Finding time for a touring trip to spectacular, traffic-free roads in awe-inspiring scenery is an ask too far for many. But what if you could do it all in a day – and be back in time for tea?
That’s the challenge I set myself – and shared with users of this site.
The result was ten and a half hours on the road which took me as far as the Welsh coast and through the Snowdonia National Park. You don’t find roads or scenery like that in Cambridgeshire, I can assure you.
Users were asked to recommend directions, roads and routes in something of an interactive online ride. I was in regular touch with the office reporting progress and emailing back snaps from my mobile. See 'interactive ride; latest' link, right, for details.
My freshly updated CB1300S was by now adorned with its Honda crash bungs and rear-seat carrier (which converts into a pillion back support).
We had also changed the tyres for BT020s, bolted on an Ermax bellypan and a Blueflame titanium exhaust (raising power by around 4bhp).
See links right for more on them.
Just after 8am, and I was off from home in Huntingdon, Cambs.
The vote had been that I should head west. And that’s what I did until I first needed petrol… on the M54. I’d done just over 100 miles in the first couple of hours via the A14 and M6 to give us a good start.
Now, with the promise of Welsh roads so close, it seemed churlish to ignore.
So after a first check-in with the motorcyclenews.com team for updates from users on our forums, I was off into Mid-Wales, down the A5 and on to the A458 for Welshpool. I made a quick diversion for Powis Castle then headed into the Cambrian Mountains on the A458. It’s a cracking road for a bike like the big CB; loads of sweeping bends without being too gnarly.
I encountered the merest dribble of a shower as I climbed, but the almost complete absence of traffic more than made up for it – as did the views. Many are the equal of those you’ll find in Scotland – and Scotland ain’t a there-and-back-in-a-day destination for me…
About 11am and I was still in the mountains. Three hours on the road and not a hint of discomfort thanks to the CB’s relaxed riding position. Finally getting a signal, I fired back another snapshot to the office.
As the roads tightened the limitations of the twin shocks became more apparent, the bike wallowing a little. It’s time I tried dialing that out.
I had intended to find somewhere for lunch in Dolgellau but I decided to carry on to hit the coast before stopping.
Entering Barmouth, with its Tarmac coiling and clinging to a sheer cliff face, reminded me of resorts along the Italian Riviera. The weather didn’t. There was a low grey cloud when I hauled up on the quayside to send in another snapshot.
The plan to stop for lunch melted away as I turned north on the A496. This coast road offers startling views of crashing surf and golden beaches – often far below. You’ll encounter Harlech Castle too – and Portmeirion village if you fancy it. But my journey west had ended and I turned into the Snowdonia National Park at Maentwrog..
Taking the A470 south towards Trawsfynydd, I stopped to fill the CB’s tank before tackling the A4212. The route passes lakes and through valleys (I got buzzed by the obligatory low-flying jet fighter) with views to thrill the most cynical eyes. But the road is less challenging than the A458 I had gone west on. If you like very fast, open sweeping roads, then it’s for you. Local police watch it regularly.
After reaching the A5 at Druid I made a brief lunch stop just before Llangollen. It was almost 3pm. I hadn’t eaten since 7am. I’d been perfectly well satisfied by the ride.
The A5 soon took me south past Oswestry and thickened into duller dual carriageway as I passed Shrewsbury. It was coming up to 4pm by the time I’d got back to the M54. The last part of my journey would make up the bulk of the miles, but would be covered swiftly.
On the final leg – on the A14 - with over 400 miles covered, I was getting the slightest tingle of numb bum. My right foot had numbed slightly from vibes through the right peg, too. But apart from that I was remarkably comfortable after 10 and a half hours on the road. No neck or back pain at all.
And I was, indeed, home in time for tea.
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