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Leg 4: Bembridge to Wroxall

17 km (11 miles), about 40 minutes

After a rural start and a shockingly steep but very brief climb, this passes through the popular coastal resorts with their inevitable traffic, but is still full of interest.

Climb the short hill up into Bembridge village, and follow the main road to the right, through the shops, and straight on towards the windmill. A sharp left hand bend by the windmill then takes you to a mini-roundabout, where you turn right towards Brading and Sandown. Breeze down through a dark wood, the good surface allowing speed, but take care to brake as the road turns right and drops further. A short rise brings you to Bembridge Airport, where aircraft often overfly the road.

Wind around the airport, then climb gradually before a sharp left hand bend drops you down a dip with a very brief but fearsome ascent straight ahead, and a sharp right hand bend at its top. This is the maximum uphill gradient on the route, attaining 13.5% for a few painful cranks. As you regain your breath and your legs stop aching, work your way steadily with the road along a leftward curve, watching for vehicles joining the road from Culver Down on the left, at a largely blind junction.

Sweeping right, the road goes up another short steep rise to a mini-roundabout, where you turn left towards Yaverland. This narrow lane brings you down onto the sea front, where there are toilets and a succession of ice cream stalls and cafes.

Ride along Sandown sea front into the town, turning left at the mini-roundabout where the road heads into the shopping area. When Sandown is busy in the summer, this requires great care, with buses, cars, coaches, and pedestrians all oblivious to bikes. At Sandown you have completed 83.9 km, 52.1 miles, since departure.

Sandown gets very crowded on sunny days in the summer.

Staying with the main road through Sandown, it rises to reach a set of traffic lights opposite a leisure centre, where you should keep to the left and turn left onto the A3055, towards Lake and Shanklin. A descent takes you under a railway bridge to a complicated junction at which drivers are often stationary or move unpredictably, then round a sharp left-hand bend to a pedestrian crossing where there are usually queues: take that bend with great care even if the road should be clear. Stay in the left hand lane to cross straight over the traffic lights, then climb easily over the railway bridge and into the outskirts of Shanklin.

A small climb takes you to the top of Arthurs Hill, but with traffic lights waiting at the foot, so you cannot enjoy a last burst of speed before negotiating the town centre. Stay on the main road, and climb past the main shopping street, up to a set of traffic lights, where you should turn right onto the A3020 towards Newport, unless you have elected to finish with the fierce hills through Old Shanklin Village to Ventnor.

Keep to the main road along tree-lined Victoria Avenue, first descending before climbing steadily out of the town and past many of its hotels, a total of 60 m of ascent over 2 km, and reaching a gradient of 8%. Take the S bend over the crest carefully, and onto appalling surfaces through rolling countryside to the mini-roundabout at Whiteley Bank. There turn left to return to Wroxall along the B3327. Shortly after you enter the village is a ╩╗traffic calming╩╝ pinch point, at which there is provision for cyclists to use their own passage on its left. Look out for broken glass here: if in doubt you may have to give way to oncoming vehicles and use the main route through. A steep descent changes to the last hill, at the top of which is St John’s Church and your starting point, which you left 93.6 km, 58.2 miles, ago.

You should reach Wroxall well before the sun sinks over the Needles.

Variation: you can complete the coastal circumnavigation along the spectacular road through Luccombe, Bonchurch, and Ventnor, to regain Wroxall from the south. Details are given in the Appendix.

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