The hottest day of the year so far for our awayday ride on the Isle of Wight (again reinforcing the value of the Cyclebognor “no rain guarantee”) saw 7 meeting up at Ryde for our potter around the north of the Island.
I led Sheila and Andy (both new to the island), Andre, Chris, Alan and Bill, from Ryde pier eastward along the promenade where we stopped briefly at Appley Tower for a picture and to admire the view across the Solent.
Then continuing on a traffic free route we reached Seaview and headed inland, where the hill climbing started.
A bit of up and down followed before a stop for elevenses at Rosemary Vineyard, a favourite port of call hidden away south of Ryde.
Suitability refreshed it was time for more hills And I think on balance, more down than up as we made our way via Havenstreet and Firestone Copse to Wootton, then more traffic free riding to Wootton station where we were able to see the steam engine on the preserved line running round it’s train.
Then it was down onto the old railway track for a more or less level ride into Newport.
Last time we came this way, we had to leave the railway trail at Whippingham and take the cycle path along the main road, due to an unsafe bridge that crossed the old railway.
Today I found we were able to carry on the track for another 2 miles or so. The unsafe bridge had been demolished and replaced with a “level” crossing, but we had to leave the trail again near Belmont Farm as another dodgy bridge was clearly visible.
We dropped down to the main road cycle track where we were delayed as Bill got a puncture…. quite incidental to the off road track, I am sure. Not too much delay as the tube was quickly changed.
After a mile or so we rejoined the railway trail all the way through Newport Tunnel into Newport itself.
A pleasant lunch followed before it was time to head back. We took a recently completed cycle track (oddly constructed of a rubber mesh netting covering a pebble underlay)
This took us along the East bank of the River Medina for nearly 3 miles to the Island Harbour marina, home to the paddle steamer Ryde, now a sad decomposing wreck. This boat ran between the island and Portsmouth from 1937 to 1969, and also saw service at Dunkirk, being requisitioned in 1944.
Intended for restoration, the funds could not be raised and it now lies very seriously decayed, beyond hope.
From Island Harbour we ride via Alverstone down a seriously steep hill and up an even more seriously steep one, to Fishbourne and then on cycletrack to Quarr Abbey, our afternoon coffee stop.
Following this we made great time back to Ryde and the ferry.
Arriving at Portsmouth just after 5pm, we found the trains in utter chaos with three successive ones towards Chichester and Barnham all cancelled. Some of us cycled to Portsmouth &Southsea station where trains were terminating short, and from where we got to Havant only to progress no further until the others had caught us up.
To cut a long and not very interesting story short, Chris Sheila Andy and Bill left us at Chichester, Andre left at Barnham to cycle home and myself and Alan waited over an hour for a train down to Bognor, of course it would have been quicker to cycle. I think the Southern Railway delay and repay team will be hearing from us.
The mileage on the island was about 24, I had done over 30 when I got home.