty much the same route back through St Helen’s, Nettlestone and Seaview, with another walk along a path thrown in.
Meeting up with the others for a ride along the pier, ice cream and beer, the E-bike was then returned and we headed back to get changed for our second evening meal out, stopping off for a drink on the way.
A decision had been made not to ride on Sunday, so after breakfast, we packed up, and headed out to The Needles, spending a very nice couple of hours with Sue & Mike in the sunshine, on the chair lift down to the beach to see the sands, watch the boats, and basically chilling out. Heading to Yarmouth for lunch, we couldn’t get parked so a change of plan saw us eating at the Horse and Groom pub near Shalfleet before heading back to the port to catch the Ferry and the journey home.
So yes, there was more eating, drinking, walking, and catching other modes of transport than actual cycling, but we had a great weekend, with wonderful weather, and wonderful people. Thank you to everyone who was there for such a good weekend, and a special thanks to Tracey for the idea and accommodation planning.
Helena & Steve