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.
Spalding to: Melton Mowbray
Almost worth moving to East Anglia so you can blast to Donington. From the A16/A1073 crossroads turn towards Spalding, then left over a bridge and right at the petrol station (easy to miss this turn). 30 limit for a mile or so, then left at the t-junction. This soon becomes a 50 limit, then you're out over the fens. Watch out for the sharp r/h bend at Pode Hole, then fast and staight to Pinchbeck, over the humpback bridge and sharp left. Some beautiful twisties and straight-line stuff, another 90 right at Twenty then flat, fast and bumpy all the way into Bourne. Watch out for some VERY deep dykes both sides of the road. Straight across the lights at Bourne and watch out for speed traps on the slight rise out of the village. Out of the limit and sharp right and up hill through some woods then a long downhill striaght, followed by some lovely twists before the 90 right into Edenham. The speed limit here has been altered so watch it, another popular spot for 'hairdryers'. A short blast of twists with a slight rise and fall then the two rights and 90 left into Grimthorpe, 40 limit. The 90 right as you leave the village is VERY steep uphill, and you can power on early as the speed limit ends there. A set of glorious twists and striaghts past Grimthorpe Castle, then a 90 right and GO FOR IT all the way to Corby Glen. Fast, wide sweeps and few juctions to worry about. Corby Glen is now 30 limit so beware. Up the hill out of Corby Glen, out of the limit past the Grantham turn (another great road), then right, downhill and left under the railway bridge. Then it's fast and twisty all the way to Colsterworth and the A1, just a couple of rights to watch out for. Cross the A1, 30 through Colsterworth then flat to Stainby (30). Long straight out of Stainby with a tricky right kink then striaght to Buckminster. 30 through here then it's pure Joey Dunlop all the way to Melton, with just three very short 30 limits through villages, all with very sharp entries and exits. For a change, coming back from Melton use the A606 to Oakham, past Rutland Water and on to Stamford. Much wider and smoother, therefor faster, but not so much fun in my opinion. And if you're not knackered after that, you weren't trying hard enough! Cheers and be safe.
Portrush to: Larne
This is THE great biking road for those of you returning from the North West 200 to the ferry at Larne. Although it has, I think been nominated in 1997, it is well worth reminding any UK riders of it. After the races, take the A2 for Bushmills, home of the famous whiskey, and then follow this road from Bushmills to Ballintoy, passing the world famous Giants Causeway on the way. Well worth a visit. The A2 leaves Ballintoy heading for Ballycastle and along the way you will see a sign for Torr Head. This is a coastal road, and while it affords great sea views, it is not really suitable for sports bikes as it is very narrow and steep in places. Probably better to stick with the main road, which crosses over some high ground before descending into the village of Cushendun. Over the mountain top you will see plenty of sheep grazing along the roadside, but worry not, they are well used to traffic and wont even turn their heads as you go zooming by! A good fast smooth road links Cushendun to the slightly larger Cushendal, and from here the best bit begins. Down along the coast with the mountains on your right and the Irish Sea on your left. Its smooth, fast and frantic. Through Glenariff, on to Carnlough, where you can grab some grub, and on through Glenarm and Ballygalley into Larne where the P&O ferry to Cairnryan awaits. For those of you taking the Stena ferry to Stranraer, it is probably best to take the A8 to Belfast. It is possible to carry on the A2 to Belfast, but it is quite built up, with lots of traffic and the possibility of speed traps. Probably better to take the A8 the 20 miles to Belfast, but keep a good eye out for police on this road, as it is the main route to Larne Harbour and the cops are on it regularily. Enjoy!
Stratford to: Banbury
!7 miles of pure bikeing joy. After a visit to the waterside in Straford on a Sunday give this usually traffic free road a go. Best bit is the fast up hill left followed by slow steep uphill right at sunrise hill, get your speed and gears right and this is a very rewarding combination. The rest of the route is mostly fast sweepers but there are some slower ones and some are bumpy. Unfortunatly there can be the usual junk associated with farms and tractors after wet weather. Take care through the villages on this route. Otherwise enjoy.
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