Andover to: Newbury
I am blessed that this is the road I get to travel to work on every day. OK, most of the time I wimp-out and take the car, but on the bike, it puts a smile on my face. Here it is. As you leave Andover under Enham Arch you are tempted by a short stretch of dual carriageway interspersed with a couple of fast clearview roundabouts - get the tyres warmed up here. Give it a quick blast on the short stretch of open road between Andover and Enham, but watch out 'cos this road holds flood water for days after rain. Steady through Enham and don't be tempted to wind-it up too quickly 'cos the first right hander is tight. Now you can go. Into the dip and then into the forrest stretch (some nice twisties - watch out for pheasents and deer) before emerging high above Hurstbourne.
If the conditions are right and you are on the road early in the morning, you may now be given a real treat as you aften get a cloud inversion in the Valley below. It looks stunning as you descend from clear skies into mist. The drop into Hurstbourne is quite steep, over the bridge, lovely double-s (slow though and steady for villagers). As you come out of the village you get a clear view up the hill - wind it back here and burn-off the slowbies. Fast right hander at the top and then power on down the straight past Essebourne Manor. The next bit I find tricky. A sweeping downhill righ-hander through the forrest, followed by a moderatley tight lefty at the bottom. I don't know if its a slight unfavourable camber, or 'cos I've seen two many cars ploughing fields here, but that combo plays on my mind and I always tighten-up! Now a couple of fast bends and up and downy bits (good stuff) before a long up-hill straight through the trees (this looks stunning coming the other way). At the top, another combo, this time a lefty, followed by a down-hill right and then a fast left, before hitting the straight past the Yew Tree. Steady thro' Highclere, under the A34 and onwards into Newbury.
If you do this in reverse, watch out for speed-traps: (i) as you come out of Highclere and (ii) at the bottom of the hill as you enter Hurstbourne. Have fun. About 15 miles of it.
Weymouth to: Bridport
Cannot believe this isn't here already! 17 miles, 3 villages, no cameras, occaisional plod. The local boys do it in ~ 12 minutes. Leave Weymouth via Chickerell, long straight ~140 (abought 1/2 mile which IS a long straight on this road!!) dropping past the 'Knights in the Bottom' pub (crap but the patrons still like to pull out in front of you) sharp 70mph right at the top of the hill - watch out for campers pulling out of Bagwell Farm! A mile or so of undulating road under trees before a blind summit (about 120mph is just right if I recall) that goes slightly left as you land! Open 140mph+ road to Portesham with a slight jump if you hit it fast enough. The KingsArms is a fairly good pub to sit and listen to everyone else doing it while you debug your visor with a pint! There's a 90 degree left at the exit from the vilage, mind your head on the corner of the cottage! A 90mph off-camber right leads to another airborne moment on your way through to the next village. Watch out for horses as you approach the village of Abbottsbury. The road through this village is very narrow so if you've got a loud pipe, no point in keeping it to yourself HeHe!! A very long steep twisting climb out of the village (1st gear in a full car!) onto the high ground watchout for the muppets looking at the view on the way up to the high ground and for the next few miles!(actually worth stopping for a look once you've done this road 50 or 60 times!) There are several opportunities to get airborne before the long twisting descent into Burton Bradstock - Beware of the third in a series of humps, ifyou get it wrong it'll dump you on the bonnet of the oncoming car - it has happened sadly. There are several hidden exits on the long straight down past Cogden Beach, this is muppet country so keep the brakes covered, they all have 30 mph brains which can't compute bikes closing @ 140+. Sharp 90 mph right dropping down into the next village. Ease down into Burton Bradstock - there's a right turn where camper vans delight in taking three or four goes at, couple of opportunities for kneedown on the entry and exit from this village. Nail it out of the village watch out for the chicane in the midle, car drivers like to play 'after you, no after you' here! Two good corners here, nail it soon as your clear of the chicane and bang theright knee down as you exit the village loadsa room to set-up for the left although don't run wide, the oncoming loves to cut the corner! Be wary as you crest the hill past Freshwater (more bleedin' holiday maker Kamikaze's turning right in front of you)ease off and take the first left into West Bay. Several kiosks around the harbour all selling the usual chips 'n tea. I can't guarantee that anything hasn't changed on this route, lived there for 18 years and only moved away 2 years ago. It's the only thing I miss about Dorset!! Be very wary of the local Plod in and around Bridport - it's sticksville and they've got cock all else to do but give bikers a hard time - particularly Dougie Miners if he's still around - total Nob! Same goes for Dick Ferris in Weymouth - that bastard would nick his own granny!
