New Horizons Motorcycle Training and Tours

Combining Motorbike Touring with Training


June 2014


Ok, so we didn’t ride here! Out of the country for a couple of weeks, enjoying the sights and sounds of Doha. Of course I am working here!

Picture of the Dhow Harbour at night, Doha.

Dhow Harbour at night, Doha

Gentlemen bikers – to the Slaughters!

Lower and Upper Slaughter that is!

Ride planned for the Saturday 14 June; 8am (ish) start from the Cricklade Town Hall.

Exact route to be defined on the day, but, up the A419, turning right and heading North along the A429 (Fosse Way), through to Bourton-on-the-Water and then taking a left to Lower Slaughter; then onto Upper Slaughter for a tea stop – errr as it turned out…no, couldn’t find a place to stop. Never mind.

Lower Slaughter – have been past this turning on numerous occasions, but never really knew what was lurking just away from the main road. What a treat!! Well worth a detour.

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From here, headed out to Upper Slaughter and then onto Guiting Power. Got a little lost and ended up going past Sudeley Castle and into Winchcombe. Then out to Bishop’s Cleeve and Cheltenham.

At Cheltenham, we knew where we were this time, we followed the same route out as before. This time though, we stopped at the same tea stop, but afterwards, we turned left towards Andoversford, Ullenwood and Cirencester. Then back to Cricklade down the A419.

Sometimes it really is worth just heading out without any real plan. The Slaughters were a treat worth making. The whole journey was great and probably my favourite so far. There was a huge variety of roads and scenery to take in.

Total mileage was around 82; time taken approx 3 hours (including tea and photo stops).

Bath and back

Every day!! Nice ride along the B4040 to Malmesbury especially at this time of year. Early morning rides to work which makes getting to work enjoyable – so much so, I actually look forward to the alarm at 5:50am!!

Then onto the M4 at junction 17, down to junction 18, then along the A36 into Bath itself. This is a nice section of the journey in general as it is up and over the downs. Into Bath, right to the centre close to the bus and train station, onto Lower Bristol Road.

The route home is via Lansdown road and Wick. This avoids the queue on the London road and quite often the long queue on the A36 too.

That’s a top tip for anyone visiting Bath – use the park and ride at Lansdown road. Parking in Bath is crazily expensive; the roads can be challenging to get round, and the buses can be very aggressive too!

Lansdown was a site of a Civil war battle – just in case you were interested!

Then the route home is the reverse of the way in. Could vary it a little, so rather than using the M4, I could go straight over at J18, following signs to Tetbury and back that way. Loads of choices!

Trip can be 35 miles in; and around 40 miles home. Time can vary greatly too – in a car it can take up to 2 hours to get home if there has been an incident on the roads.

Advanced Rider Training

This was my second session on the Advanced Rider training course with Wiltshire RoADAR see link

We met at the Divine Cafe, Cherhill, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 8UU ready for a 10:45 start with my tutor Mark Sealey.

My route to the Divine Cafe was via Wroughton and Avebury – and it poured down. Top tip: Oxford Bone Dry gear does not do what it says! Suggest buy something else if you are looking for new biking gear.

Route back to Cirencester from the Divine was rather pleasant. I followed Mark to get a better idea of how to position myself in the road as per the “Motorcycle Roadcraft” book. We ended up in Cirencester for a quick chat and review of the ride so far. Then it was my turn to lead all the way back to Wootton Bassett.

Nice little jaunt, and a valuable lesson too.

Since I started the Advanced Rider training, and this is only my second session, I already feel as though my riding has improved significantly. Entering and leaving corners, hazard perception are becoming second nature – and the mpg from KES is around 50 at the moment. Wonder if I can improve on that?

Wantage – the “Great” ride!

Richard G and I decided to take the scenic route to Wantage via the Uffington White Horse and return through Faringdon, Lechlade and Fairford. What a great ride it turned into. A huge variety of difficult bends alongside some fantastic countryside vistas passing through some quintessential English villages that could so easily have been painted by Constable along the way!

Leaving Cricklade, we headed south along the A419 to the Common Head roundabout where we took the first left to Wanborough. Lower Wanborough has a fine selection of decent village hostelries offering plenty of choices of good beer and food. However, we weren’t stopping so headed straight on through up Pack Hill crossing at the Callas Hill and High Street cross roads heading out to Wantage.

Hinton Parva was the first village we went through. Rather than taking the short cut via the Water Garden we took the long route which was very pleasant indeed. Winding through the village provided a short taster of what was to come further along the way.

Next came Bishopstone. This is probably my favourite village along our route which is due to the large duck-pond in the centre (apparently no funding from central government here!).

This road also forms part of the Icknield Way which is an ancient track connecting Norfolk to Wiltshire and is reputed to be one of the oldest roads in Great Britain. It may have been named after the Iceni tribe – (Queen Boadicea).

Through Bishopstone, Ashbury and finally nearing Uffington, we turned right up to the White Horse Hill car park for a pit-stop and for me to remove one layer from my jacket as it was a rather warm day.

The Uffington White Horse is a Bronze age (between 800BC and 100AD) carving into the chalk hills. It is more of a symbolic horse and there has been speculation as to what it might really have been; though a horse is what it has been known as since around the 11th Century. Surrounding the hill-top is an Iron Age fort. Nearby is Dragon Hill, where St George, as legend has it, slayed the dragon; the blood that dripped can still be seen carved into the chalk mound. A short walk from here gets you to Waylands Smithy burial mound built in the shape of a cross around 3700BC, which is long before Christ was born!

Turning right from White Horse Hill we burbled onto Wantage which is only a short distance of 5 miles or so away.

Wantage is a small market town in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire and is also the birthplace of King Alfred in 849. It has a pleasant market square which is accessible to cars and motorbikes alike. There are plenty of shops and places to have a snack or drink at here. Leaving the market square and heading in the direction of Grove, we passed by a water powered mill which I believe dates to around the late 18th Century.

Heading to Grove, home of the F1 racing team Williams, we then started looking for signs to Kingston Baguize or Faringdon, and again we flowed through some very quaint Oxfordshire villages with watermills and streams. We should have looked at the map as we aimed for Kingston Bagpuize as a way to get to the A420, but missed it. Instead from Grove, we went via Denchworth, through to Charney Bassett – from there, not too sure how we got to the A420 – but then, never mind! It was worth a detour to see some very pretty Oxfordshire villages!

Onto the A420 we headed to Faringdon where we then went through to Lechlade and onto Fairford. From there to Marston Meysey and then to Cirencester. We blasted home, only at 70mph of course, on the A419 back to Cricklade. Total trip around 65miles or so; we were certainly riding for a good couple of hours.

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