Isle of Wight Bivi - 9/9
Seems to be a running theme in recent months, get to the end of the month and realise I haven't ticked off the bivi yet!
Same again for September....with three or so different ideas in my head I settled on my first bivi over seas (well the Solent) on the island and Dan (sit across the office from him) suggested I retraced his gpx track from the ride with sean_iow, JohnClimber, Farawayvisions & Jim the previous weekend.
Setting off from home later than planned....where was the bivi bag? When did I last use it? Will I need a stove? Is it going to rain etc....I got to the Red Funnel in Southampton a couple of minutes to late to catch the 5pm, so sat down with a coffee and cake waiting for the 6pm . The hour crossing allowed contemplation of route and where I was going to stop over night, originally my plan was to get down towards Yarmouth/Freshwater and pitch up down there, but being later and wanting to do the rumoured Brighstone Forest singletrack in the light, I thought I'd head up there and find a spot.
After disembarking from the ferry I was quickly reminded that the Island is a might bit hiller than the New Forest and chosing the singlespeed mean I was bound to end up pushing somewhere!
After a bit of road, dropped down onto the Medina river path up to Newport and the last chance to find some food (the stove and related food got left at home). A quick spin round the town found a chippy, so after filling up on fish cake, battered sausage and chips, I pedalled out of town in search of what I now know is called Down Lane. It's probably been 10 years since I last headed out this way and I'd forgotten how much of a climb is was to the bottom of the lane which quickly had me walking as the rear wheel span out on the greasy chalky surface.
After a bit of mixed pedalling and pushing, the track flatten out through the fields up to the forest, with the lights ahead turning out to be three mountain bikers heading back down. From the bemused 'hello's, I guess they were a bit surprised to see someone heading out at that time of night?
Quite a few puddles later it was on the forest track toward the top of the Island, some forestry works had turned the track into a bit of a sloppy mess. Line choices weren't always possible and a couple of stalls nearly happened, but soon I was at the main track that Dan said to pass and 'look for the gap in the undergrowth', the start of the single track. I headed in until I though I was far enough away from the main track and found some convenient trees to string the tarp between.
After plugging in to a Podcast, I don't think it was long before I was asleep. Only to be woken at around 3am by the sound of a couple of MX bikes skirting round the woods. It was at this time I realised that my sleep mat did in fact have a hole in it and last time out wasn't me not having done the valve up properly, as I was virtually sleeping on the floor. Anyway I couldn't be bothered to blow it up any more, so rolled over to get some more sleep.
After getting woken up by rain and the gentle roar of the wind in the tree tops, I packed the kit up and gobbled a couple of breakfast biscuits listening to a Stag bark in the distance. So I was soon rolling down the lovely singletrack at bit blurry eyed and tentative over the under tyre grip....must go back on a dry day.
I missed turn halfway up a greasy climb lead to an over grown bit of trail, if I wasn't already awake the brambles and nettles made sure I was! Some lovely wide singletrack downhills, a few lanes and lovely buildings (who lives here, what do they do.....?) later and I found the old railway line between Yarmouth and Freshwater. The cafe in the old station building was closed, but it didn't matter too much as I wasn't feeling hungry, though a coffee would have been nice.
Decided it wasn't a day for a trip up onto Tennyson Down and towards the Needles and the forecast wasn't that great for the day, so I headed back up the spin of the island towards my bivi spot. The breeze was up, which wasn't a problem as I was travelling with it but the greasy chalk turned the climb in to push going up past the golf course, where there seemed to a number of people searching in bushes for lost balls and though it was a distance of it looks like there were a few surfers out in Compton Bay.
A gimpy descent (I don't like this greasy chalk c*rp), push up past the cow gate, a fun descent dodging the dog walkers and then the climb up to the top of the Island where I started my day. From there is was in to uncharted (for me) territory, the ground become more loamy/clay based, less sketchy and the hills more forgiving. A mixture of tracks, field edges and lanes found me in Godshill and a bit peckish. Being covered in a fine layer mud and it still being mid-morning I didn't feel sitting in a cafe was the right thing to do, so a route around in the sparsely stocked village store resulted in a Gala Pie, Smarties and Appletise snack.
Quickly after Godshill, it was onto Red Squirrel trail (none were seen
) and then the old railway line back to Newport. It was nice seeing the trail being used, runners in their headphone bubbles, darting dogs, uncontrollable kids and the two boys sat chomping on sandwiches after pedalling their BMX's from somewhere. Once at Newport it was a case of retracing my wheels back down the Medina to Cowes and the ferry, which I got to 10 minutes before departure, perfect.
The other passengers gave me a bit of a wide berth as I collected a coffee and snack from the onboard cafe, I guess they didn't want to get muddy too? So I sat up on the open air deck for the trip back on the wipe clean seats. Riding back home though Southampton got some funny looks from those out for the national sport of Shopping.....who had more fun though??
102km of riding, 2 ferrys, a Bivi, 9 from 9 done.