Ride to Ryde


Ready to ride
Ready to ride

On the 31st of March I rode from Bracknell to Ryde… a “ride to Ryde” 🙂

I was initially planning to have someone drive me to the Hover Port in Porthsmouth, catch the Hovercraft to Ryde and then spend a few days cycling around the Island, but I felt a bit hypocritical and suddenly “Ride to Ryde” started to appeal to me.

Had a look in Google Maps and it suggested a 65 miles or just under 100 Km route. I knew I could easily do that in a day and I was right.

I planned to leave early in the morning, but these plans never seem to work. I packed the panniers the day before, but a number of small things contribute to leaving only at around 11am.

According to Garmin it was a 7h and 53 min ride to Porthsmouth, but I did stop a few times for water and food.

Nice day for a ride.
Had just left home. Nice day for a ride.

Weather conditions were not ideal. It was sunny when I left, but in the middle of the afternoon the weather changed and, in addition to the cold wind, I had to face rain and even a 20 min period of hail storm on the bike, which wasn´t much fun. If conditions were better and I was in a hurry I could probably do it under 7 hours even with a few short stops.

I did not weigh the load on the bike, but I estimate it must have been about 20 Kg all together, between contents in both panniers, camping equipment and front bag.

The first part of the ride I was already very familiar with. Down to Crowthorne, then Sandhurst in the direction of Farnborough on the Blackwater Valley Path which is a ride I do recommend for everyone. You ride alongside the Blackwater river and the many lakes and ponds often with vegetation on both sides. Very suitable to families riding together with Children, however, you have to consider it is for the most part not a paved cycled way, so it can get muddy after rain.

Picture of the bicycle, half way there
Half way there

As I approached Farnham, the Blackwater river turns north ways and as I was riding south I had to leave the cycle path to urban roads, which initially are low traffic, but after Farham Google Maps guided me to the A325 which had an intense traffic of cars and heavy load vehicles. If you are taking this route, please be careful and make sure you have good mirrors in your bike. You will need to be aware of what’s coming behind you because the A325 is not a major A road, so there isn’t much space on its sides and some vehicles approach at very high speed at times. Definitely not a place to take your children for a bike ride.

Traffic remained intense and with no cycle paths until I got close to the A3, which I rode along for just a few miles, eventually crossing it and taking some rural lanes as per Google´s guidance.

As I entered the A3 I realized that I had forgotten to start the camera, so a bit to my disappointment I wouldn´t be able to produce a time lapsed video of the entire ride as I intended.

The video below is from that point all the way to the Porthsmouth´s Hover Port and it does give an idea how the ride was. By then the worst weather conditions had already happen.

One of the issues you get when you start to rely exclusively on technology for navigation is that when there is no phone signal, there is also no access to the internet if you have not cached the map on your phone.

As I was riding on those small lanes, letting tractors and a few vehicles pass (in places there was not even enough space for a car and a bicycle side by side), I lost the signal and realized that I did not know where I was and which path to take in the next crossing. Obviously, per Murphy´s law, I took the wrong path, but thankfully it wasn´t long before I realized I was going the wrong way and the signal eventually returned as I climbed up a little hill. If you zoom up the map above you can see the little “bump” about a mile after I crossed the A3.

Muddy Path
Feet are about to become muddy

To correct the mistake Google suggested taking some bridal paths that were quite muddy, which is not fun when you are pulling about 20Kg of stuff on the bike. Lucky me, only a few meters were really bad, the rest were dry and rideable.

By then I was starting to get a bit tired and at the point I quickly appear in the video I wasn´t really looking forward to climbing the hill in front of me. I initially pushed the bike on foot, but luckly, the wind, which was strong all day, helped on that climb for a change and I was able to complete most of it riding.

Cycleways around Portsmouth
Several Cycleways around Portsmouth

Once the hill was behind there was a long descent and at the end the surroundings started to turn very urban again. I found that the urban areas on the outskirts of Porthsmouth and Porthsmouth itself have quite a good number of cycle lanes with cycling permitted bus lanes as well.

Sunset
Sunset in Portsmouth

As I approach Porthsmouth in an area called Cosham, the sun was setting and there is a nice cycle lane alongside some of Porthsmouth´s water channels and the scenery was really nice, despite the strong and cold wind.

The rest of the ride towards the Hover Port practically crossed the centre of Porthsmouth, but most of the path is cycleable in safety, with only a few stretches on streets with high traffic. By then night was falling and thankfully I had just missed the Porthsmouth rush hour.

There is a Hovercraft service to Ryde every 15 or 30 minutes so I did not have to wait long to be able to board and had to remove all panniers and bags from the bike, but the bike was loaded safely and everything arrived in Ryde in good order.

Took me a while to find the B&B I was staying, even though it was very close, because by mistake I started Google Maps with the route planned for a car, so it took me a long way around the place and the street of the hotel is single way, contrary to my direction.

It was a challenging ride for me, because of the less than ideal weather conditions. Very windy, it rained for about 1/4 of the way and even had to endure a hail storm on the bike for about 30 min, but it was fun nevertheless.

This is not a ride I would recommend to the uninitiated.

Thanks for reading. Few more pictures…

Light at the end of the Tunnel
There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Hovercraft
Hovercraft

Transfer from Portsmouth to Ryde aboard the Hovercraft.

Next day >>

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Gore-Tex

After reading Aurelio Magalhaes book “Noruega by Bike” (Norway by bike) I decided I wanted to buy a Gore-Tex jacket. In the high latitudes, above the arctic circle, weather is apparently quite unstable and even in Summer it can get quite cold, quite quickly. Doesn’t sound like from different from in the UK.

In his booGore Phantom 2.0 softshell Gore-Tex jacketk he mentioned how glad he was to have bought a Gore-Tex jacket and got me curious as I have at times in winter I felt cold with my Lidl Cycling Jacket.

As per Wikipedia’s description, “Gore-Tex is able to repel liquid water while allowing water vapor to pass through, and is designed to be a lightweight, waterproof fabric for all-weather use”.

The fact that the fabric was able to prevent rain and wind to get in, but allow sweat to get out, intrigued me. I started to search for options and quickly realized they came with a price tag I was not accustomed to pay for my cycling clothing.

Nevertheless as soon as price came down a little I decided to go for a Gore
Phantom 2.0
softshell jacket. I added a few other options to my Amazon wish list, but one aspect of this jacket I liked was the fact that it had removable “Zip off” sleeves, so if the day starts cold, but turns out warm, you can quickly and easily take the sleeves off.

I really like this Jacket, but in my recent 3 days ride to and around the Isle of Wight I realized that this jacket alone was not enough to keep me warm. Yes, the jacket is water and wind proof, but there is no thermal insulation inside to prevent you from losing warmth (probably the reason why is called a “softshell”).

As I was riding I remembered what Antonio Olinto had written in his books (in Portuguese only) about what he called “the 3 layers technique” to keep warm on a bicycle. He prefers this technique over wearing a single piece of clothing, like a thick winter jacket, because of the versatility it offers in taking any of the layers off quickly and therefore having more control over your body’s temperature while riding a bicycle. The base layer could be something like a breathable long sleeve t-shirt, while the middle layer could be something like a wool sweater with the top exterior layer would have to be made of a material the prevents wind from taking away body warmth.

Despite the price tag the Gore Jacket works, but that alone is not an effective method to keep warm on a cold, windy and wet day bike ride

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