So here I am at stupid o’clock in the morning – couldn’t sleep in following my return from the Isle of Wight Mini Tour yesterday. There are all sort of thoughts and memories buzzing around in my head so, in true Julie Andrews – Sound of Music style (never saw the film and that’s the truth), “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”.

I passed my test (IAM, or the big “I, am” as my wife calls it) more years ago than I like to admit, and spent many years on the committee of MAM (Middlesex AM) as Social Sec and Rides Co-ordinator. MAM and I parted company when I moved to Bracknell.  I joined TVAM and the local RoSPA group and, following an old cliché “You get out what you put in”, I was keen to get to know people in TVAM and make a contribution. I also do the odd RoSPA ride sometimes.

It started when a certain antipodean young lady, and arguable the most conscientious Back Marker I’ve ever had the pleasure to ride with, came back from a TVAM day trip to the Isle of Wight last year. “We have to do that again and maybe have an overnight”, and that was it, with the “monkey on back” I decided to Go For It.


I managed to get 9 single rooms dirt cheap on, advertised the idea on WOBMOB and all of sudden, and almost overnight, I had 20 names on the database. I received an email from Chris Brownlee warning me not to get into the realms of “Package Tour” so took his advice and contacted the TVAM Travel Agent ( I then contacted the hotel and the manager was more than helpful. He told me to cancel with, gave me a better room rate and offered to get discount off the ferry crossing (£15 saving per ticket). I avoided the Package Tour by asking everyone to pay their own ferry ticket and hotel room. We ended up with a total of 19 on the trip.

After several sessions on the PC, pinching roads from a number of TVAM ride-outs, the breakfast stop from a RoSPA ride, and Google searching for interesting stuff, I cobbled together a cunning plan. Spreadsheet time (I’m famous for them with the Chilton Motorcycle Club – another part of my biking history not mentioned in the boring paragraph).

Riders, bikes, emails and ICE contacts captured, rooms allocated and breakfast/dinner orders accounted for, (Red and Green Yes/No conditional formatted check columns – I mention this for the spreadsheet nerds) I proceeded to inundate the unfortunate attendees with emails, email revisions, requests for menu selections, MRA invitations, Basecamp .gpx files and, and – Stop! Too much!

We had a great mix of NObs, LObs, TObs, Full Members, Associates and three who hadn’t been on a group ride before and one old friend and member of the Solent Group. It all went well.

The light rain and 2,000 cyclists on Sunday didn’t spoil anything. I could have done without the double decker bus on one of the nicest progressive roads across the island. I could have overtaken on a couple of occasions but you have to consider the 18 others behind and the likelihood of a “cluster-f…” (as my son used to say) at the next junction whilst waiting for the rest of the group to catch up.

We had a couple of interesting moments, nothing dangerous, but I can’t go into detail – What happens on tour, stays on tour.

I’ve always maintained that motorcycling is a solitary experience (unless you are grouped-up with state-of-the-art intercoms). You have to concentrate on what you’re doing and don’t have time for much else. It’s stopping that makes it all come to life.

120 colourful cyclists riding off the Chain Bridge at East Cowes was a sight to behold. I was a little bit disappointed they didn’t knock each other over and fall into a big heap; it came close.

The chat on the petrol station forecourt when you realise that there are two others in the group that have worked in the same environment as you for years and know many of your old work colleagues (it’s like LinkedIn for real). 

Then the Australian Scotsman who has similar tastes in music and whose wife attends the same art class as your wife.

The comment from a NOb “that wasn’t an A ride, that was MotoGP,” as we stopped with big smiles after the TT – Military Road circuit. Riding is only 50% at most. I was very happy with the outcome and asked everyone to send me their memory in a few words.

I won’t bore you with all the comments but here’s a few to make you smile:

By the time we got to a fab and much-wanted full breakfast the group was running really smoothly.

Why not call this 3Ws?
Wight, tour of the island
Wisteria, we saw a lot of this on our way round
Wild garlic, we could smell this as we rode through the IoW countryside

Around the proposed TT course three times which got better each time we did the circuit, fantastic!!

So let’s talk about fuel! Most bikes are OK with E10 but we had to find another station that had E5 for the 750 Honda, but one BMW owner thought his bike would run smoother on diesel. It was sorted and he made it to the ferry on time.

A great ride back home which included a tour of Basingstoke and the Town Centre (sorry, my mistake) and all the roundabouts. Thanks, Neil, for holding us all together and for our Back Marker, Allie, who rounded us all up.

Planning, preparation and execution couldn’t be faulted!

It was a great fun ride and a great opportunity for me to meet more TVAM riders.

Had a few learning moments.

Great routes, great pit stops and great company! 

We had an absolute blast and are now sat enjoying a beer digesting just how much we enjoyed it.

Many thanks for letting me join the trip. I enjoyed it immensely.

Your organisation made everything very easy, the whole group commented how good it had been (I’ll take that!)

There aren’t enough words to describe the absolute and utter delight H is – and the IoW was just as charming, views are just as stunning, the roads are truly sweet.

My lessons learnt? – how to ride a motorcycle… by riding a motorcycle – LOTS!!

Here’s to the next time. Get your names down early I think there’s another monkey about to jump on my back. Isle of Wight, Minehead, Sidmouth, Bude – not sure which but watch this space.

Neil Woodcock

First published in Slipstream July 2022