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FEATURE I ISLE OF WIGHT


that gives you a massive comforting hug whilst patting your back rather enthusiastically, and all this mixed with the soothing hint of sea air.


I ENCOUNTERED THE JOYS OF A NETTLE STING


The route took me through some stirring countryside, at times there was not much sign of civilisation, only the sporadic tractor or 4X4, it was blissfully tranquil. I found some remote dusty gravel tracks with some breathtaking views, unfortunately my impromptu escapade resulted in some rather painful nettle sting to my exposed ankles. The bumpy track deteriorated into a mass of rocks and sand, and as the landscape unfolded into a glorious open expanse, suddenly by chance I stumbled on Godshill. The village consists of a scattering of quaint cottages arranged expertly to create a twee picture postcard setting but unfortunately it’s been touched by the heavy hand of progress and globalisation. However, I did enjoy the aesthetic Cotswold appeal but on a summers day, I can only imagine the streets packed full of polluting coaches overflowing with


snappy happy tourists. My stay was brief, with a whimsical glance towards the Model Village I focused on the south coast and Ventnor. Many fine views followed as I made my way tentatively into Ventnor. The adrenalin was flowing as I descended at speed into the heart of the pleasant town. Unfortunately, a feeling of desolation hung over me as I had to accept that a rather substantial climb awaited me on departure. The harbour is the main focus of the town, it reminded me of a stereotypical US harbour scene, similar to the one featured in Jaws. Shaped by large boulders, the extensive prospect creates a welcoming and attractive setting to discover the sea, oozing an inescapable romance. The seafront and promenade possess similar qualities, I especially enjoyed the novel design of the paddling pool conveniently sited by a bustling restaurant. It’s a lovely scaled down model of the whole island including geographical contours and craggy outcrops. I stopped for some refreshment, amongst people happily lingered over cappuccino’s and fries before wandering up to the main shopping area with its winding streets and intricate narrow alleyways. The town was


busy so I relocated my bike and began my arduous climb north back towards Shanklin, and ultimately my canvas base. I would like to briefly mention the delights of the western side of the Island, which if you are feeling adventurous would make a nice easy day ride from Sandown. Yarmouth has a lovely Castle and quaint narrow streets and atmospheric alleyways but I definitely recommend a trip to The Needles which has grasped progress firmly by the horns and is now home to a selection of rides and jolly stalls. The highlight is the chairlift ride down to the shoreline with its stunning views of the geographical phenomenon and untouched natural beauty of the coastline My time in the magical place was a joy, its conveniently located just a short simple boat ride from the mainland across the Solent and benefits from a lovely temperate climate, warmed by the gulf stream. I discovered it was aptly named the ‘Garden Isle’ and is home to a stunning array of unusual plant life which flourish in the good weather and relish the fertile soil. With its many cycle routes and tourist sights, the Island is definitely one to discover. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.


72 www.cyclingworldmag.com


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