I adore this cycle. 110km, 1500m ascent, a perfect day out in the summer.
We planned to catch the “late” ferry over, at 9, meaning we left home shortly after 8am to drive to Portsmouth. Ferry tickets for the Portsmouth – Ryde ferry cost £15 each and there’s no need to book in advance. We rolled our bikes on, propped them off at the front of the ferry and headed upstairs for a coffee and a bacon sandwich. 25-ish minutes later, we were cycling off the ferry under clear blue skies.
We headed inland first, to avoid Ryde, with constant ups and downs on quiet, shaded roads, until we hit the coast for the first time at Bembridge. It wasn’t long until we left main roads behind and were rolling along tiny narrow lanes, barely wide enough for a car. James and were joking that his American friends wouldn’t understand that it was a road given how narrow it was.
The first proper climb is a gentle drag with a bit of a headwind, not too steep, and topping out with stunning views over fields and out across the English Channel. Then there’s a glorious descent on wide, well-surfaced roads until we reached another turn and went off on the tiny narrow roads again.
After enjoying the view we sped downhill through a small town to stop at a cafe for lunch – huge toasties and salads and a guy playing the piano, it was lovely. We’d planned for our lunch stop to be towards the end so after lunch we didn’t have far to go, only another 35km or so. But as is always the way, the last few hours seemed to go on forever, with Cowes always on the horizon but never there.
Finally we made it, swooping down the coast to cycle along a promenade with boats sailing by just beside us. There are a couple of short, very steep climbs through the town, and then we had to wait for the chain ferry to take us to East Cowes. Another steep climb out of the city and we only had a few km to go along a busy main road until we were back at the ferry port. Just time for an ice cream before the ferry arrived!