The Lonely Planet has recently named the Isle of Wight as one of the 10 best cycling destinations in the world. The diverse terrain offers a great variety of road cycling, touring and mountain biking. There are cycling routes, paths and trails for all levels of rider, from family leisure cycling to downhill mountain biking, dirt jumping to road racing.
Click on the links below to open a PDF with a map and details of the cycle route
Route 1 - Yarmouth (9 miles)
An easy route, mainly on the road.
Route 2 - Yarmouth (12 miles)
Longer, but still fairly easy cycling on both cycleway and country lanes.
Route 3 - Cowes (9 miles)
An easy, mostly flat ride (after the one hill at East Cowes).
Route 4 - Cowes (16 miles)
This route incorporates the perfectly flat Medina Cycleway between Cowes and Newport which is perfect for going on a short 'there and back' ride. Route 4 also incorporates a bit of offroad cycling in the majestic woodland of Parkhurst Forest.
Route 5 - Brighstone (10 miles)
An excellent introduction to mountain biking, this route is easy to follow and gives wonderful views of the West Wight. Look out for the Mottistone Longstone which has been on Mottistone Down since the Bronze Age.
Route 6 - Brighstone (12 miles)
A figure of eight ride from Brighstone along gently undulating country lanes to Chale.
Route 7 - Ryde (15 miles)
Explore the landscape of hedgerows and woods that lie behind Ryde. Follow the cycleways and stop off at Brading for refreshments.
Route 8 - Ryde (15 miles)
An easy, longer ride combining coast and countryside around the eastern side of the Island.
Route 9 - Newport (10 miles)
The first part of this ride is along the Sandown cycleway - go there and back to Merstone for an easy ride. Based off road, on cycleways and along quiet country lanes, this route is great for beginners.
Route 10 - Carisbrooke (12 miles)
A fairly easy ride on country lanes through the rural heart of the Island. Pay a visit to medieval Carisbrooke Castle which is en route!
Route 11 - Sandown (5 miles)
A short, fairly easy ride taking you through the wildlife-rich wetland of Eastern Yar. This route starts at Dinosaur Isle - why not stop off there and meet some of the Island's prehistoric residents?
Route 12 - Shanklin (12 miles)
There are two big hills on this route, but they're well worth it for the interest and variety on the ride! Ride along chocolate box country lanes and cycleways which take you along the Island's southern coast.
With over 200 miles of cycle routes within an area of just 147 square miles, the Isle of Wight has long been a magnet for cycling enthusiasts. There is mile upon mile of unrivaled tracks to choose from to suit everyone, from quiet country lanes to challenging off-road bridleways. So no matter your level, whether its adrenalin fueled speed racing or a leisurely ride with the family, the Island has it all to offer and is host to a number of big cycling events, including the annual week-long Cycling Festival.
On the Isle of Wight, one entire family of brothers are known for their collective passion for cycling. The Morgan clan are bike mad and take pride in their super flashy carbon fibre two wheelers. The past few years we have seen the rise of the uber-techno, bobby-dazzler road bike. The market for these bikes has expanded rapidly, partly in thanks to the success of the British cycling stars at the Beijing Olympics and then the London 2012 Olympics.
Islander Dan Morgan, 33, recalls those childhood days with passion. “Growing up in West Wight with my four brothers, we were out on our BMX bikes all the time doing jumps in chalk pits or generally just showing off,” he says. But like many teenagers, Dan became sidetracked by ‘life’, and only rediscovered his love of cycling two years ago. “Now I don’t think twice about competing in the 100km round the Island Randonee race or I’ll just jump on the bike spontaneously and easily clock up 100 miles a week. For me the ultimate joy is the challenge I set myself to do bigger, better and faster cycling,” asserts Dan.
