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I need to get myself from West London to Marlborough on Saturday and I have a bit of time so I thought why not ride it? But it looks like the only direct-ish route is the A4. Has anyone ridden it recently? Am desperate not to cave in and go in the car. Safety's obviously a relative concept - should I be worried about this one or just get on with it?

12 comments

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Max_Leonard [18 posts] 2 years ago
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I cycled it pretty recently to go from London to Bristol; I avoided the A4 immediately out of London and picked it up before Slough. Some of it is dual carriageway, but not much. Never felt unsafe. I would say it's fine!

http://app.strava.com/activities/82651291

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tommygarland [15 posts] 2 years ago
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Personally, I would stay south of A4 and do something like Windsor > Twyford > Woodley > Earley > Burghfield Common > Headley > Highclere > East Woodhay > West Woodhay > Inkpen > Shalbourne > Great Bedwyn > Marlborough. Haven't got an actual route for you as did it pre- Garmin but nicer than A4 as you see a few villages and a bit quieter, Although A4 is fast riding so depends what you want really!

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Rushie [38 posts] 2 years ago
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Max, many thanks for the advice and the Garmin route. That's a fair old ride you did... If you're happy with the safety aspect I think I might just give it a go.

Tommy, thanks for the suggestion. Will give the A4 a go but if I'm feeling a little exposed I'll come off at Aldermaston and pick your route up there.

Best

Steve

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Colin Peyresourde [1636 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah, there are lots of parts of the A4 which are not particularly dangerous. Cannot say I've ridden that distance, but since it runs parallel with the M4 most heavy traffic uses that.

I would do what Tommy says though and use the routes from town to town.

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Metjas [359 posts] 2 years ago
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A4 is a terrible route. I have cycled it from London to Reading and to be honest I'd rather be in the car than on my bike. As Tommy has described, the alternative route will take you through some beautiful countryside and villages if you plan carefully, and you'll arrive refreshed and smiling, rather than just thankful you've not been hit by a car  1

And make sure you ride up Walbury Hill near Inkpen to get an amazing view of the Downs!

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SideBurn [890 posts] 2 years ago
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I once rode from Reading to Bristol and back on the A4 and it was a great ride. This was some time ago so my opinion is a bit out of date but the bit from Reading onwards was fine. Definitely do it though (if the forum says it is still reasonably safe) you will feel bad if you give in to the lure of the car. Any chance you can report back what happens?

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Rushie [38 posts] 2 years ago
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Yes, Sideburn, will report back. Planning to join the A4 at Reading after A329 and then will duck out at Aldermaston if not enjoying it. Thanks for the tip Metjas - will see how the weather/time/safety goes and if I do duck out will def go via Walbury Hill.

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Colin Peyresourde [1636 posts] 2 years ago
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Rushie wrote:

Yes, Sideburn, will report back. Planning to join the A4 at Reading after A329 and then will duck out at Aldermaston if not enjoying it. Thanks for the tip Metjas - will see how the weather/time/safety goes and if I do duck out will def go via Walbury Hill.

Slightly confused - A329 from Wokingham to London is a motorway....you're best off avoiding that section.

Just thought I would mention that in case you were planning on using that section.

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fatbeggaronabike [759 posts] 2 years ago
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Once past heathrow turn left through Longford across stanwell moor Rd at roundabout into poyle then right where the road turns 90 degrees left onto colnbrook through village back to A4/M4 junc, left takes you into Datchet then Eton over moor to A4 just b4 M/head once in M/head take left by police stn then follow signs to rly stn under rly bridge then right takes you to Twyford then A4 through Reading.
Once you get to theale go right (towards Pangbourne) then left past deer park then left past wayland's smithy into bradfield over common this then brings you down onto the A4 at Thatcham.

After then my knowledge of the roads to use ceases, I wish you well whichever way you go please post back and tell us how you got on, best wishes

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Rushie [38 posts] 2 years ago
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I suppose the question is really - "did I feel unsafe?" and the answer is definitely "no". I joined the A4 at Reading and as soon as you're out of town the majority of traffic peels off to the M4 and you're left with wide carriageways and not many vehicles. The surface isn't great and it's a little exposed so you will notice a headwind fairly quickly (note - that's 2 excuses got in nice and early...). But it's fairly flat, fairly fast and there are actually one or two nice views. I noticed only 1 HGV and that gave me a nice wide berth, perhaps since I'd done myself a couple of favours in strategic flouro and a bright flashing rear light. Certainly this section of the A4 is much safer than the A329 round Ascot and Bracknell where the lanes are narrow and the 4WDs really aren't budging. Piles of conkers in the road didn't help on this section either - thank heavens for Gatorskins. As Colin notes, the A329 (M) between Bracknell and the M4 is motorway so can't be ridden but the A329 itself dives off left towards Wokingham and Winnersh so you're fine.

Here's the route:

http://www.strava.com/activities/89992232

So I'd say if you have time to spare, the scenic route as described by Tommy above is the one to take. But if you don't, the A4 between Reading & Marlborough is absolutely fine. Many thanks all for your advice.

Steve

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Edgeley [261 posts] 2 years ago
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I wouldn't do it myself. I think train to Reading, with bike, to avoid the horrible journey out of London. And then north of the M4 through the nice hills to just north of Newbury, and then B4000 to Ramsbury and then small roads down to Marlborough. Prettier. With hills.

It will be into the wind most days of the year.

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monty dog [446 posts] 2 years ago
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As someone who rides that way regularly, the A4 might feel relatively quiet or safe to someone less familiar with the area, but you're denying yourself from nicer, quieter roads nearby. Certainly there are nicer routes around the top of Reading via Twford or drop south via Arborfield, Mortimer, Aldermaston towards Newbury.