MACCLESFIELD to: BUXTON
PROBABLY THE MOST DEMANDING ROAD IN THE UK. APPROX 10MLS OF QUALITY A ROAD. LOADS OF BENDS AND UNDULATIONS. OFF CAMBER BENDS A PLENTY. SUNDAYS IN SUMMER ARE MAD. IF YOU SURVIVE GO THROUGH BUXTON ON THE A6 THROUGH BAKEWELL TO MATLOCK BATH. LOADS OF BIKERS MEET THERE ALL THROUGH THE SUMMER. COME AND AVE A GO IF YOU THINK YER ARD ENOUGH. SEE YOU THERE.
Glencoe to: Glencoe
Throughout its length from Glasgow to Inverness the A82 is a joy. An A-road metelled for bikers - it doesn't so much change direction as gracefully sweep with a confident camber and no road furniture. It's almost as if you'd laid the tarmac yourself.
The bonnie bonnie banks of loch Lomond set the tone for the whole route as the road clings to the magnificent landscape. On through the splendour of Glencoe and past loch Ness (an opportunity to spot some of the more elusive wildlife such as Nessiteras rhombopterix) on to Forts William & Augustus - no boring straight Roman road here. Here you can see so far ahead it's unreal. There's nothing, absolutely nothing coming. Just breeze by and smile. During the summer the A82 is littered with Germans and the Scot's old ally the French. They come here in droves - well, cars and bikes. Perhaps they are overawed by the Alps and come here for scenery that's a bit less severe. Even with holiday traffic there's that sense of freedom, a feeling that simply glides you along this ride to remember.
The highpoint of the A82 is the stretch Bridge of Orchy, over Rannoch Moor through Glencoe to Ballachulish. Reverse the trip to double your pleasure. From the Bridge of Orchy the snaking black ribbon climbs rapidly as the Moor opens out before you. 1000 metre peaks fence in the vast, intimidating bog. Don't hang about as it could be Scotland's own Area 51. Lean and flow quicksilver across the elevated expanse of peat and rock. The Three Sisters wait to swallow you into fast approaching valley. As the sides begin to loom now you ease off. The roadside crash barriers give away the vital sign. Find your religon and pray to the great god Michelin as the clear opening bends invite you and your bike to shine. You're bathed in stunning landscape with heather, bracken and conifers partially clothing the huge great lumps of towering rock. Fresh mountain air and that immense feeling that the bike is part of the road. That big grin creeps over your face and sets hard.
This is perfect for that long get-away-from-it-all weekend. A chance to clear the lungs and recharge the head. Whether you're a bumbag or tank bag or full panier kit biker there's no problem finding a place to kip & scoff as the area is dotted with B&Bs, guest houses, hotels and hostels and of course - campsites. Grab petrol at any one of a number of modern or quaint stations. This is where they make Scotch Mist so check with Bill Giles first. The Ballachulish Hotel and The Kingshouse Hotel afford more comfort than most around here - and the Youth Hostel in Glencoe is spot on. The Clachaig Inn serves good food and decent ales - but won't serve Campbells!
In Glencoe stands a stone cross to commemorate the MacDonald's massacre by the Campbells. Down the road in South Ballachulish is a monument to James Stewart who was wrongly hanged for his alleged part in the massacre. If the tales of blood, guts and betrayal in the Visitor Centre don't put you off your food then head for the Fish & Chip caravan or local Spar. The Thunderace's brakes are tested just once as a deer bounded into the road - at least the flat cap in the Volvo is half predictable. After all this is sheep and deer country. It's also skiing country - either the dry or the snowy variety - we could try anything once. Whisky distilleries are scattered here and there to tempt you once the bike is tucked up safely.
Once you head has cleared the A82 has tributaries that each in turn lead to something special. And for my next trip... Wonder up to Ben Nevis or nip over the Corran Ferry to Strontian & Ardnamuchan? Twist down the A828 to Oban and perhaps a ferry to Ireland? Whistle up the A87 over the sea to Skye or catch the A830 to Mallaig? The strange roundabout at Ballachulish could prompt a few circles whilst you decide which way to go. Sod it! Let's go back up the glen just one more time.
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