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PICOS DE EUROPA The RiDE/Alpine TT tourists gather on the AS114 in Spain’s Picos de Europa: great weather, great scenery, great company

Touring EuropE’s Easy! To prove it, RiDE teamed up with touring experts Alpine TT for a trip to Northern Spain to suit nervous or novice tourists. Here’s how they got on Words Simon Weir Pictures Mark Manning

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o judge by the smiles and the relaxed banter, you’d guess that the group of bikers gathered in this gravelly layby on the AS114 outside Canales in Spain had know each other for years. In fact, they’d met barely five days earlier (apart from the pillion couples, obviously, who’d known each other for longer). They’d all met here, on the Ride/Alpine TT Tour of Northern Spain. The idea behind the trip was so simple, so obvious, it seemed odd that it hadn’t occurred to us before. “you’re always blethering on about how good touring in europe is,” editor Colin said. “you should organise a tour for readers – something to suit those who haven’t done one.” Thing is, I know tour planning isn’t as simple as it sounds. There’s a deceptively huge amount of work in sorting routes, restaurant, hotels… and the workload grows exponentially with the size of the group. The logistics of getting a small group of mates on a weekend away are a nightmare – never mind putting together a full-sized tour that would feel like a suitably Ride product. That’s where john Cundiff of Alpine TT came in. I’ve done tours with john before and, more to the point, he’s helped Ride with a number of product tests in the past. “don’t worry,” he said reassuringly. “I know what you need. great roads, good weather practically all year round, a really affordable place – and somewhere that will suit first-time tourists. I know the perfect place. Let me send you the details…” Six months later, here we are – a group of touring novices (with one or two more experienced riders as well) having the time of our lives in the Picos de europa mountains of Northern Spain. everyone agreed the tour exceeded all expectations – generating memories, friendships and a desire for more touring. but don’t take my word for it – here’s what they all had to say. TOUR 2013

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ROUTE DES GRANDE ALPES

The high road

The French like to do things on a grand scale, so the Route des Grandes Alpes should be the ultimate mountain road Words Simon Weir Pictures Mark Manning

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D902 Col de la Cayolle in the southern Maritime Alps. Beautiful TOUR 2013

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ROUTE 66

Wide open spaces… but Route 66 isn’t all dead-straight roads

TO U R SPE C Route:

Albuquerque, New Mexico to Santa Monica, California Time: One week Distance: 1200 miles Rider: Kevin Ash (H-D Road King) Best moment: “Riding into Oatman – a Wild West town at the end of a great road.” Worst moment: “My first and only taste of refried beans cooked in lard. Revolting.” Wide-open horizons ✓ History ✓ Amazing riding ✓ Friendly people ✓ 34 |

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Get yOuR kicks…

ON ROute 66 It’s an iconic road, but does the highway from Chicago to Santa Monica really deliver the essential American touring experience? Words Kevin Ash Pictures Caroline Quanjer and Gary Fleshman

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oute 66: everyone’S heard of it, most of us want to ride it... but surprisingly few know much about it, or even why it’s famous in the first place. think about it more and you could conclude that riding route 66 might just be a huge disappointment. After all, hour upon hour on long, straight American roads – nothing but fast food, slow people, bland motels and a 55mph limit – doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. However, those are the stereotypes and the only people who cite them are those who haven’t done it. I’ve ridden the road - or half of it, anyway, as it’s a very long way - and I’ll say right now, a ride on route 66 is very probably the best, most fascinating, evocative bike trip you’ll ever do. It was for me. A sense of history, imagination and romance helps. route 66 was built to connect the uS east with the West Coast by automobile. there’d been other attempts, notably the Lincoln Highway – but that ran across the north and was often closed by bad weather. route 66 loops south, into new Mexico and Arizona, as it runs between Chicago and Los Angeles. It was opened in 1926, 30 years after Coca-Cola was invented, 23 after Harley-Davidson was founded and, like them, has become an icon of the united States. In part this was because it linked communities on its way, at a time when a pioneering spirit still pervaded across the States. But this became a bitter legacy in the 1930s and the road’s fame soared as it was described in Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, the story of the mass migrations during the Great Depression as people fled west along 66 from dust-bowl farming states like oklahoma, to the harsh and hostile reality of the Californian promised land. route 66 has been a road of joy and reunion too. It carried thousands of troops home from the Second World War, heading TOUR 2013

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Garrowby Hill, A166

Perfectly preserved Sledmere

Moor for less There’s brilliant riding to be had on the North York Moors – without breaking the bank – as we found when we went camping in Whitby Words Simon Weir Pictures Mark Manning

TO U R SPE C Route: Lincoln to Whitby Time: three days Distance: 433 miles Riders: Simon (BMW F650GS), Pat (Suzuki V-Strom), Rasty (Kawasaki Versys) Best moment: Caistor High Street – or the North York TT. Or beer by the campfire. Worst moment: Monsoon rain on the final day and Pat’s tent leaking in the night. Rolling moorland roads ✓ Chips ✓ Shoestring touring ✓ Ice creams ✓ 46 |

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Having a natter at Staxton viewpoint

