round Britain by bike

Isle of Wight | October 2011

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The Isle of Wight – a perfect spot for cycling. And it's not like I haven't had the opportunity to get a quick lap under my belt in the past.

Seven years ago Steve and I were here on the very first leg of our round-the-coast trip – although at that point it hadn't yet become a round-the-coast trip; it was simply a Weymouth-to-Brighton-by-the-quickest-route-possible jaunt, and as such we didn't actually see much of the island's coast, favouring instead a direct route through the centre, and as I recall, not enjoying it much at all due to having a stinking cold.

And then three years ago I was back again with Steve and James, with the express intention of cycling around the island's coast over the course of a long weekend. After a promising start we were thwarted by the remains of a tropical storm which decided to hit the island just as we reached the top of Culver Down – and then didn't leave. I like to think we gave it ample opportunity – we waited patiently in the pub in Sandown for absolutely ages, and at great personal expense – but in the end, when the following day showed no sign of the torrential rain abating, and the locals in the breakfast room at the Ocean Hotel were commenting on how they hadn't seen weather so bad for years, we decided to cut our losses, wade to the station, and head back to London.

So what made us come back again? In a word, Shanklin. I had brought my wife and my little boy here on holiday a few weeks previously, and was mightily impressed by the collection of pubs on the seafront and in the Old Village – so much so that I resolved to make another cycling trip to the island as soon as possible. Fortunately, James and David were available at short notice and required hardly any persuasion at all to join me, especially when I told them about the pubs in Shanklin – and so three weeks and one train journey later, we were queueing up for the ferry at Portsmouth Harbour.

Go to Day 1 (Ryde to Sandown)