Seeing as we have run out of historic Pub-2-Pub cycling mis-adventures this months blog is about my Myrtle, AKA the better half and also the designated responsible adult in our relationship. Being the Myrtle is not just an affectionate nickname but is a calling that few have chosen to take up the mantel. Myrtle has been cycling with me since 2017, her first bike was a step through Trek Navigator, that earned the name “Brambles”, as the bike and Myrtle spent most of their time arguing with vegetation of all types. Even Myrtle will admit that she is not the most confident rider and has balance issues, even to this day! Her next bike was what she called her first big girls bike, a Specialized Arial Hybrid named Sally, the bike used on this adventure. She has progressed to her first drop handlebar gravel e-bike, but this is a story for a future blog.
This year,(2019), the Son-in-law #2 (probationary) and myself would be undertaking our third Pub-2-Pub mis-adventure in the July, which that year was to be self-supported carrying our own luggage. I had purchased a new bike packing seatpost bag for the trip to go with the handlebar bag that I had bought in 2017 for our first P2P, and was wanting to have a trial run fully loaded to fine tune what I would be comfortable carrying and to see how the bike handled. Although the bike used for the test run would not the bike used on the P2P this I was still waiting to buy.
Myrtle and myself had started going on longer joint cycling trips and on Bank Holidays, if the weather is good we have full day cycling tour. It was the Easter weekend and what a weekend it would turn out to be, we Left Eastbourne at 5am in the car loaded for Southampton to get the ferry over to the Isle of Wight Arriving fairly early we parked the car up in a long stay car park near the ferry terminal where it would be staying for the day. It was a short five minute ride from the carpark to the ticket counter, which was closed! Luckily there was an automated ticket machine. Tickets bought we debated coffee now or wait until we board.
Whilst we was waiting for the ferry to dock and unload several other cyclist arrived and it soon turned into a bit of a lycra-fest! Once boarded and bikes parked we trouped up to the passenger deck to queue for breakfast, which turned out to be surprisingly good and value for money. Stomachs full we went to watch the Island grow larger and soon Cowes harbour came into sight. Returning to the car deck I set up the Garmins and finding the GPX route that I had plotted the night before, the boat docked, walking down the gangway we pulled to the kerbside to wait for all the vehicles to depart, and we was off.
Now when I planned this trip I knew there would be hills involved but for some reason I have never associated the Isle of Wight with being particular hilly, boy was I wrong. I had decided to get the hills out of the way in the first half of the ride because Myrtle has an intense hatred of hills! and struggles on them. Turning left out of the ferry terminal we headed towards Wootton, straight into a long climb, Myrtle stopped suddenly in front of me took one look at the hill ahead and promptly swore at me, “why is there a hill this early into the trip, I need to warm my legs up” she huffed at me and rode on. We soon passed the entrance to Osbourne House, the holiday home of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. The builder was Thomas Cubitt, the London architect and builder whose company built the main facade of Buckingham Palace.
Dropping down to Wootton Bridge we paused to take a couple of photos of Wootton Creek, before turning right just after the bridge onto Firestone Copse Road which is a much quieter road than the one we started on. We carried on climbing and in places Myrtle had to get off and push her bike, the looks she was giving me, I was starting to fear for my life! We stopped at the top of another hill to have a drink and catch our breath, the views over the countryside was spectacular, Myrtle asked if I had a snack bar as she was getting peckish. As I fumbled in my tube bag I felt the cold hand of death grip the back of my neck, I had left the snack bars on the kitchen counter at home! I’m going to die out here I thought and they are never going to find the body.
We rode on heading towards Bembridge, pulling into the North Quay to look for a snack shop or a café to no avail,this is going well I thought as I was getting the “look”, we took some phots instead and set off again. Following the road that skirted the harbour we passed houseboat upon houseboat, some were for rental as well, would love to have a stay in one, something to think about for the future. We was still climbing and the hills was getting steeper, we passed Bembridge Airport down to Yaverland and finally dropped onto the flat and Sandown Beach, time for a coffee and cake stop.
Leaving Sandown we pushed our bikes back up the hill and found the signage for the Red Squirrel Trail, as soon as we had joined it we came across the Peddallers Café, if I had known this was here we wouldn’t have stopped in Sandown. It was nice to get off the roads onto the traffic free cycle route and we was looking forward to seeing some of the famous red squirrels! (nope, not a sign, narda, none etc…). We crossed several roads fought our way past a crowed of locals watching a plastic duck race, passed loads of sculptures and plaques informing of what wildlife you could expect to see. The cycle route was well kept and very popular and we was soon approaching Newport, we decided to go into the town for some lunch. We found ourselves in front of the Minster, which the original late 12th-century church was dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury (Thomas Becket) (1118–1170). Later, under the rule of King Henry VIII of England(1509–1547), when Becket was declared to have been a traitor, the Canterbury part of the name was dropped. Finding a café in the shadow of the Minster we sat outside in the hot sunshine people watching whilst waiting for our food to be delivered, following lunch we had a short wander around the square window shopping.
Returning back to NCN 23 we headed towards Cowes, our plan was a side trip into Cowes Town for some cake and a coffee before getting the ferry back to the mainland. But not reading the signs correctly we missed the turning to the town and ended up at the Cowes Chain Ferry. We decided to cross and find a café on the other side, wrong, there isn’t any!! We saw the ferry arriving it was now 4pm and we decided to get this ferry. Taking the time to get out of our sweat soaked cycling clothes and with the judicial use of wet wipes to clean the chamois cream off we changed into the clothes I had in the saddle bag, and then devoured a chocolate cupcake each washed down with a coffee.
Bikes re-loaded onto the car, we left Southampton for the long journey back home, listening to the presenter on Radio 2 we lost count of how many times we was informed that this hottest day of the year, so far. All in all this had been a very good day trip, which we decided we would have to revisit the island again in the future with the bikes.