Look what Santa's brought the Isle of Wight!
OK, I admit that as presents go this doesn't look too exciting, but this is the smoothest stretch of tarmac on the whole of the Isle of Wight and it has just been laid at the Sandown end of NCN23, the Newport to Cowes cycle track.
The path has been closed for several weeks now (it doesn't officially reopen until Friday) so that major remedial works could be carried out. I don't know how much it cost but I understand that it has been funded by other sources than the Isle of Wight council so island council tax payers have nothing to complain about. The previous surface was a lumpy hardcore that was most unpleasant to ride on a road bike. The river Yar runs alongside and frequent flooding worsened the already poor surface. Local cyclists knew to avoid the path after heavy rain as it was impossible to tell what was path and what was river! Wayfarer legend tells of a pair who were lucky to avoid drowning when returning that way slightly the worse for drink after the Xmas dinner!
I've previously posted this picture from the Daily Telegraph in a comment but, in case you missed it its here again to illustrate the extent of the problem.
The surface of the track has now been raised and a new culvert constructed to divert the water away.
I rode along this new stretch on my way to work on Tuesday and it was an absolute delight. Normally I would have taken a narrow lane that is currently covered in mud and hedge clippings. Its pleasant enough in summer but it's steep hills , blind bends and lousy surface make it no fun at all in the dark. The cycle path provided a beautiful smooth, flat ride. The Newport to Sandown cycle track is now excellent at both ends. I suppose it would be just being greedy to hope for something being done about the mud bath in the middle!