Big Isle of Wight Challenge rolls on... - Phil Cox

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Been a busy weekend working on the September ride logistics and also driving some of the route on Sunday morning.

It wasn’t a great start when I didn’t hear the alarm and jumped out of bed at 7.55am for a 7.50am meet! Phil T picked me up and we met Simon C and Mark P in Grove. With Garmins beeping away, we set off for Lymington via Newbury, Andover, Romford and the New Forrest. This route is fairly well trodden by me (my wife’s aunt lives in New Milton) so I was aware of the climb out of Wantage and Newbury, the rest is flattish with a few bumps. When we arrived at Lymington, we’d clocked 73 miles.

A brief look round the ferry ticket office ended with a visit to Costa coffee next door. With cups in hand we sat outside and watched the latest ferry depart for the island. The Isle of Wight is notoriously hilly and this can be seen from the mainland, 67 miles around doesn’t sound a lot but with 80+ miles already in peoples legs plus the ride back to Wantage the island was going to be tough.

In a bid to add a few more miles to at least one of the routes, we went home via Winchester, Basingstoke and Pangbourne. We clocked 88 miles on the way back but to a man, decided against this route as it was very hilly for a good 25 mile section.  This would have been a tough 88 miles in isolation let alone the night-time (and last) leg of the challenge. Mark committed to plotting some other, slightly flatter routes!

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Left to Right: Phil Cox, Phil Tynan, Mark Popkiss

 All in all, time well spent. We had ruled out one route and also clocked various places where the van could safely stop. The quick look around the ferry terminal was also useful; especially noting the car park seemed very full for a Sunday morning. The scale of this challenge was firmly driven home, no room for complacency or bad planning on this one, time margins are too tight!

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Further reading…..

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