It's the greatest place on earth, if you haven't cycled on the Isle of Wight then why not?

The Isle of Wight is a gem for cyclists, floating just off the South Coast of England. Easily accessible by ferry, but far enough away to put the rest of Britain out of your mind, if you haven’t cycled there before what are you waiting for?

The Lonely Planet named the Isle of Wight the best place in the world for cycling, and they clearly know what they’re talking about.

Known to natives and other residents as ‘the Island’ it offers road, MTB and cycle tracks for families, so there’s something for everyone.

Miles and miles of lanes with very few cars

Look at that lane. Photo: Matt Allsopp

Look at that lane. Photo: Matt Allsopp

If you’ve ever got stuck in a traffic jam on Putney High Street en route to Richmond Park or found yourself dreaming of reaching the Dales whilst stuck in the labyrinth of a one-way system in Leeds then you’ll definitely appreciate the lanes of the Isle of Wight.

I think even the sky's bluer down here. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

I think even the sky’s bluer down here. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

Rural lanes, stunning views and often miles without a passing car, this is a fantastic place to turn a pedal.

Disclaimer: there are cars down there, they might drive past you, Newport even gets queues at traffic lights. But choose the right route and you’ll soon get clear of them.

Cafés and pubs galore

Pedallers cafe sign_Elizabeth Elton-Walters

Pedallers is located on the popular Cowes to Sandown cycle track. Photo: Elizabeth Elton-Walters

Need to refuel? Fancy tying in a pub lunch? You need not look far to find somewhere to stop. Country pubs, old smuggler inns and a growing number of cycling cafes are dotted around the whole Island.

>>> Results are in: drink coffee, ride faster

From coffee stops on a training ride to family lunches after a leisurely ride along the Red Squirrel Trail, no cyclist goes hungry on the Isle of Wight.

There’s an ice cream van on hand. Whatever the weather

Is it raining? I'll have a whippy. Photos: Jack Elton-Walters

It’s raining, there’s an ice cream van, he can’t believe it, but he’ll have a whippy. Photos: Jack Elton-Walters

Out riding in torrential rain and strong winds yet the ice cream van man of Compton is still there to give you just what you need when you’re shivering: a 99 Flake. Unbelievable, I know.

>>> Cycling in the rain: How to survive it

Stunning coastal vistas

Find me a view like that in the Home Counties. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

Find me a view like that in the Home Counties. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

Miles and miles of coastal roads, all with incredible views of beautiful cliffs and beaches. A fresh sea breeze blowing in off the Solent or the English Channel can re-energise even the weariest of riders.

The locals are very friendly

This bloke was only too happy to have his photo taken. Photo: Elizabeth Elton-Walters

This bloke was only too happy to have his photo taken. Photo: Elizabeth Elton-Walters

Scarecrows and humans alike are welcoming (for the most part) of grockles, so don’t hesitate to ask for directions or give a jolly greeting when you pass a dog walker or farmer in the lanes.

There’s a sportive route that’s marked all year round

The signs can be followed all year round. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

These signs can be followed whenever you fancy it. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

The Isle of Wight Randonee takes place in May every year. The route used to alternate between a clockwise and an anti-clockwise route, but due to the event’s popularity it now only runs clockwise to avoid large queues at the Cowes-East Cowes Floating Bridge.

>>> 16 of the best British sportives to ride in 2016

The blue and white signs are permanent fixtures so people can follow the route, or just sections of it, whenever the fancy takes them.

There’s only so lost you can get: reach the coast, make a turn

You can never get too far from home, unless you've learnt to ride in the sea. Photo: Elizabeth Elton-Walters

You can never get too far from home, unless you’ve learnt to ride in the sea. Photo: Elizabeth Elton-Walters

Ever been out riding, not quite sure where you are but kept going in the hope you’ll start to recognise the area only to end up hours from home?

Such concerns need not worry you on the Isle of Wight (or any island to be fair)… you just get to the edge then change direction, you’ll surely end up where you started eventually.

>>> 15 best cycling apps for iPhone and Android

What’s more, there are no motorways so you don’t risk finding yourself on a junction of the M25 when trying to make your way home.

>>> Don’t go that way! When cyclists go AWOL

Besides, you can always find your way back onto the Randonee route and use the blue and white signs, mentioned above, to navigate.

You can encounter rare and exotic wildlife

Stop off at West Wight Alpacas and say hello to the residents. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

Stop off at West Wight Alpacas and say hello to the residents. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

The Isle of Wight is famed as being one of the few places left in Britain where you can still see red squirrels.

But they’re not the only animals you can spot on you touring ride: stop off at West Wight Alpacas for a cup of tea and you can meet the eponymous residents, or head into the South Wight and try and spot the herd of red deer that roam the fields.

The reasons for riding on the Isle of Wight are nearly innumerable, so let us know any we’ve missed… and if you haven’t been there yet, you’d best get booking the ferry.

Writer’s disclaimer: this isn’t an advert for the Isle of Wight tourist board, I’m from the Island and I love it. 

  • Adam

    And for the people who prefer off road, you have miles of bridlepaths to explore! I’m a keen rider on the island and am still finding new routes now. If you want a challenge look up the chalk-ridge-extreme off road route around 55 miles of mainly bridlepaths with some road links to them. It’s a very demanding but great route in varied terrain. It has also recently been sign posted with little round markers along the route.

  • Jack Elton-Walters

    Yes I’ve been told this; apparently it’s because the queue for the floating bridge was getting too big as people went straight there off the East Cowes car ferry. Thanks for the comment!

  • Stuart Affleck

    Randonnee now runs clockwise only….You’re not wrong about the rest though, it’s a great place to ride!

  • John Pepler

    So reminds me of a best friend and I cycling the circumference of the island back in ’82. We were 15. Started at 9am at Sandown. Stopped at Cowes for lunch. Freshwater swimming pool. Black Gang for tea. Back at Sandown at 9pm. Don’t recommend doing this with a racing saddle. It was getting painful by the time we did the Military Road stretch.

  • @grayvelo

    Agreed, I often pop over from here in Hampshire and have a route round. Trying to stop off for lunch at a different spot each time. The views on a sunny day as you cycle into Yarmouth are brilliant. Awesome island