KTM RC8R vs. Corby Glen

Highway to Heaven: Six bikes, six roads, six twats, six stories. Ben Cope knows the score. But not even the supreme skills of ace lensman Paul Bryant could make this internet millionaire look any good

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The trouble with asking people for their favourite road is that it’s a bit like asking a kid exactly what he’d buy with a crisp £50 at the local pic ’n’ mix. The wish list will be varied, endless and ...never going to happen.

This is England, where undulating valley roads with perfect tarmac and plenty of visibility, not much traffic and breathtaking sights are as common as being killed by a giant Sherbet Dip Dab.

The Corby Glen road runs between Loughborough and Spalding. And I know that’s like having a picture of Mo Mowlam on the billing for a regional beauty contest but stick with me, this road is a belter.

The total stretch is around 50 miles and any route planner will tell you that it’ll take one and a half hours to do. Try half that time and you’d be closer to the mark, which is why it makes this a textbook road for those who like their blasts exactly that: short, sharp and punctuated. We don’t all have a weekend to spare for a pilgrimage to bow down to a ribbon of tarmac in a far away corner of the land.

I’ve ridden some beautiful roads around the UK, in locations like North Wales, The Lakes, Scotland and Devon, but the problem with these picture postcard roads is that they’re like going to a gig and sitting through endless rubbish bands before the one you came to see come on and play a mediocre set. Unless conditions are perfect, the famous roads can often be a let down. The good bits are all too often obscured by farmyard muck and caravans strewn across the road.

The Corby Glen road is the opposite. Like a series of highlights from a boxing match, the route is broken up into small sections  punctuated by sleepy villages that require you to slow down to 30, stretch your legs and prepare for the next challenge.

Infact, you wouldn’t think this road scores many points at all; it’s not picturesque, in places the road surface looks like its been around since the era of John Loudon MacAdam and there are plenty of tight corners that can – and often do – catch you out. If you head there at lunch time on a Sunday, forget it. You’ll be tangled in a web of grannies doing 25mph, people carriers with kids pulling faces out of the back window and bikers who look like they’ve downed half a bottle of Jack Daniels before heading out. Get there just after sunrise for the best screening of this hour long epic.

In sections, this road feels like the TT; it’s fast, bumpy and – on the face of it – it doesn’t look like much, but at the right speed it requires the utmost respect and concentration. It draws you in. Especially if you’re on a bike as fiery and rabid as the KTM RC8R. Its diagnosably insane engine bursts through the rev range and racks up stupid speeds with ease. It’s a good job it scrubs speed off with the subtlety of an uppercut or you’d be in trouble.

This is no road where you get time to check out your speedo to slot in an errant bit of self-congratulation either. The phrase ‘you get out what you put in’ was made for the Corby Glen road.

It’s a good job someone built villages along this amazing stretch to remind you to soak up what would otherwise be too savage an assault on your senses.