Familiar Roads

Path through the woods

There’s no doubt that the Isle of Wight is great for a cycling holiday, but it is also pretty fantastic for the locals. It’s no secret I’m a fan of Island roads. Knowing its network of little lanes offers endless possibilities mid-ride, and I love to make it up as I pedal. On Sunday we headed out for a coffee and ended up riding 60k, spurred on by the last of the summer sun, and the excuse for another coffee (and cake) stop.

It’s a pleasure to know roads well enough to plan a route in your head and travel without a map. I’m a little in love with the old road names, and wonder at their origins. Our Sunday route took us up Kite Hill, through Firestone Copse, down Beacon Alley, across Bleak Down, past Thorness Bay, and over Egypt Hill. I’m not practical enough to remember useful road names, (I pity the driver who asks me for directions in a town) but these old road names are so evocative, they’re forever in my head.

Do you have a favourite road, or a favourite route?  Mine always has to involve a good coffee stop!

The road home

I’ve just returned from a week of work Up Mainland, commuting daily by motorway.  What a difference from Island roads!  Such a crush of moving metal, with an unfamiliar view of miles of straight tarmac ahead.  A thirty mile journey is no more that a quick zip down the road, and the soundtrack is more Beastie Boys than Beasts of Seasons.  The ease and speed were a treat, but I was glad to return to Island roads.  Their winding eccentricities and routes formed over centuries of natural pathfinding offer daily variety.  The light through the morning mist is never the same twice, and the many lanes make a different journey home possible every day of the week.  These small, slow roads have changed my perspective of distance, making 10 miles a sizeable journey, and a trip to another town a serious proposition.  Some bemoan the inefficiency of it, the ‘Island Mentality.’  But this is part of the charm of the place.  It slows you down, makes you enjoy the journey, and reminds you that the car is only one of its many users.  Tomorrow I’ll be off enjoying it on two wheels.