Sunday, 28 June 2015
St Albans Ride Out to Uppingham
I originally said a bunch of us were meant to be going on this ride out... come this morning we were down to two - me on my 954 blade and Andy on his trusty viffer. It promised to be a good day, the weather was nice and dry and the sun was on its way out.
We set off at 8:03 and followed the exact route that I wrote about in my previous post. Traffic was minimal, but we weren't bombing about anyway. As we got onto Poynters Road in Dunstable, Andy pulled up next to me to tell of his approval of the Chaul End road. It is a great little stretch as you come out of Caddington - several bends at a decent speed and that fantastic view over east Dunstable/west Luton before you come down the hill to the A505 bypass.
Going through Ampthill we started to get hit by the rain, just spitting initially until we got onto the A421/A428 bypass where is started coming down in spades. There was a cycle race going on with riders showing full commitment and energy, which was impressive given the wet conditions.
Once onto the A428 I noticed Andy was dropped back every so often and keeping his speed down. So just before we entered Northampton I pulled over into a parking lay-by to see if all was OK and to stretch my legs. Andy told me that he had a little wobble coming off one of the roundabouts on the bypass and was just a bit cautious. Could have been something in the road, but I personally have always been less confident on Bridgestone tyres in the wet.
We soldiered on through the wet conditions, which we were exposed to all the way to Uppingham. The B664 is a challenging road, but even more so in the wet. I noticed Andy putting his foot down as he went round some of the corners, not completely trusting in the capabilities of his tyres in the wet. We got to the Harley dealership in 2 and a half hours - which was the ETA given by Garmin Basecamp.
Bikes in the Harley range can sell for as much as £30,000 new. These are great looking bikes with lots of torque, lazy engines and ultimate comfort. However, me and Andy were both saying how we can't see ourselves using something like this on English and European roads where we have plenty of bends and roundabouts to think about. Some of the smaller bikes (in terms of frame rather than engine) look more capable, but the fuel efficiency is pretty low. The lady running the food bar outside was chatting to us. She has the same model as the matt black bike on the plinth (see photo below) and says that she rides it quite comfortably. However, she did admit the difficulty in cornering compared to the bikes we were riding, but that is made up for by the comfort.
When we turned up we were the only two bikes outside the dealership. Just before we left a small group of riders turned up - a couple of VFRs, Tiger Explorer, GS 1400, old CBR 600 and a couple of other bikes. We commended them on their efforts to get out considering the weather and rode off to find somewhere to eat. Not seeing anything of use in Uppingham,
I followed Andy southbound on the A6003 to Corby where we found a Hungry Horse. It was a bit early for a full on lunch (around 11.30am) so we both had an all day breakfast (thanks Andy!) and a cup of tea as we watched the sun breaking through the clouds and the rain stopped - typical. At just shy of 12.30 we jumped back on the bikes to head back home. We followed the A6003 / A43 / A14 and A509 to Newport Pagnell. It was here that we said our farewells and I headed down the M1 to Luton, arriving home at dead on 2:00pm.
My bike was spotless when I left the house this morning... little bit dirty at the end of the ride! Was great fun, really enjoyed it and glad I had some company today. The B664 will be better when dry. It may be best to take the fast route up there in the morning in order to enjoy the plethora of decent roads in that region - particularly as you enter Lincolnshire. Any suggestions - please comment below, always welcome!