Alun Davies Spends His Sunday Mornings In The Fast Lane

Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed and carefully nursed a Sunday morning habit. Following breakfast, I clear the kitchen table, make a fresh cup of coffee and spread out a local OS Map. If you’ve ever wondered how I manage to maintain such a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, just keep reading.

After carefully stirring the coffee, I painstakingly study the maze of contour lines, woodlands, dismantled railways, country lanes and river courses for a feature that tugs my curiosity level to the point where I shout something like, ‘right, that’s it, I’m off to discover the medieval village of Lower Ditchford!’ Crazy stuff, eh?

Anyway, the kind of place that grabs my attention is usually, but not always, local and displayed on the OS Map in a curious old English font. The medieval village of Lower Ditchford is a good example, as is the Madmarston Hill Fort just off the B4035 near Banbury.

The next step is to fire up the bike and find out just what the hell’s going down in the medieval village of Lower Ditchford or up in the old hillfort. Most of the time there’s a couple of cows, maybe sheep, chomping away in a field with a few depressions or raised mounds which suggest that, at some point in history, other things happened there. It’s a pulsating, high energy pursuit and you really should give it a go.


PRICE: £9,599
745cc parallel twin

TORQUE: 50.14ftlb @ 4,750rpm

GEARBOX: Six-speed auto
41mm upside down forks

TYRES: Front; 120/70 17. Rear; 160/60 15

WEIGHT: 238kg kerb

77 (claimed)

Of late, these Sunday morning rideouts have been aboard the Honda X-ADV, and I’m becoming more attached by the day. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating; whilst I still gain huge pleasure from riding a larger capacity machine with 100-plus bhp, I’m finding the calming effect of tootling around on a less powerful bike becoming more appealing.

The X-ADV engine is basically the same 745cc liquid-cooled unit as found in the Honda NC750x. It pumps out 54bhp, though Honda decided to throw in a few hundred more rpm to help with the extra weight of the portly adventure scooter.

Don’t get me wrong here, give this machine some gas and it’ll move sharply and quick enough for most, but it’s also an engine that feels comfortable to ride at slower speeds. It doesn’t have that ‘let me off the leash’ feeling that comes with more potent machines.

Better still, I’ve been getting about 70mpg when out and about on these Sunday morning discovery rides, and whilst I’ve never been a rider who’s bought a bike for its frugal characteristics, I’m more than happy to keep the cash in my pocket.

But enough of that, I’ve just spotted a feature on the OS map called Grim’s Ditch. I just can’t get enough of living life on the edge.