Monday, 4 May 2015

Isle of Wight Randonee

Monday 4th May 2015-05-04

Isle of Wight Randonee

Apologies for no photos, I thought it too wet to take a camera and my phone was tucked away to keep dry.

I was staying at my sons house near  Wimborne overnight to avoid the two and half hour  drive down to Lymington on Sunday morning for the start of the Isle of Wight Randonee [] at 9:00 am. This is an annual event that is free to enter, the route is following the round the island cycle route, it usually attracts over 2000 riders from the mainland. It is extermly well organised and gives a good opportunity and reason to go across to The IOW.
I awoke at about 5:00 am to the sound of drumming rain on the roof and in the trees outside. I kept telling myself that the forecast said it would clear by 11am, that was the BBC and the met office, surely they can’t both be wrong!!!
We were both up by 6:30, porridge and large mugs of tea, whilst an impatient brown Labrador sat at my feet with his ball ready for a play!! Not this morning though.

Loading up the car saw us getting very wet as the rainfall  seemed to be increasing, another check on the internet, yep! Its says by 11:am?? [which day though!] we agreed that we would drive down anyway, as ferry tickets were booked, get across to the IOW and then decide whether to catch the next ferry back. A very wet drive down to Lymington, getting there very early and giving us an opportunity to park on a street in the town avoiding the £6:20 parking fees at the ferry terminal. As we unloaded the bikes, the rain continued to shower, then downpour, then shower etc, helped by the wind, and determined to get us wet before we started.

We checked everything, both of us in winter gear, tights, thermal vests, wind proof jackets with waterproofs over the top, and winter gloves, overshoes were essential. We were off, cycling down to the ferry, a large queue for the 9:15 ferry [there was no ferry at 8:15 so we would be an hour late starting, along with many others] we were herded aboard, and given a whole, car deck to ourselves, it was very busy, most dressed for wet weather, some not so, in shorts and thin jerseys! Did they know something we didn’t??

After a 40 minute ferry ride we all exited at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, amazingly it was not raining! Very low cloud and a brisk south westerly blowing, but not actual raining. We checked in after what seemed like ages in a big queue.

We were off following the signs for the clockwise route around the island allegedly, 100 k [62miles] we were in a large pelaton of riders of all shapes and sizes on differing bikes, expensive road bikes, cheap road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids, some riders rushing to get to the front of the group, some being very slow and causing hold ups, the car drivers behind must have been cursing, trying to overtake what was estimated at about 100 + cyclists is a nightmare.

We settled into the ride, I soon took off my waterproof and stashed in my bag, we were setting a good pace as we had a tail wind for much of the section to Cowes, riders were coming and going from the front, we overtook some to be re-overtaken later. We were soon at the ‘floating bridge’ at Cowes where we had a 10 minute wait for the ferry, there again was a huge queue of riders, we crammed on, bike to bike, shoulder to shoulder for the short crossing. At the other side there was a stiff climb out of Cowes which caught many of the riders out in the wrong gear, we had done about 20 miles so we stopped for a snack of Hot Cross buns and jam[my staple diet when cycling distance at  192 calories each + jam and nicely filling].

After a quite undulating and busy section we reached Bembridge which was supposed to be about half way round at approximately 30 miles. Here was a chance to sample cakes and goodies on sale by the local school, a chance to top up water bottles etc. It was here that the sun shone for a very short while and it was a little warmer.

On leaving Bembridge we then realised that the next 30 miles we would have a head wind!! We managed to stop and get a mug of tea at the checkpoint in Whitwell, which was welcome along with some flapjack and more HCBs, As we climbed out of Whitwell, there followed a steep sharp descent into Blackgang Chine before another long climb up onto the cliffs, we  were setting a good pace up here [surprising!!] and overtook many others and few overtook us, we took it in turns to take the lead, so each of us had some respite from the fierce wind. At the top we were treated to the coast and sea line peeping out of the mist below, before descending and turning inland once more towards Yafford, the landscape here was very Normandy like, open fields.

We then turned back onto the coast, and once again found our selves on a long climb on the military road, we adopted a pace we could stick at and plodded on, again overtaking many cyclists, and many of whom had started from Cowes so had further to go that us. It was a tough climb to the top, then the sun came out, the surf showing white and the Needles cliffs just appearing round the corner, again a rapid descent, only spoiled by the fierce headwind, that kept our speed down and kept catching the front wheel, causing moments of panic as you were forced to keep the bike in a straight line.

The final section was along the old railway track, a gravel section with lots of walkers to dodge and dogs on extended leads that needed to be avoided at all costs. As we exited back into Yarmouth we had just missed the 4:15 ferry so had to wait for the 5:15, luckily the sun came out and there was some warmth as we waited on the Quay for the ferry to arrive. We had taken about 5 hours, my computer said we had cycled 65.6miles climbed 5900 feet and I had used 4000 + calories, we both agreed it had been a good day out and we both agreed we didn’t feel too bad even after the climbs into the wind.

The ferry back was very busy and all seats taken, arriving in Lymington, the rain started once again, and as we drove back towards Wimborne there were some heavy showers. A repeat of the start to the day!!!

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