Barton le Clay, Bedfordshire to: Hitchen, Hertfordshire
Take the B655 out of Barton towards Hexton and Hitchen and as soon as you come out of the village it's into a slightly curved open blast of countryside. As you come up the slight rise a lovely right hand bend (be careful of the drop on the left!) takes you down into Hexton. It is here where it is worth slowing down to the 40mph speed limit for the 150 yards through the village as the bottom of the hill into Hexton levels off very quickly and sports bikes nearly ground themselves!
After going through the bottom of Hexton the road rises steeply and comes out of the 40mph limit, opening the throttle again sees a flurry of trees fly by before dropping round a fast left hander before rising again into a fast rising right before slowing to a 3rd/2nd gear sharp left hander. Opening the throttle again blasts you down the flat straight out of the trees and up the hill through a fast right hander and into another fast left (watch the rough tarmac!). A little wiggle left takes you onto the flat and round the fast slight left hander and onto another fast straight. Going back into the trees takes you into a quite fast right (be careful as it is on a deceptive slight rise making the bike very light!) and then into a good series of fast lefts and rights finsihing with a slightly sharper left. The trees then open as you blast along the last curvy straight. Caution must be taken towards the end of the straight due to a right hand bend with roads joining on either side, after which another quite sharp left takes you up the hill and into the 40mph which starts the slow down into Hitchen.
A cracking 4 mile ride which you can keep going over getting faster and faster with no reported police presence (after 4 years of riding the route) and not too much traffic. Bliss!
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.
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.
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!
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