Larne (Northern Ireland) to: Ballintoy, Co. Antrim.
If you're headed for the Northwest 2000 at Portrush this road's on your way from GB, particularly if you take the ferry across from Stranraer (Cairnrayan, nerby, actually sales into Larne). but if you're coming to Northern Ireland for any Roadraces, iuncluding the Sunflower, do this anyway - stay a little longer and you won't be disappointed with the roads! The route: the legendary A2 from Larne to Ballycastle via the Antrim Coast Road icluding the breathtaking scenic route over Torr Head from Cushenden. Smell the sea and seaweed! Best undertaken on a fine day wihtout a gale blowing in yer face! Head North from Larne,towards Glenarm. Watchout for suicidal Sunday drivers along the whole route! Narrow bridges in the cliffs best taken slowly. By Carlough hopefully the traffic thins out a bit - there aren't hugoe overtaking opportunities on this road but there are some good long straights if you're patient. Carry on North to Glenariff and then Cushendall, going inland slightly before turning East again to get to Cushenden. From here the roads amazinf up downs and switchbacks, but don't ride over the cliffs - the seas cold st this time of year. This is the full-on concentration bit, with no opportunities to go mad unless you're already certified - the surface is not quite up to it and a full-face Range Rover is waiting over the next brow to facilitate an unscheduled conference with sheep in ajoining fields. You can detour off the A2 if time and curiosity allow. Personally I like to press on (some very sudden bends as you cross Torr Head) through Ballycastle to pause at Ballintoy for very cheap food and cakes at the harbour - highly recommended but don't park your bike in the sea! And the route back. Well, the way you came, of course. If anything, its even more exciting coming back downhill. this was the first day's outing I had when I passed my test and bought a bike. I must've been totally barmy. But the views (if you get a chance!) on the way back more than make up for repeating the route. And then, you're just going to have to do it all over again, Clive....
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.
Llangollen to: Betsy-Coed and beyond
As already posted, this a great road BUT a warning: The last two times we have ridden this route (returning from Ireland), we have been pulled! The first time stopped by a road block after going through a hidden mobile radar trap - the police bike that came after us couldn't catch up (we didn't know he was there) so radioed ahead. The second time we were shadowed by an unmarked helicopter (thought we were being paranoid) and then into a hidden speed trap. We were lucky because for various reasons we got away with it, but the police are targeting this road, particularly bikes, and the use of the helicopter has been confirmed by the police, so watch out! Being in the middle of nowhere on an empty road is no excuse to these boys.
Tandragee to: Markethill (N.Ireland)
About 8-10 miles long, this road has a great surface with superb bends that open out nicely which means you can stay out of first gear. Part of the road is used by the Tandragee 100 road races during the year. No bumps or road works means a smooth fast enjoyable ride!!!!
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