5 Top Tips for Road Cycling on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight offers a lot for a road cyclist. Not only is it blessed with being the sunniest place in Britain (always a good start), it also holds one of the most varied and versatile mixture of roads of perhaps anywhere in the UK.

Whether you're looking for a challenging hilly route, with 25% gradients and swooping descents; or you are planning a gentle spin on traffic-free riverside cycle paths - you will find both in these 235 square miles.

I have been riding a road bike on the Island (amongst many other places) for the last ten years, and in that time I reckon I have covered pretty much every road on offer. I can't say that I have ever grown tired of the area though; there really are a huge variety of routes to choose from. The constantly changing coastal landscape also offers a superb backdrop to any ride.

Road cycling on the Isle of Wight

In the last five years or so, road cycling has really taken off on the Isle of Wight. The Island now hosts several sportive events, as well as the incredibly popular Isle of Wight Randonnee. There is a good reason for that exponential growth; the Isle of Wight is very accessible and welcoming to cyclists.

So how do you go about unlocking the huge potential that the Isle of Wight holds for road cycling?

Once you have made your way there, via the multitude of frequent bike-friendly transport links, it is pretty simple to find a bike friendly BandB, hotel or campsite. Then, it is time to get out and explore!

In this post, I thought I would share five insider tips for getting the most out of a road cycling break on the Isle of Wight…

1 - Explore

The Isle of Wight features an extensive network of lanes, cycle paths, and quiet country roads.

From the scenic rolling Military Road, to the dead-end lung-busting climbs to radar stations and lighthouses (read about the #9RoadsToNowhere); there is something for everyone.

Contact me on Twitter (@timwiggins1) if you are looking for some tailored route suggestions.

2 - Make a café or pub stop

There is no better feeling than wrapping your hands around a warm mug of coffee or a bowl of soup, when you are mid-way through a winter ride. Alternatively, slurping down some local Minghella's Ice Cream in the summer months, is a treat worth riding for.

There are plenty of great café stops to choose from on the Isle of Wight, and some superb country pubs as well.

To name a few of my favourite pub stops: The Taverner's Inn in Godshill, Buddle Inn in Niton, and The Pointer Inn at Newchurch, will all serve up a great bowl of warming soup in winter.

For coffee and cake lovers: The Royal Hotel in Ventnor does an amazing afternoon tea; Chale Green Stores does a superb lunch; or the Ventnor Botanic Gardens is a great place to relax in tropical surroundings and munch on one of their famous homemade meringues.

3 - Ride with friends

Cycling can be a very sociable sport, and it is always great to ride with mates.

The Isle of Wight has even more to offer a road cyclist, if you have a riding buddy to share the experience with.

They will be able to help share the load into that headwind along the Military Road, and take a photo of you when you've completed the legendary climb up Down Lane in Ventnor (read about my St. Boniface Down 'Everesting').

4 - Prepare for all conditions

The Isle of Wight deserves its reputation for being the 'sunniest place in Britain'; often it is raining on the mainland, but when I get to the Island it is bathed in sunshine.

This said, it is also an island of exposed coastlines, and weather beaten climbs. It is always worth taking some back-up kit with you when you ride here.

I ride with a Gore Bike Wear Rescue Jacket in my jersey pocket all year round now; because you can never be too sure when the next Atlantic storm will come rolling in.

5 - Also head off-road

Finally, I really recommend also considering some off-road riding.

This might seem odd to suggest in a post about road cycling; but if you don't experience the off-road riding on the Isle of Wight, you are missing out.

The network of bridleways and byways offers quiet, traffic-free bliss; with some incredible views.

Of course, you might just have to embrace a bit of mud every now and again.

I Love Wight

The Isle of Wight is a fantastic place to ride a bike, whatever the season.

In the summer months, it provides sun-bathed tarmac, and a whole host of different route types. [It is worth noting that in the past few years, the majority of the roads have been resurfaced by a French road laying firm on a PFI agreement - they are super smooth].

In the winter months, it is beautifully secluded and quiet; and as long as you wrap-up against the elements, you will be in for some incredible riding, and beautiful winter views.

Whether you are heading over for a day trip or a weeklong getaway; you will find everything you want from a cycle ride on the Island. Coast roads, quiet lanes, leg-burning gradients, and easy pedals.

This is without doubt still my favourite place to ride a bike in the world.


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