I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a fair weather biker! I don’t mind the rain so much but I do hate getting cold. As the days shorten and the weather gets colder another riding season comes to an end and it is time to put the bike away until spring 2013.
The end of the riding season inevitably causes me to look back over the highlights of the season just gone and to ask myself the question which was the best bike ride of the season?
I had many great motorbike rides in Durham, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders during the season though I do seem to remember getting wet more often than I would have liked!
I think though the best ride I had was a trip to see an old friend who lives down in Suffolk so that we could have a ride out together in the beautiful countryside of East Anglia.
My friend and I have made the journey to and from Suffolk to Durham on many occasions and have tried many different routes to avoid the obvious though boring route of using the A1 and the A14.
As I had all day to make the journey I chose what is my favourite route which begins by heading down the A19 to York. I then pick up the York ring road heading for the A1079 towards Hull via Market Weighton and Bishop Burton.
On approaching Hull I follow signs to the Humber Bridge. I have crossed the Humber Bridge on many occasions and I always find it impressive. What is impressive in a car is even more so on a motorbike. There is something very special about crossing such a huge expanse of water on a motorbike and of course it’s even better that motorbikes cross the bridge for free!
Over the Humber Bridge and follow the A15 towards the M180. On some occasions when I have made this trip I have got onto the M180 heading west for one junction and then re-joined the A15 towards Lincoln. This stretch of the A15 is remarkable by virtue of it being almost entirely straight, well at least on a map!
On this occasion I avoided the M180 and took the A18 heading East and then South East towards its junction with the A16. Then follow the A16 South via Louth and Boston all the way down till it joins the A17. Then East on the A17 toward Kings Lynn.
What made this journey particularly special was not just having a long ride through great scenery but also that it was supposed to rain but didn’t. As anyone who rides a bike will know you keep an eye on the sky to see what sort of weather is coming up and even change your route if rain can be avoided. There were black clouds but they kept to the far distance so I was able to ride in warmth and sunshine!
I rang my friend to see if he was going to ride out to meet me somewhere along the A17. It was raining where he was so he declined my invitation, something to do with not getting his highly polished Harley wet!
I followed the A17 around Kings Lynn and then picked up the A10 heading South to the junction with the A134 which is a great road going through Thetford and then down to Bury St Edmunds.
Just as I was riding into Bury St Edmunds it started to rain for the first time that day and boy did it rain!
I only had to go from Bury St Edmunds along the A134 to Long Melford which is very near to where my friend lives. It was a very wet ride for the last part of the journey and I could quite see why my friend had not wanted to come out to meet me.
The following day was glorious, the sun shone and we had a great ride out up into Norfolk and then back to a small custom bike show in the wilds of Suffolk.
The next day was the ride home and this was very different from the ride down. It was raining when I left my friend’s house and it did not stop till I got back to Durham. With the dreadful weather I decided against a nice route and went for the most direct, A14 from Bury St Edmunds to the A1 then North all the way back to Durham. Over 250 miles in the pouring rain! I have certainly had better rides.
The good thing was that however wet I got it was at least not cold and if you ride a motorbike in the UK you have to expect to get wet some times. There is a certain satisfaction in arriving home wet and bedraggled but having made it. Would I rather have been in the car? Certainly not. The great thing about a long journey on a motorbike is that it is always more than a journey, it’s always an adventure!
Ian Wanstall – Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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