WRWR Relay Day 16 – My Day 6 Biarritz to Gijon, Spain
14th March 2019
Just after 9 am we make our way a short ride up the road to the Triumph dealership. It’s raining quite hard this morning, but soon stops. I wait outside with my bike while Jo and Loup go in to talk to the triumph people. Before long a van turns up with Jo’s bike inside.. wow that was quick!!
After a bit of hanging around the upshot is that they think it’s the battery, so they will replace it and the dodgy key module that’s hanging off the bike. (The bike was stolen and the toe rags broke the key barrel to start the bike so Jo had a replacement put on, but its not the right one). These seem quite straightforward fixes, they are also going to repair her rear light which doesn’t work properly, but they cannot get to her bike until about 3pm.
I can’t wait until then as I want to catch up with the relay. Loup is going to stay with Jo so she won’t be alone, what a star.
I bid the girls farewell and head back to the hotel to get my luggage. While I’m finishing packing I hear Loup’s bike returning so once I have packed she and Jo come out to wave me off. It’s now getting on for 12 o’clock so I really need to get going, its a long way to ride. The first possible catch up point is in Llanes where the Spanish are stopping for lunch and some sort of civic reception. They are planning to be there from around 2pm to 4/5pm so it might be possible to get to them before they leave… better see how it goes.
Just before I leave I message Mar, the WRWR Ambassador for the northern Spain routes to say I am on my way. She replies to head for the Civic Hall in LLanes, but Google maps is saying 355kms avoiding toll roads. My GPS won’t route in Spain, I forgot to download the map…oops! It’s ok as I have my iPhone so can use google maps to navigate. Its also saying 4 and half hours, but that doesn’t include stops for lunch and petrol so its unlikely that I will be able to catch them before Dijon.
On the way out of Biarritz I stop to capture the rolling surf, bit wild and woolly indeed.
The road starts to climb upwards and I pass through several tunnels cut through the mountains. The scenery is fantastic and before long I find myself in Spain having passed through the border without noticing. I do however see a sign telling me I am now in ‘Basque Country’, this makes me think about ETA and the Basque separatist movement… mmm I wonder what happened to that??
Soon after this I’m feeling hungry so I stop at a roadside service area and restaurant.
I order a standard portion pork baguette, (lomo boccadillo) with a few chips, milky coffee and I want some orange juice and am feeling proud that I managed to ask for it all in Spanish.. except the chap is laughing because I got the orange the wrong way round, I said Naranja de Zumo and he tells me it should be Zumo de Naranja… oh well at least I tried.
The sandwich comes and of course it is absolutely enormous… I can only manage half, but what value for money.. all of that came to just under €10, brilliant.
There are always cabinets with loads of tut, but also knives of all shapes and sizes, however this is just batshit crazy… anyone can buy these for just €25, absolutely bonkers!
So back on the road and am now riding along the wild coast of the Bay of Biscay.. really beautiful, I’ll have to organise a club ride here sometime.
With 250kms to go to Gijon I message Mar again to let her know where I am and ask where to meet with the group in Gijon.
I carry on riding and am in a great deal of pain with my hands as I don’t want to keep stopping… It would be wonderful to actually have a broomstick at this stage I can tell you.
My next stop is around 100kms from Gijon and there is no response from Mar. Ok so I message Colette, the Australian woman, to say I’m 100kms away and can she ask Mar to let me know where I need to go when I arrive at Gijon.
I arrive on the outskirts of Gijon at around 6pm.. park up and check my phone.. nothing, so what to do? I try phoning, no answer. I think that maybe they are in a no phone signal area as I know my phone is ok, (I have messages from other people), but I put a message on the group chat anyway to see if there are indeed any problems. Joanna, the French ambassador, replies that she will try and get in touch with Mar via What’s App. This is bloody ridiculous, I’m part of this leg group and I expect the group leader to at least wonder where I am and if I’m ok and to make arrangements to meet me, but silence. Am getting very pissed off at this point; I’ve ridden long and hard to get here, am in considerable pain and I’m exhausted.
