On the weekend of July 14/15 I set off nice and early with my Brother in law Henk, (who I’ve managed to talk into going with me on some training sessions) to catch the 07.00 ferry to the Isle of Wight to begin two days of riding around the entire island on my Challenge bike fully loaded with panniers.
The IOW has some fantastic landscapes and is a favourite place of mine to hold charity fundraising events and challenges, such as walking non stop around the island and various cycle rides.
My route is 73 miles around the coast, the island is the perfect place for training for my 50 dayer as there are many steep, long hills and various rugged, long and winding roads.
Starting from the ferry port in Fishbourne we head east towards Ryde where we stop for a spot of breakfast to set us fully on our way.
From there it’s on to Bembridge and to the coast guard station, heading along to Sandown and Shanklin where it’s a pleasant ride along the esplanade, but then it’s back on the hills to Ventnor where my bike ran out of gears to get me up some very steep hills!
My legs were burning from pumping the pedals and from the extra weight of the gear in the panniers, but it levelled out and We took five to soak in the view and to grab some water.
Riding on several more rolling hills we ended our day in Chale and stayed at the White Mouse, where we are always made very welcome, the menu, staff and accommodation are second to none.
Next morning after breakfast we loaded the bike and began our ride.
Starting along military road with a head on wind towards Freshwater, some more amazing views were perfect for taking your mind off the steep inclines!
Before heading into Freshwater we had to face a long and steep hill which kept the gear changing busy! Not much conversation going on until we made it to the top and freewheeled in to Freshwater.
Here we looked back up the mighty hill we just came over and felt some pride at making it.
Next stage was on to Allum Bay to see the Needles and then the roads became a little less steep on towards Yarmouth
In Yarmouth we treated ourselves to a well earned ice cream and sat for a while to soak in the activities of the harbour.
We then got back in the saddle and headed slightly inland towards East Cowes where we rode on quieter country roads, but still the odd sneaky steep hill raised its head from time to time!
The sun was certainly beating down and it was draining every ounce of energy I had, but a quick energy gel soon fuelled my tank and I was back tackling the hills.
In East Cowes and Cowes we had two more major hills and then it was rolling roads back to Fishbourne and a well earned pint before boarding the ferry back to the main land and home!
So what have I learned on this training weekend??
Well the weather was amazing but the heat does drain the energy out of you fast, I carried two bottles of water with me and needed to top up each day plus grabbing a can of lemonade, so I reckon on carrying three bottles with me on the actual challenge to be on the safe side, especially in remote parts of the country.
Food wise I carried a couple of Pulsin cereal bars and a couple of gels and a pack of haribo.
On the challenge PowerBar will keep me fuelled throughout the day with various items that they are putting together for me and I will start each day with a Pulsin cereal bar for breakfast as these are light to carry but are full of energy and flavour.
I carried four panniers and a handlebar bag with most of the gear I anticipate taking on the ride, but I hope to reduce some of the items and keep a bit of weight down there.
The panniers did work perfectly though and didn’t unbalance me at all.
The Garmin I used for the route was absolutely brilliant, but I do need to keep it plugged into an external power source as the battery drains rapidly on live maps.
My Go Pro also captures things well although I may need to look into getting another mount that doesn’t rattle around so much.
The bike is a great bike and very comfortable but to be honest, it’s not suitable for the challenge ahead.
It is a very heavy bike and the gearing is all wrong and changing gear on hills causes you to almost stop but your legs are traveling at 6 times faster then they need to be,
It got me up every hill except one in Cowes where I had to turn up hill from a junction and my legs just burned out struggling up the hill.
So I’ve decided I need to look into getting another bike, something equally as strong, a lot lighter and with suitable gears, and one that will take my panniers.
Fitness wise I feel good and my legs and lungs are doing me proud but I could make the whole experience easier by simply losing a couple of stone in weight!
I know I still need to work on my weight and the diet, but these sunny evenings in the garden with a beer and the weekend bbqs don’t help the plan,
But the guys at Nuffield Health Gym in Chichester have written me up both a fitness plan and a diet to work to, which is specific for my ride.
I am pleased with how the the weekend went and it has prepared me nicely for the hills of Cornwall, Wales and Scotland
So I’m now it’s back out on the weekend long rides around the Goodwood area and on the turbo in the evenings, but I’m now planning to do a 100 miler around the New Forrest Area in September by which time I may have a new bike and I will certainly be back over to the Isle of Wight many times between now and next June to keep tackling those cheeky inclines 👍🏻👍🏻