The Annual Isle of Wight Weekend

The annual Isle of Wight weekend, or rather the annual cycle across the island is held on the first public holiday in May. A weekend of cycling, camping, walking, good food and of course drinking! It all started off about 10 years ago and has bigger and bigger each year! It’s attended by friends and friends of friends, everybody is welcome, and these days there’s usually a good crowd of at least 50 people of all ages and abilities.

The weekend starts off with everybody meeting at the ferry terminal in Portsmouth on Saturday morning, getting there by whatever means possible, most people arrive by train. We then all catch the 10.30 ferry, which takes us across to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight. The crossing lasts around 40 minutes, allowing everybody time to catch up with one and another.

The Ride

Once on the island, the cycling begins! And starts off with a little hill to get out of the ferry terminal. That sets the tone for the rest of the island, it’s not a flat ride! Thankfully for everybody taking part, they don’t have to carry any gear, apart from those who want to, i.e. me! Dave, who organises the trip, also arranges a truck to take everybody’s camping equipment.

People on bikes
Coming off the ferry at the start of the trip

Out of the ferry terminal, it’s a short ride along the main road, which because there is so many of us isn’t a problem. Off the main road, the journey follows back roads and quiet country lanes. It’s only 10 miles, to our midway point, the Chequers Inn at Rookley, where everybody stops for lunch and a few beers!

Lunch break over, which sometimes last for a bit longer than maybe it should, we set off on the final part of the ride. Once again sticking to back roads. It’s only another 10 miles to go, this is where we tend to lose one or two people, maybe it has something to do with stopping at a pub for lunch!? But everybody makes it to our final destination at Grange Farm Brighstone in the end! A delightful site with excellent facilities, perched on the cliff at Brighstone.

The Weekend

Everybody has their own tent, or rather each family, couple or individual, all cooking is done as a group effort though, with Dave, taking charge. The beer is free-flowing, and the evening tends to end with a few of us going to the “the bikers do.” A music festival held by bikers in an old run-down holiday camp, one field away from us. Which if you’ve never been before is an extraordinary event and not what you might expect!

People
Dave sorting the cooking out
The First Ever Trip To The Bikers

The trip to the “bikers do” started off on one of the early IOW trips, when there was only about 20 of us, and soon became a yearly event! In fact, the IOW trip is now sold on a trip to the bikers. We’d had supper and were sitting around drinking and talking! All evening there was the sound of music coming from this old 1950’s holiday camp, a few fields away. We’d noticed it earlier on in the day and had also seen a lot of motorbikes there.

In the end, curiosity got the better of us, or maybe it was the alcohol. Still, whatever it was, myself, Dave, his dad John, Fiona and Emma all set off across the fields to investigate! It was a perilous journey, in the pitch black of night, made all the worse through booze! We headed directly towards the music, falling over several times, in the pot-holed fields! We jumped a couple of fences, sneaked around the back of tents, and made our way past some old holiday chalets, which were hanging precariously on the edge of the cliff!

Then there, in the centre of this former holiday camp was a big marquee! Where all the music was coming from. Giggling away we egged each other on and made our way towards the marquee entrance. Nobody was on the door, all there was, were, some hairy, leather-clad bikers, who were just standing there urinating, with no discretion at all! So we just walked straight in!

An Eye Opener

Inside was a surprise! Instead of the long-haired leather-clad bikers that you’d probably expect, and indeed we had just seen outside. We were greeted by something that I can only describe as something from the Rocky Horror show, with everybody in fancy dress!

There was a band playing on stage, they weren’t playing heavy rock as might have expected! Instead, they played old school disco and 70’s glam rock! The lead singer while singing would change the lyrics of the songs and just kept telling everybody to f*** off!

We were worried about standing out, which we did, but not in the way we expected! We thought everybody would be dressed in leathers. Some were, but it was more like the sort of leather clothes you get in an adults speciality shop! But in the end, nobody took any notice of us, and everybody was so friendly! We even managed to get free drinks all night, or rather, I should say that Fiona managed to blag them!

As the years went on, we would sell the IOW trip to new people telling them about the bikers do. It became a tradition that we would gate crash the bikers do, it even got to the stage where the bikers knew us and would expect us to gate crash!

Sunday

Sunday is a relaxing day with a late start for most, especially for those who attended the “bikers do” the previous night! After breakfast, we go for a walk along the beach, then up to the Sun Inn at Hulverstone for lunch, a distance of approximately 3 miles.

People on beach
Walking along the beach

After lunch, we continue on our walk up through Brighstone forest and Westover Down before dropping down into Brighstone. It’s then a short walk back to camp.

Sunday evening is spent sitting around drinking and talking, with one or two people returning to the “bikers do” most people stay at camp.

Monday

Monday morning, it’s time to pack up and head back to Fishbourne and the ferry back to Portsmouth.

The ride back to the ferry can be a little harder for some as there’s no proper break until we’re nearly back at the terminal. Most people are keen to get back anyway, as it’s a work the following day. We stop at The Sloop Inn, Wootton Bridge, for our final break, which is about a mile from the ferry. From there, people drift off in their own time, depending on how quickly they need to be home.

People on benches
Last stop of the weekend at the Sloop Inn

A lovely weekend, with as I said at the beginning a wide range of people of all ages and abilities. The whole weekend has no schedule or rules, it’s purely a weekend of friends getting together and drinking one or two beers!

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