Barton-le-Clay, Beds to: Newton, Essex
Join the A505 at Barton heading towards Hitchin and start with a maxed out straight half a mile climbing up to the first of the med/fast sweepers almost all of which are much faster than they look (where's your bottle ?) and half of which are blind so you can't resist going back and doing it again just to prove a point. Slow down going through the village of Hexton, which is a real shame cos it's really a chicane not a village, then pump it up hill, blind right, don't back off - it'll work. Take it easy on the red tarmac corner (decreasing radius) then basically hammer it all the way through a series of S-bends until it straightens out. Watch out for cars turning across your path here, the junction's on the crest/bend, then ignore the SLOW sign on the fast left, it lies (although you may meet a tractor cos there's a farm entrance, your call,)and slow down going through Hitchin. Turn right at the main roundabout towards Stevenage, round the bypass to another one and exit to the B565 Codicote (described well elsewhere but mistakenly called both the A656 and the A507)this is a good road, and it gets faster every time I ride it, most bends have +'ve cambers, visibility is good or at least you can see the line of the hedges ahead and there's that nice blend of enough cars to carve past and yet not so many that they get in the way. It's not exactly a race track, but all the corners are of the type that makes you feel you got it close to perfect. When you get to Codicote keep going to Welwyn, then bomb up the A1M for a couple of Junctions (I haven't found a better way - there are lanes but too narrow/slow for any fun, so best just get it over with) and join the A507 to Baldock and then on to Buntingford (described elsewhere) then go into Buntingford (Little Chef on your right) and take a left down the A1038 towards Quendon which is for the most part med/fast and twisty and seems to go on for ages once you're past the dogleg X-roads. Apparently there's a good road (A1060) from Bishops Stortford (2 mins from Quendon) too so God knows where you could end up. These roads aren't the ultimate dog's bollocks but this is Beds/Herts/Essex not Dartmoor or Buxton. I defy anyone to do this route without having a YEEE-HAH or three.
Sheffield to: Sheffield
Starting from Owler Bar roundabout on the A621/B6054 follow the 621 through the first few twisties (newly resurfaced!!),down Baslow hill to the roundabout.Turn right,through Baslow to the second roundabout and turn left (now on the A619).Take the first right (still the A619) and go for it! through the fabulous Thirteen Bends and take the first right onto the A6020.The first half mile is dead straight,slightly downhill with a hidden dip to get airborn and then stand on the brakes for the roundabout!! Straight across and follow A6020 through some nice twisties to the T junction with the A6 at Ashford-in-the-Water.Turn right and follow the A6 up Taddington Dale where the road eventually opens up into dual carraigeway (Taddington bypass) and drop down the other side for the run into Buxton through the the nice twisties alongside the river Wye.At the first roundabout you come to,turn left,upto and straight on at the lights to a second set and bear left onto the A53.AS you climb out of Buxton turn right just past Rock Bay Garage onto the A54.Take the left fork after approx 1.5 miles (still the A54)and follow the road all the way to the lights at Bosley but be prepared to get airborn and watch out for suicidal sheep!!Right at the lights along the A523 into Macclesfield and follow the signs for Buxton on the infamous A523 Cat and Fiddle,eventually rejoining the A54 for the drop into Buxton.Turn right at the first set of lights re-tracing your earlier route back to the roundabout on the A6 but this time turn left,on to a second roundabout and turn right (still the A6)out past the golf course(watch out for low flying balls!!) and drop down through Dove Holes to the roudabout at Barmoor Clough.Turn right and follow the A623 past Sparrowpit,down through Peak Forest(be careful here...watch out for radar trap!)up over Tideswell Moor,though Wardlow Mires and drop down through Middleton Dale to Stoney Middleton and Calver.Go straight on at Calver lights,back through Baslow village and up the fabulous Baslow hill to the Owler Bar roundabout starting point.Stop here for a fag/leak and do it all again!!
Guisborough to: Whitby.
The A171 from Middlesbrough to Whitby now bypasses Guisborough but it's worth starting this ride in this picturesque market town. The road leaves Guisborough through farmland and woodlands and the steep 500 ft. climb up on to the North Yorkshire Moors is made at Birk Brow with two tight, tight bends and great views on your left. After the climb, the road swoops down past Lockwood Beck reservoir and starts to unfold before you, plenty of very fast sections with long, sweeping bends as well lots of undulations. Point to note - on the section past Scaling Reservoir, beware speed traps. The Grapes pub is here and it is well worth a stop. The descent into Whitby begins three miles out of town and the view of this beautiful fishing and holiday town laid out beneath you is breathtaking. Drop into town and ride around the West harbour, ending off by ascending the cliff and parking up next to the whalebones. Best fish and chips in town can be found in The Magpie Cafe next to the fishmarket. For the return journey, you are faced with a hard choice. Either reverse the route just taken or take the picturesque but very much slower coastal road, the A 174/3.
Harrogate to: Harrogate
Leave Harrogate on A61 towards Ripon. At 2nd Ripley roundabout take left turn onto B6165 to Summerbridge and Pateley Bridge. Down Pateley high street over river bridge take next right signed to Ramsgill. 50+ corners on this road in 8 miles, from Ramsgill follow road into Lofthouse, turn right in Lofthouse signed to Leighton and Fearby. Follow this road accross the moors through Leighton and Fearby into Masham. Call at Boarder House tea room in market square for a cuppa and bacon sandwich. Take A6108 out of Masham back to Ripon and A61 back to Harrogate.
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