Checkpoint Numbers & Names
Isle of Wight 4 – Cowes
Isle of Wight 5 – Haventstreet
Isle of Wight 6 – Calborne
BCQ Day 29 was to be memorable for two reasons,
- It was the first time I would be taking my bike touring overnight and carrying my stuff with me on the back of the bike.
- Today would be the day I broke 1000 miles cycling on the BCQ
So, with a little trepidation it was time to set off – and the first part of the day went off without a hitch – the five mile ride to the nearest station at Wokingham. From here on in though things turned a little stressful for a while as my intended train at 9.13 was cancelled meaning I would now have to catch one thirty minutes later which put me on edge for catching my pre-booked ferry crossing to the island, having made it to Guildford where I was due to change trains I discovered that the next train to Portsmouth which would have still got me to my ferry with about forty minutes to spare was also running a bit late! However, once the train was boarded the driver seemed to do his best to make up time and we got to Portsmouth with about twenty minutes in hand and plenty of time to catch the catamaran across the Solent, which passed without incident.
Everyone that I’d spoken to about riding in the IOW had said that it was hilly, and boy they weren’t joking, upon leaving the pier my planned route took me almost immediately up a steep hill away from the sea front and around the town a little before dropping down slightly. Unbeknown to me, my planned route turned in to a bit of off-roading at about the two mile mark for a couple of miles along a bridleway that was also marked cycling route 22. Whilst this was fine for my touring bike with fatish road tyres, if you’re on a skinny tyred bicycle and following my gpx then you might want to navigate around this.
Once I’d finished the bridleway and rejoined the road again, the sign for the village for Havenstreet quickly popped up meaning I was at the first checkpoint of the day. Having cycled through the village, and almost out the other side I came across the station for the Isle of Wight steam railway, and after a little bit of searching managed to eventually locate the checkpoint and take a photo. With a bit of time to spare, there was also still the opportunity for me indulge in another interest of mine and have a little poke around the station and see the steam trains.
So with time moving on, and conscious that I had a bit of a deadline to check in at the B&B I re-mounted my trusty steed and headed of to Cowes and checkpoint number 2 for the day. Skirting around Newport I had opted to take the roads on the east of the Medina river for two reasons, one was the hope of visiting Osborne House on the way in to Cowes, which turned out to be a very fleeting one as I could only visit the gardens due to there not being anywhere to safely leave my my bike while I went in to the house. So after an all too brief pitstop time to head on in to East Cowes itself and my second reason for coming this way, the chain ferry, having already traveled by bicycle, train and catamaran this was to be my fourth mode of transport of the day – I wonder how many questers have said that?
Once across the ferry it was back to the hills again as I crossed over to the west side of Cowes, down Egypt Hill and on to Egypt Esplanade itself where I found the checkpoint at the very end of the esplanade nearest to Cowes. What I also found was a pretty strongly blowing headwind as I rode the length of the esplanade and out to Gurnard to start the inland leg to Calbourne and checkpoint number 3.
Inevitably as soon as I left the Esplanade the road turned up-hill and it was a bit of a vicious hill to be fair, not long but very steep. Once I reached the top the road through to Calbourne, which, whilst being very scenic with lots of rolling hills, was actually fairly non-descript, with nothing more than a lot of empty roads and fields for company.
So eventually I cruised in to Calbourne and almost cycled past the church (not good as it was on the downward stretch of a hill so I would have had to do a ‘U’ turn and go back up). With a photo duly taken, there were a few minutes in hand to spend some time looking around the church and neighbouring tourist attraction Winkle Street, as the rumbles of hunger had started and it was time to find somewhere for a snack before the last six or so miles in to Freshwater where I would be staying for the night.
As I left Calbourne the Calbourne Water Mill came to my rescue, this is the islands only working Watermill still grinding flour and with a nice cafe and an interesting museum to have a look around you could easily spend half a day here exploring and relaxing. So after feeling fully refreshed and ready for the last stint in to what I would assume be an uphill ride in to Freshwater I hit the road again. I was correct in my assumption for the first mile or so, but once I had crested the hill in the village of Shalcombe I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of the route was either relatively flat or downhill and before I knew it I was at the B&B and ready for a shower and dinner!
All things considered, after the initial panics with the trains this was a great days questing and I really unearthed a gem in the guest house at Freshwater where I had a great room, secure cycle parking, and a great cooked breakfast to see me on my way the following morning. The only disappointment was my planned Fish and Chip supper was put on hold as the local shop was closed for staff holidays!
Miles Cycled – 27
Checkpoints Visited – 3
Total Miles Cycled – 1009
Total Checkpoints Visited – 61
Click here to download a gpx of this ride