Sport Bike Riding in the UK

The Haverhill Run

I could have sworn that Carl Fogarty had been the road developer

WORDS: Luke Dunphy

At least 4 of us showed up every Sunday. It was like clockwork. We usually met on base by 7:00 at the gas station. Other than the chuckles at the insane arrival announcement of Mike’s full race exhaust on his Mille R, it wasn’t until coffees had been sipped and the final yawns had been exhausted that anyone even really spoke to each other.

It was always the same conversation. Where to this time? London? Nottingham (which was the location of the only Hooters restaurant in Britain)? The coast? Donington or Brands Hatch race circuits? There was a plethora of riding havens for a small army of leather-clad sport bikers such as ourselves, but there was one ride which had become our default Sunday morning religion. The Haverhill Run, as we affectionately named the route, is and was an unforgettable, dream-inspiring stretch of faultless pavement from Newmarket to Steeple Bumpstead.

Beginning with gently rolling hills and sharp 90-degree turns weaving between the property lines of wheat farmers, the route quickly became a tight and twisty rollercoaster upon entering a thickly wooded forest. Feet gestures to the riders behind us warned of the few road hazards, sometimes including rather large raptors devouring fresh road kill. The intermittent shadows created by the tunnel of trees overhead created difficult yet exciting challenges to the eyes of each rider, sometimes even creating a strobe light effect on my windshield. Ten miles later, the lone Hayabusa in our unit was rewarded for his efforts with a short stint south on a 4-lane A road. British Police were nonexistent this early on Sundays, so even the big Busa was able to stretch its legs on this road.

We finally arrived at the section of the run that we really came for, virtually free of 4-wheeled cages. Haverhill Road was nearly impossible to find without trying to get lost. Defined by its racetrack-like road surface and steep elevation changes, the snake-like road allowed a constant line of sight through 2 turns ahead and so allowed us to challenge each other into, and out of, many of the tight and twisty turns. Oh, and the chicane! I could have sworn that Carl Fogarty had been the road developer here.

I went down only once in over 25 trips to here, a lowside when my rear tire clipped the sand at the edge of the road at a significant lean angle. I never let go of the clutch and my frameslider took 100% of the damage. I still got my knee to the ground in 2 of the next 3 corners after picking the bike up.

To this day I am still looking for a default ride in my area with even a fraction of the appeal and character of the Haverhill Run. I’m sure there’s a fresh group of riders who utilize the very same gas station, and who chuckle at the audible oncoming of the ridiculously (yet very awesome) loud pipes of Mike’s Mille R, which I’m sure he still has. And no one says much of anything until the coffee has burned the sleep off their tongues and it becomes time to figure out where they’re going. Maybe this Sunday it’ll be the Haverhill Run again. I hope Mike doesn’t email me about it. It took me two years to get it out of my dreams. Then again, maybe I’ll email him today and ask where they rode to this weekend…