After a further 5 minutes without any contact its out with my trusty booking.com app and I start looking for somewhere to stay. I find a pension in the centre of Gijon for €35 and book it.
I arrive at the pension, it’s in the middle of the city so I have to park in the street. The pension is in an apartment building with huge wrought iron gates, very grand, very dark!! Mmmm looks shut… I try the bell, no answer… oh stop it!
I look at the booking and there is a phone number so I try calling. A woman answers and says she will be there in 5 minutes… and she is.
The pension is excellent, very arty, and the woman couldn’t be nicer or more helpful. It seems I am the only guest! The room is great and there is a kitchen next door with a small sitting area very tastefully arranged. I can help myself to tea, coffee, toast etc etc, all very nice. She gets a small map of the city centre and marks out good places to eat and visit. She then asks why I’m in Gijon so I tell her all about the WRWR of course. She thinks it’s great and asks to take a photo of me… yes no problem,
What a gem this place is, I’m already thinking I must come back to stay here again and explore Gijon properly. The woman gives me my keys and tells me just to drop them on her desk in the morning and then she’s gone and I’m all alone.
I change quickly and go out to find the restaurant she particularly recommends. I’m now thinking I don’t want to meet up with the group, in fact I feel like maybe spending another day here then heading straight to Gibraltar. Today has really taken the shine off the whole event for me; I mean it has been very hard going, not only the riding but also being in groups with riders who don’t really follow group riding rules, which makes the riding harder always having to change position to ensure a clear ‘escape route’ ahead. (It is usual to ride in staggered formation so that if something untoward happens you don’t plough into the bike in front) but some of the riders are sucking the tailpipe of the bike in front, moving from side to side across the width of the road to follow the ‘correct’ line, which is what you do when riding solo at speed, and riding a bit too close so it makes for greater concentration when following.
I call home and chat with my partner and in the end am almost sure I’m not going to continue with the relay. Just then my phone rings and it is Colette, she asks me where I am and explains that they have only just arrived having been feted and escorted to various photos ops and media events in Llanes and they are now in a bar so I could come over and meet with them in this biker bar. I mean seriously, I really expected Mar to call me and arrange to meet up with me or at least to check I am ok and sorted out, but instead it is Colette and I’m expected to want to get on my bike and ride over to some hairy arsed biker bar at this time of night… err no thanks.
I tell Colette that I’m not best pleased, but can someone send me the meet point and time for the morning and I’ll see how I feel, but don’t wait for me. On reflection I think I was being a bit of a diva but who cares. Anyway, 5 minutes later and my phone goes again, it’s Mar at last, but I am just about to enter the restaurant so I think I’ll just let it ring and call her back in a few minutes.
The restaurant has a long bar and there is a bar tender just about to pour Sidre from above his head into a glass.. oh I love this. I take a stool at the bar and ask him for a small glass of Sidre, just as he is about to pour I ask if I can film him…
Fantastic… I take the opportunity to tell him about the first time I saw this and to ask why they don’t drink the last few mm? He explains that this is to clean or clear the lip of the glass for the next sip.. mmm interesting. I ask for the menu and just as I am ordering Mar calls again so I message to say I will call her back in 5 minutes.
I give her a call and she is very apologetic and asks where I am; well I’m in Gijon but where exactly I don’t know so I put her on speaker and ask the bar man where are we? He explains to Mar and she says it’s not too far so she will come and meet me, she has a bed for me so I don’t need to pay for a room. I tell her that I am already sorted so no need to come. I’m not sure if it’s the language barrier but after the 3rd time telling her I already have paid for a room I begin to suspect she is drunk! She apologises again, several times and we leave it that I will be at the meeting point at 9am.
My food comes, it’s very good and I have one last shot of Sidre, also very good but the pouring palaver is just the best.
I make my way back to the pension and hope for a good nights sleep.