Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the hardest night ride in the south of England is returning for its fourth edition. Last year,I came up with a Cunning Plan for both boosting numbers and making a halfway stop possible. Unfortunately, after an initial positive response from contacts over the water, everything went quiet. Well, silent actually.....nonetheless, if enough people are interested it might be worth making enquiries... So: If you'd like to do lots and lots of climbing on an island in the Solent with no convenient bail-out points, but would only come if there's an actual halfway stop, please express an interest. And if you'd like to come even if the halfway stop is The car park at the summit of Blackgang, not the roundabout at the bottom, please express an interest. As I'm sure you'd prefer an actual halfway stop too. Let me be quite clear: Without enough bods, there's no point me even looking for a halfway stop, let alone actually getting a positive answer from somewhere suitable. So if you're interested, even if you'd bail if there was no formal halfway stop, please, with bells on, let me know. Right, with that over with, what's this ride like then? What's the plan? As per the previous editions, this will not be a formal FNRttC (at least not without that halfway stop), but run very much in the same vein. Route will be thoroughly recced day and night, waymarkers if needed, TECs, no-one left behind, and so on. Rather than write a whole new blurb, I'll (mostly) quote that from previous years: Meet at the Portsmouth car ferry terminal (a short ride from Portsmouth Harbour station) in time for the 2359 sailing- you'll need to be checked in by 2344 at the absolute latest. Anyone going via an alternative route or an earlier sailing will need to be at the Fishbourne terminal to meet us at quarter to one or so. After the safety talk and letting The Traffic get on its way (there will be more vehicles on the ferry than we'll see the rest of the night ), we will head south and then east, picking up the IOW Randonnee route for a while, thus avoiding the exciting nightlife of Ryde. Round to The Only Shop That Is Open On The Entire Island, Ryde Tesco, for all your retail and rest stop needs. Then on clockwise to Bembridge, Sandown, and Shanklin. The useless quango that is Wight Roads has still not sorted Undercliffe Drive out, sadly. Might get done by the time of the ride, allegedly....Last year we got to ride on some brand-new tarmac so they do get something done. There is a further rest stop opportunity at Bonchurch (community toilets, open all night) before our half-way stop. Blackgang picnic site, al-fresco, but plenty of benches, and fantastic views. Unlike the roundabout at the bottom.... After that, the coastal road all the way to Freshwater- even if I say so myself, an absolutely glorious stretch, and then to the Needles and Alum Bay. View from the Needles is absolutely glorious, and you don't get it on the Randonnee. Then back north Yarmouth and on to Ryde, probably via Cowes and the chain ferry to East Cowes (the alternative via Newport is rather more prosaic and much busier). Chain ferry fare is £1. Breakfast in Ryde (Wetherspoons were very helpful and did an excellent job for previous rides, many other options available). Return to the mainland either from Ryde (catamaran to Portsmouth Harbour station- ideal for trains but you'll need to buy two singles, and cat tickets are more expensive as well) or four miles back west to Fishbourne (others may prefer to leave us at Yarmouth or East Cowes if it suits better). Please be aware that this is considerably lumpier than any of the usual FNR routes, something in the region of 4,500 to 5,000ft of climbing. In comparison, London to Brighton, and then back to Pompey, is less than 3500ft, in 50% more miles. This is not a ride for those who are hill-phobic. There are flat sections of road, some visible without the aid of an electron microscope, but it never really settles over the 65 miles or so. Nothing really nasty, there are no Ditchling Beacons (those who did the first year, Cowleaze Hill will not be on the route this time....) but it's a lot of ups and downs. Compact or triple chainsets and sensible cassettes strongly recommended. I have seen people doing the Randonnee on fixed. Suffice to say, on your head be it....You will need good lights- large sections of the route are well-lit, but as much isn't. In view of the very limited bail-out opportunities (there are ferries during the night, but you might have a bit of a wait both to get back to the port and for the boat), please take extra care to check over your bike and kit, and make sure you have spare tubes, tools for non-quick release wheels (been there, done that....), and so on. If you're interested, please PM or email me (stu underscore affleck at yahoo dot co dot uk) to get on the list, including your CTC or BC number, mobile number and confirmation that you've read the basics. Please also state if you if you'd be OK with an alfresco half-way or would only want something more civilised.