Then riding Staxton Hill, B1249

A169 by the Hole of Horcum: more scenic than your average A-road TOUR 2013

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west country

the beauty uty of 50 |

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t doesn’t matter if there is no work to go to or the children aren’t there to wake me up – my body clock is stuck in a 7am panic mode. and if I needed any help stirring from this ridiculously big, cosy bed above an idyllic pub on this late summer sunday morning, somewhere outside a solitary brush is noisily sweeping the pavement. But I’m happy to be up – the kids are with their grandparents and exmoor national Park and a nice motorcycle are ours to play with. If my wife Julie ever wakes up, that is…

Walking to the window I’m not sore from yesterday’s 10-hour day in the captain’s chair of the Ktm 990sm-t. outside, the quaint somerset village of Porlock is still. the sky is perfect blue with the sun just rising, poised to flood the winding high street with light. What’s in store today and what’s for breakfast? rewind a bit. With five kids and both of us working, time as a couple is always limited. so if there’s a chance to cash in babysitting vouchers, Julie and I like to get out on the bike. We both ride, but on long trips my wife prefers to go pillion. With

the long weekend

Taking time away from busy family life on a biking break for two sounds like a fine idea. We packed off Mr and Mrs Brackenbury to find how great it can be Words Luke Brackenbury Pictures Lorraine Nevill

TO U R SPEC Route: Time: Distance: Riders:

Peterborough to Porlock two days 433 miles Luke and Julie Brackenbury (KTM 990SM-T) Best moment: “Riding Cheddar Gorge – a surreal landscape and a brilliant road.” Worst moment: “Watching the video camera fall off the bike outside Cheddar.” Escape from family life ✓ Exploring ✓ Great riding for two ✓ Decent grub ✓

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SOUTH OF ENGLAND

There are some amazing roads in East Anglia

■ SOUTHWOLD

Quiet weekend away from the city? You can’t beat the sleepy beauty of the Suffolk coast. Admiring the work of the Adnams brewery as we do, our preferred destination is its charming home town of Southwold. Time off the bike is well spent with a tour of the brewery or just a stroll down to the seafront and the pier. It’s not all beer and beaches, though: there’s some first-rate riding as well. Our half-day loop is ideal for a late start, with the possibility of a shopping stop at Snape Maltings or coffee in Aldeburgh, with lunch in Woodbridge. WHAT TO SEE Adnams Brewery visit £10 ticket includes a tasting… unmissable! Book online, don’t just turn up. http://adnams.co.uk Snape Maltings Chic shops, nice refreshments and pleasant riverside walks. www.snapemaltings.co.uk The Waterfront Cafe Smart cafe with real quality menu, down by the quayside in Woodbridge. www.woodbridgefinefoodcompany. co.uk WHERE TO STAY Premium The Swan Hotel, Southwold http://adnams.co.uk Premium economy Newlands House www.newlandsofsouthwold.co.uk The RiDE ride 80 miles Southwold to Southwold via Westleton, Aldeburgh, Snape, Orford, Woodbridge, Helmingham, Laxfield and Halesworth.

■ POOLE

The biking heart of the South Coast, Bike Night on the quayside in Poole is a spectacle everyone can enjoy. True, we’d rather stay in town, stroll down and enjoy a pint or two rather than ride in and foreswear the beer (it’s a holiday, after all). You’re a bit spoilt for choice for good roads down here – if you get the timing right, as they can get busy. Our ride takes in the scenic New Forest, before heading out to brisker biking country between Winchester and Salisbury. For a riding challenge, the B3081 Zig-Zag Hill with its heavy load of hairpins is just a short detour from the main route, outside Shaftsbury. WHAT TO SEE Bike night Tuesday night sees bikes and bikers thronging The Quay, which is closed to other traffic from 5.30pm. Winchester Great Hall Famed as the home of King Arthur’s Round Table. Handy for lunch. www3.hants.gov.uk/greathall The Swan Slight detour for great-value pub lunch, just outside Salisbury. www.theswanatstoford.co.uk WHERE TO STAY Premium Harbour Heights, Poole www.harbourheights.com Premium economy RNLI College, Poole Http://rnli.org The RiDE ride 130 miles Poole to Poole via Cranbourne, Romsey, Winchester, Stockbridge, Cholderton, Salisbury, Shaftsbury and Wimborne Minster.

OTHER GREAT BIKING BREAKS

Perfect destinations for a two-wheeled getaway

Brighton + Cafe culture, South Downs roads, Speed Trials, Goodwood - Congestion, trendy prices WHERE TO STAY Myhotel Brighton www.myhotels.com

Enjoy Brighton Speed Week Woodstock + Blenheim Palace, decent restaurants, cracking Cotswold roads and the full Inspector Morse ambience - Honestly? Can’t think of any reasons not to visit WHERE TO STAY Marlborough Arms www.themarlborougharms.co.uk St Ives + Tate St Ives, surf culture, fresh seafood, B3306 to St Just - Grockles (tourists), big caravans in small lanes WHERE TO STAY The Queens Hotel www.queenshotelstives.com TOUR 2013

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