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M271/A27/A3057/A343/

Southampton to: Newbury and Back

Approx 110 Miles. Some good coutry A Road twisties, steep hills and some good fast stuff. From Millbrook Roundabout, Southampton, take the M271 (worst road in Britain?) it's typical ripply concrete but its fast and fairly straight so makes a good warm up, but thankfully its short, it crosses the M27 at a large traffic light controlled r/about, at the end of the second bit bear left onto the A27. A nice stretch into Romsey, (can get busy). At Romsey head onto the A3057, a good twisty road but with a couple of 30 mph villages but good scenery and some great bends, (surface is OK).

Through Stockbridge and on towards Andover, again some villages but good fun and some fast sweepers. At Andover go through the ring road and out onto the A343 through some nice Urban national speedlimit dual cariageway. (HIGHWAY CODE ANYONE?) Good fast road, twisty and some very steep hills, eventually after Highclere you hit the infamous Newbury bypass section of the A34 head north 1 junction, its all u need (or want) anyway its the best bit of the new road, fast and steep/twisty (mind the wobble boxes). Join the A4, towards Hungerford, this is the old London to Bristol Road and it shows, its usually very quiet (M4 is much faster direct). The great thing about this section is the width, its genuinely 3 proper lanes wide, but as a single carriageway A road its just sweet for bikes you just ride the middle lane if theres anyone to overtake. Super Fast.

At Hungerford take the A338 towards Salisbury, its pretty twisty to start with but speeds up when u hit the upgraded section at Burbage. Mind the speed cameras in some of the 40 mph villages but its mostly well signed, seen plod here too. Loads of sweepers and good elevation changes for Hampshire.

At the A303 go under and at the r/about turn left then first right (B3084) towards Grately 30 mph village, at the railway station bear left signed Romsey Avoiding Low bridge, unclassified road but fast if unsighted, TT stylee, shortcut to A343 at Middle Wallop, at A343 turn right then quickly left (historic signs for Danebury Hillfort) this is A SUPERB STRETCH of road, 2 esses, both faster than u think, so so so fast along here and very good viz, very quiet, but at the end BEWARE, a very dirty farm both sides of the road, followed by a sharp off camber right/left and then a sharp stop at at give way (nice one this) give way sign, 75 Metres ! steep down hill stop at a very fast, dual carriageway, downhill bend on the A30, cheers Highways agency! take it easy here. Turn left, steep downhill, pootle through Stockbridge, plod, CHOICE here:

1= straight over up the stockbridge downs (B3049) to Winchester (traffic in the city centre) back to Southampton on the M3 throught the new by pass (Twyford down) which is a fun stretch when its not rammed, includes the tightest angle of bend allowed on a motorway. (alledgedly). or

2 =Turn right retrace your route on the A3057 to Romsey & Southampton. Just out of Stockbridge is a sweet bend on a hill combo, after Kings Somborne u WILL get stuck behind a slow car/van/bus I always do and you can't see anything due to the twisties and hedges, but if you wait there is a mile long straight when you drop out of the hill at Lower Brook, the record so far is 11 cars despatched along here . Easy though cos theres a long left sweeper at the end into a 40 with a pub on one side with cagers pulling in and out. Our local run this is and I've seen rideouts leaving from the Texaco station at Hungerford on a Sunday all the way through to Romsey, nice one lads, safe and tidy from what I saw. Enjoy and respect the villagers.


A161+A1077

Hessle to: Hessle

Starting at the Humber Bridge roundabout (Hessle) head east on the A63 (boring), at North Cave get onto the B1230 follow this to Howden and then get on the A614 through Goole. Go through the docks and take the A161 towards Swinefleet (I kid you not !). Now that's the boring bit over with, now comes the good bit. The A161 is a flat twisty road that runs along the bank of the river Ouse with only a few village's but plenty of visibility round the bends. Just after Crowle turn left onto the A18 towards Scunthorpe, just before Scunny turn left onto the A1077. Again this is an ace road with lots of twist'ies and sharp 90 degree bends. Watch out here as quite a few bikes end up in hedges due to being caught out. At South Ferriby there are some ace views over the Humber of the Bridge, at Barton turn on to the A15 and the bridge approach. Then once you have paid your toll (1) your home again.


A82

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.


A505/B565/A507

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.


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