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.
Amersham to: A43
Get off the M40 at Beaconsfield and head this way for a much more entertaining route from here to Northampton. Big sweepers, tight bits and a the odd few roundabouts connected by short straights. Great fun on the 'blade and almost as much of a laugh in the Focus....
Chippenham to: Chippenham
Chippenham / Wooten-Under-Edge / Chippenham When you leave Chippenham and head towards the M4 on the A350 dual carriageway, rest assured that the roads will improve - the best is near the end. At the M'way junction carry straight on to Malmesbury on A429. Don't go thro Malmesbury but head towards Cirencester - this gives you 2 nice roundabouts, the first one is worth a couple of laps. After the second turn left on the B4014 to Tetbury. A nice swoopy bendy road - about 8 miles. Tootle thro Tetbury being on the lookout for Royals, and turn left on A4135 towards Dursely. Straight across the T'lights and on a few miles. Now things start to get interesting. Turn left on B4058 to Wooten-Under-Edge. This road is a lovely series of lefts and rights down a hill - although they are blind they are still top corners, and a couple of trips up and down from Wooten centre are recommended. In Wooten find the B4060 to Wickwar. Good fast roads- at one point there is a shear drop on BOTH sides of the road - Quarries! From Wickwar on to Chipping Sodbury - a good place for a coffee. Take the A452 towards Bath and Stroud. As you pass a large caravan sales showroom be prepared to exceed the limit for it is worth it. About a mile on the road starts to go up hill, it also turns in to 3 lanes (a 40 mph limit). The up hill right hander is a joy at 80. Keep going and you will take a 270 degree long left - I guess it is more than 1/4 mile long! Just go for it. Straight across the A46 at t'lights. The next 10 miles is beautiful. Just ride what you see. Watch out for Yatton Kennel and go slowly back to the A420 to Chippenham. ENJOY.
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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