Around the country you’ll see a girth of Mamils gathering to race a “Sportive”, a form of amateur competing that has taken the British cycling world by storm. The Wight Wiggle Sportive is just one of the races sampled by the Morgan brothers. It helps to keep a stash of bikes. Dave Morgan, 31, is often asked why he owns nine bikes. His answer is always the same. “It’s like owning a different pair of shoes for different needs – beach, walking, work, weddings. Each bike I own I use for different reasons,” he explains. With a bike collection worth over £10,000 it’s not surprising then that Dave is competent in all disciplines of cycling from Downhill and Trials riding to BMX racing.
No Mamil’s life is complete without the spiritual journey on a flashy superbike, so where’s the midlife crisis in that? Well, the expense of it might warrant a few sharp intakes of breath. The must-have bike of 2012 was the Pinarello Dogma, the bike used by the British Team Sky in the Tour de France. Ladies look away now. It’s yours for a snip at £7,000 and enough to make grown men salivate with excitement.
One of the Morgan clan, Adam 29, marvels not just at his newly purchased road bike but any other bobby dazzlers he passes. “I often find myself admiring other people’s bikes from afar in an unspoken kind of way,” he confides. He should know. “After much research I managed to get my £2,000 bike for a more sound £1200 – and I love it,” he says. “Cycling will always be a part of my life, especially living on the Isle of Wight with its miles of brilliant routes. It’s such an easy hobby to maintain and having competitive brothers eggs me on to train harder.”
For many hardened cyclists, the freedom the sport offers is a heady mix of enjoyment and skill. Morgan brother, Ben, 29, says the Isle of Wight is perfect cycling terrain and heralds the sport as his number one hobby. “The Island is such a magnet for cyclists as it has hundreds of miles of tracks on and off road. I love the landscape and beyond the physical benefits, it’s hugely mentally rewarding too,” he explains. “I can see myself in my old age pummelling the ground on two wheels.”
Research conducted by the retail analyst Mintel suggests there has been a surge in the number of middle-aged men choosing to get on two wheels. But given the number of men aged 35-44 who are buying fancy-pants road racing machines, the core group starts much younger. The youngest Morgan lad, Jason aged 22, now competes in cycling races nationally and internationally. He’s the proud owner of about eight bikes and spends about five weeks, a year training in the Alps. “I know so many people who compete in these races there’s much camaraderie,” explains Jason. Downhill racing is his thing. “My favourite race is The Megavalanche, near the Swiss border which starts at 3,300m and 32km later finishes 750m above sea level,” he continues. However, with the thrill seekers, injuries are an unavoidable part of the package. “We’re talking torn ligaments, fractures and breakages. But the older I get the wiser and more cautious I become,” Jason says reassuringly.
What is clear is that tapping into this pedal power cuts across any age and gender divide. Women too are triumphing in their collective two-wheeled might. Even Jason’s girlfriend joined him cycling in the Alps last summer. “I bought her a bike and the female version of my helmet, so we have His and Hers!” he enthuses. Dave Morgan even hand-built his girlfriend a super cycle from scratch. The Go faster stripes come later.
Hiring bikes on the Isle of Wight is easy. You can organise cycle hire from a choice of local companies who have a wealth of experience. Most have modern mountain, hybrid or road bikes available to hire and will include locks, pumps, puncture repairs kits and maps. Some hire companies also offer child seats, tag-a-longs, trailers and more. Here are a selection of the cycle hire companies on the Isle of Wight:
- Wight Cycle Hire, Yarmouth 01983 761800
Road cycling and touring is excellent on the Island with over 200 miles of routes to suit everyone. There are quiet country lanes that meander through areas of outstanding natural beauty, and some excellent coastal paths. One of the newest purpose built paths is Route 23, part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network, which runs from West Cowes through to Sandown on the South-Easterley edge of the Island. September sees the Isle of Wight Cycling festival take over the Island with events to suit cyclists of all abilities.
The West of the Island is particularly good for mountain biking, with its undulating countryside and steep downhill sections which will keep even the most hardened bikers entertained. In May the Island plays host to the Isle of Wight Randonnee, and in September you can participate in the Isle of Wight Cycling Festival which attracts fans from all over the country.
See our events section for further information on cycling festivals