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.
Inverary to: Inverary
Approach to Inverary from A82/A83 from Glasgow is entertaining and gorgeous but the true twisty stuff is to come...This is a circular route from Inverary up to Oban and back. Either go via Lochgilphead on the A83 (awesome twisty and spectacular views of Loch Fyne) or the other way on the A819/A85 to Oban which is as good with Loch Awe appearing at what seems like odd times thru the trees. Once you get to Oban there are plenty of places to stop and fuel you and your machine before taking the route back. Time of year is important as mid winter when I did it was well hairy! And summer finds acres of tourists in caravans and coaches.
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!
Garve to: Lochcarron
Built with money from the EU to allow the fish lorries to get up and down easier, this is a wonderful full-throttle or gentle cruising road. Starting 1km north of Garve, the A832 gets you warmed up for the main course after the roundabout at Achnasheen. The A890 is beautifully surfaced, sweeping full throttle curves, no trees, great scenery past Fionn Beinn, Moruisg and others. The only hazards are the ubiquitous woolly bollards as our Shetland friend names them and deer crossing. No police, no cameras but plenty of action. The last few miles are single track to allow your pulse to slow down. Can be combined with the Garve-Ullapool road mentioned above for a great day run.
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