Cyclocross has traditionally been an autumn pursuit, but increasingly riders are seeing the benefits of having a bike that can dart off the tarmac and down the bridleway less travelled, at whatever the time of year. With the Isle of Wight laced with beautiful backroads and bridleways, it is the perfect place to explore on a cyclocross bike.
Our resident cycling expert, Tim Wiggins, has been riding a cyclocross (a.k.a. ‘Gravel’) bike on the Island for over five years now, and it has fast become his bicycle of choice; it provides the versatility to explore almost any path or road you can find on the Isle of Wight.
There are many different options for cyclocross rides on the Isle of Wight, but below are two routes that tick a lot of the boxes in terms of challenging terrain, stunning views, and great mixed surface riding – thanks to Tim.
The Wight Chalk Ridge Extreme
The Wight Chalk Ridge Extreme was designed by resident cyclists Bicycle Island, and is 53 miles in length, with almost 5,000 feet of climbing.
The route starts and finishes at Yarmouth, so it is the ideal place for those catching the ferry over from Lymington.
From the starting point you head out onto the Tennyson Trail, through beautiful Brighstone Forest, and then into the hills around Ventnor and the East Wight.
The strongest riders can look to take on the challenge in a single day, but most are best to look at taking on the ride over two days, and perhaps looking to stay in Ventnor, Shanklin or Sandown for an overnight stop.
This route will give you challenge, views, and incredible riding aplenty. Check out my previous Wightlink Blog on ‘Cycling Cafes of the Isle of Wight’ for some advice on pitstops!
The Wight Gravel Dash
This second route starts and finishes in Ryde and takes in the cycle paths and bridleways of the East Wight; many of which have been resurfaced to make them perfect for a cyclocross or Gravel bike.
From the start point on Ryde Esplanade the route heads through to Quarr Abbey and past the Wightlink Fishbourne terminal. At Wootton, you join the cycle path through to Newport, with some great views of the River Medina from the riverside path.
Once in the main Island town of Newport you join the Newport-Sandown cycle route, and follow this through to Merstone, where you do a short diversion through to Godshill and then through to Wroxall – again linking up with one of the dismantled railway lines here that takes you through to Shanklin.
From Shanklin you head through to Newchurch, then up and over the Downs back to Ryde.
This is a great flatter route, and at 29 miles it is easy for most to ride within a day, with some great cafe stops along the way.
These routes provide diverse and interesting options for gravel and cyclocross exploration on the beautiful Isle of Wight. Both of them are easily accessed from the mainland using Wightlink’s ferry links, and they would make perfect day trips or weekend getaways. Enjoy!
Wightlink is your link to Cyclocross on the Isle of Wight. Book your ferry today and bring your bike for FREE when travelling on foot.
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