The Team headed to the Isle of Wight this weekend on a plan to cycle around the island in a day, at just over 60 miles this seemed more than achievable and we were all looking forward to the fun day out cycling in the sunshine…..
Meeting Megan on the island on Saturday morning, Ryan and myself were half an hour late arriving due to a delayed ferry – there’s not a lot you can do when you reply on public transport! Setting off on the ride at 11.30am shouldn’t have been too much of a problem, we were still determined to make it most of, if not all, the way around.
Disaster #1 is otherwise known as Jen’s navigation skills. The Isle of Wight has a ’round the island’ route which is handily marked out with road signs. I say ‘handily’, but actually I lie. There are two routes, one clockwise and one anticlockwise, that both have very similar signs to direct you.
As you can see from this picture, the signs are not at all confusing (“was it white on a blue background or blue on a white background we’re supposed to be following?”). Not so easy to navigate when you’re in an unfamiliar place and you’re swimming around the cycle route (more on that later).
The navigation woes started as soon as we set off and I immediately headed in the wrong direction Ryan realised this but wanted me to learn to be more confident in my navigating…by not telling me I was navigating for the first 20 minutes. Team Pedal then meandered around the Isle of Wight for a good 30 minutes, getting lost and heading around the same roundabouts several times before finding our way….mostly.
Disaster #2 was the snapping of Ryan’s chain. Just after I’d got us lost for the fourth time we set off to cycle over a particularly busy roundabout only to have Ryan’s chain snap just as he was moving out into traffic. I found it a lot scarier then he did, and we grabbed the bike and broken bits and huddled down in an underpass to fix it. Whilst Ryan nipped off to a nearby shop to use their facilities Megan and I started on the chain fixing – a real team effort!
Disaster #3 has to be the weather. After seeing the weekend weather forecast we were under no illusions that the day would be a wet cycle. For Megan this was the first time she had cycled in the rain. I’m used to cycling in the rain now, doing it quite frequently on my commute to work. However, I don’t think any of us were strong enough to cycle past the warm dry cake selling cafe after cycling for 16 miles in torrential rain.
We have to thank The Dairy Deli for welcoming three very drenched cyclists and comforting us with tea, coffee, hot chocolate and home made cakes. It was a very welcome break from the downpour and we were all a little reluctant to get back on the bikes.
At this point we had spent a lot of the day lost in navigation hell, fixing broken chains, and being drenched by cars deliberately driving through deep puddles to soak us…we faced the reality that we would not have the time to make it around the whole island. Instead, we decided to start heading back to base and cut it short to 30 miles, with an option of an extended loop should we be up for it once we’d continued a bit further.
Back out in the rain we jumped on the bikes…and Megan instantly fell off again. I was concerned briefly that she may have hurt herself until I realised she was lying on the floor laughing.
Back on the road we made it up to 27 miles before I pulled over to the side of the road to make sure we were definitely heading in the right direction again. Ryan spotted a bus shelter where we could huddle away from the rain to check the map and I attempted to push my bike over the centimetre high kerb to go towards the shelter. I say attempted, because I promptly fell sideways landed heavily on my knee. (Disaster number…what are we up to now?)
Hobblingly along I decided I didn’t really want to do that extra loop and was quite happy with 30 miles thank you very much.
Setting off again Ryan and Megan soon sailed in to the distance as I made another emergency stop to deal with my chain jammed for the third time that day (Disaster number 4824732462). I caught them up for the last few miles and we returned to base looking rather like we’d spent the day underwater cycling, which is frankly what it felt like.
Overall it was a weekend of mixed fortunes. We all got some good experience in cycling in torrential rain. Megan got some great experience in on road cycling in the rain. Megan and I got some great experience in falling off (again). Most importantly we got to do a lot of route planning, eating good food, spending time with wonderful family and planning ways to make cycling to Switzerland more enjoyable for everyone….