This blog is new. I did a lot of cycling before I started the blog, and I thought it’d be good, once in a while, to look back through the archives and do a few posts about cycle tours and events I’ve done. So here comes the first one.
The Isle of Wight Randonnee
The Randonnee is a bit of a famous event and takes place in the Isle of Wight every early May bank holiday. It’s definitely more audax than sportive and attracts a really diverse crowd of cyclists for either a 100km or 50km ride round the island. This was the first year that I’d done the randonnee; it had been on my to-do list for ages.
It’s a free to enter event and the guys at the Wayfarer Cycle Touring Club do a great job organising an extremely well run event.
We chose to make a weekend of it, and having the family in tow with all their kit in the car, meant that taking my Brompton was the logical choice. I also hoped that it would make the event a bit different. I’d toured on my Brompton before, doing the Coasts and Castles route the previous year, but this would be the first time I’d attempted a route that would be best described as ‘a bit lumpy’. I knew that a few people did the event on Brompton’s, but being in the minority did appeal to me.
We also chose to camp, knowing that it would be a little cold overnight in early May, but hopefully fun nevertheless. So, with our car full of family, blankets, camping equipment and more blankets, we set off.
We stayed at Kite Hill Farm campsite which also, handily, was one of the starting points for the ride. The 100km route meant that each cyclist had to get their card stamped at 6 checkpoints, which were situated around the ‘Round the Island’ route. The event broadly follows the well known route; the exception this year being a detour because the Wootton – East Cowes chain ferry wasn’t operating. This in fact made the route a little longer than 100km 🙂
Kite Hill Farm is handily placed close to the ferry terminal, and having got the ferry from Southampton and driven the short distance, we pitched the tent and settled in. There were lots of other cyclists there already and the campsite filled up with more throughout the evening. Soon it was time for food, then bed, hoping to stay warm enough. Fortunately we did just.
I awoke early. Well the kids awoke early and then I awoke, would be more precise, but that meant plenty of time to get kit ready.
I was riding my standard Brompton, an S6L with lowered gearing. I’d come to appreciate that lowered gearing as the ride progressed. It was also an ideal ride to try out my new Mini O bag.
So, with bike ready and kit ready, I set off to collect my card and start my ride. The weather was excellent, not too hot, and with minimal wind. I got chatting to a number of different cyclist as I went, with many wondering if I was actually doing the full 100km, given the bike I was riding. I explained a few times how I’d ridden from Newcastle to Edinburgh the year before, and assured them I’d be ok.
One great thing about the Radonnee is the legendary refreshment stops. At Bembridge and Yarmouth, the local PTA’s organise a huge spread of homemade food and excellent homemade cakes, all at really good prices, with profits going to the local schools. Just in case I couldn’t wait until the feeding stations then I did also take a few essentials with me.
The ride itself was really enjoyable. The route takes mostly minor roads, is really well signposted, and is suitably challenging, especially in the south east of the island on the military road. There’s some proper hills to climb and it was great to get a few cheers from spectators as I rode up on the Brompton. I met a few other Brompton riders as I went round but we were definitely in the minority. Chapeau to those I saw doing the full 100km on 3 speed Brompton’s, those hills must have been tough! The bike performed well, I felt I had all the gears I needed and I had no mechanical’s at all, not even a puncture.
The only thing I forgot was to start my Garmin. So consequently, when I returned to Kite HIll and got my last stamp I had no idea how long the ride had actually taken or how far I had gone. Still, this ride was not about times, it was about enjoying cycling, and enjoying the excellent scenery of the Isle of Wight. I also got a nice certificate, and bought an Isle of Wight Randonnee badge, which was a bonus.
Overall it was a great event. I’m definitely coming back next year and I’d recommend it to everyone who can make it to the Isle of Wight. The atmosphere. organisation and cakes are first class.
I took my standard S6L 2013 Brompton. It has the 12% lowered gearing which I appreciated on the hills. I carried water by fixing a clip on bottle holder to the stem. The bike also has SPD pedals.
I carried my riding kit (tools, food, clothes) in a Mini O bag. This worked well, being just the right size for me to be able to stuff everything in, but still remaining pretty aerodynamic. Not cheap but worth it I reckon.
Riding food was provided by Mr Kipling, and the Bembridge and Yarmouth PTA’s. The home cooked food and cakes were much better.