Over 180 mountain bikers took on the Isle of Wight’s legendary 7 Hills challenge on Sunday, organised and hosted by GP Sport and Wight Mountain.
Clear blue skies and unusually warm temperatures greeted riders as they assembled in Freshwater Bay, with bacon rolls and coffee being served from Freshwater Independent Lifeboat station.
Local participants were joined by riders from around the country who were attracted by the challenge provided by completing a full traverse of the Island.
After a safety briefing at the lifeboat station, the event got underway at 10:00, with riders going uphill almost immediately as they climbed up the Military Road out of the bay. On to Afton Down for the long climb up through the golf course, with stunning views as a backdrop.
Following the Tennyson Trail east, Afton Down was followed by climbs up Chessell Down, then Limerstone Down, after which, by special permission, the course took in an exhilarating new section of downhill trail at the IOW MTB Centre. After a brief stop at a checkpoint at Cheverton Farm came the climb up towards the mast at Chillerton which was followed by another long downhill section towards Chale.
The midway checkpoint was located at Gotten Manor, and was a chance for participants to rehydrate and refuel on homemade cakes, sandwiches, sweets and other assorted goodies. From Gotten Manor, a steep technical climb up St Catherine’s Down took riders to the Hoy Monument, before dropping back down to Whitwell where a section of road took them on to the bottom of Stenbury Down. From Stenbury, participants descended towards Ventnor, before the last steep climb up Wroxall Down towards Ventnor Radar Station. Finally ending with a long descent into Shanklin and on to the finish line at Sandown Airport.
A barbecue awaited the finishers at the Island Bistro, where trail stories were exchanged and aching legs were rested.
The feedback has once again been excellent and plans are already in place for a 2020 event.