Steamy, Huffy and Grumpy

WRWR Relay Day 15 – My Day 5 Saintes to San Sebastian, Spain

13th March 2019

So this morning we said farewell to Celine and the ride leader position is taken over by Loup (Wolf). Today there are six of us and we must leave at 8.30 am sharp to walk over to the prison to get our bikes. I took the opportuity to get a shot of the Abbey in daylight

And this rather strange and incongruous edifice…

Don’t know what it is and didn’t have time to ask.

A quick walk over the road, pack the bike and we are soon on our way to Spain.

We hit quite a lot of traffic around Bordeaux and a couple of the french girls seem reluctant to filter so we are reduced to riding with the traffic flow… you wouldnt get anywhere in London doing that I have to say. It is also raining pretty heavily too… grrr.

We stop for lunch at a bike training school, a bit strange methinks, but it turns out this is where Loup’s boyfriend works and she has arranged for us to stop there for lunch and to meet a representative from WIMA, (Womens International Motorcycle Association), who would like to take some shots of us. There was also supposed to be a rep from a bike insurance company too but they couldn’t come, they have sent us each a bag of goodies instead.. a pen, keyring, etc.

Loup’s boyfriend (I don’t think we were told his name) takes us in his van to a roadside food van and we order hot food to take back to the school, it is surprisingly good. Then it’s time to get back on the road.. a few of the women are starting to worry about timings.

Suddenly we pull over to the side of the road, Johanna’s bike is seriously overheating and is actually steaming and she says her coolant level is dangerously low. There is a Peugeot garage just a few hundred metres down the road so Jo dashes off to see if they have any coolant she can buy. When she gets back she says the mechanic has offered to take a look at it for her so we all turn around and pull in to their car park.

There ensues quite a lot of discussion and the mechanic calls Triumph, (she rides a Street Triple), but it seems the bike might have a thermostat problem and the only remedy is to take it to a triumph dealer. We start off again with Jo behind Loup in case she needs to stop urgently.

It all seems to be running ok so we carry on through the french countryside on our way to San Sebastian in Spain via Biarritz, a place I have visited before on my travels. At our next stop it seems Jo’s bike has stopped over heating and we put it down to the rain creating steam from the wet header pipes.. oh well, we’ve all done it, the main thing is the bike is ok.. phew!!

We are stopping on a regular hourly basis as I have the arthritic hands and Loup has a knee problem following a serious accident a few years ago. Every time we stop one of the french women huffs and puffs… oh dear, do get over yourself!

Loup is a very nice young woman, extremely chatty and a good rider, she is trying her best to get everyone to speed up as we are falling behind schedule to meet the spanish girls at Harley Davidson in San Sebastian.

At our last stop we have a good break with a coffee and some beignets.. yummy. I have to wait ages to get into the loo and of course I’ve got several layers of clothing to negotiate and by the time I get outside everyone is waiting. I did want to ring home quickly as I am quite worried about my partner who is very unwell. Next thing the small grumpy french woman comes over and, for someone who looks away when I speak to her I always assumed because she doesnt speak english, says to me to hurry up! Well, I am not best pleased.. I have said on more than one occasion that they do not need to wait fot me I will catch them up or go my own way and meet them there so I repeat this and say it’s not just me who is making everyone late.. meaning her not wanting to speed up or overtake on her shiny GS wth all the new gear… ahem!!

This puts me in a bad humour and wishing I could just go my own way, but Loup insists, rightly, that we all stay together, we are a team… ok.

I then rush to get ready and once we are underway realise I haven’t zipped up my rain jacket which is flapping about me. Every time we stop at traffic lights I try to do it up, but its a double zip which is near impossible to get started with gloves on, so after a few attempts I try without gloves, but the lights change so quickly that I don’t have enough time so in the end I just pull over to do it. The rest of the riders carry on, but I’m not worried as I know we are heading south and there are already sign posts for San Sebastian so I can soon catch them up. Just at Biarritz I do catch them, they are on the other side of the road having turned around so I go around the roundabout and back up to meet them. Just as we are pulling away Jo’s bike dies.. it just won’t restart and it is clear there is an electrical problem.

We try everything we can think of, bump starting.. nope, battery jump from a starter pack.. nope, check out the earth connection we can find.. nope, so Loup and Jo start making phone calls, Jo to her insurer to check if she has european breakdown cover and Loup to Triumph Biarritz. Now the french women are really moaning and so it is agreed to split the group, Loup and I will stay with Jo and the rest will continue to San Sebastian… and they didn’t even bother to say goodbye… seriously!!

A few moments later a van pulls up with two men who are also bikers offering to help. They take a look at the bike and also attempt a jump start but still no go, so they offer to drive over to Triumph and get them to come out. Meanwhile it seems Jo doesnt have any breakdown cover at all and they want 250 pounds before she can even get a call out, bloody expensive. Never, ever go abroad without european breakdown cover, as much as you can afford because you never know and it can end up costing a fortune. Anyway, the two french guys return and it seems Triumph are just closing but they are open again at 9am. It’s agreed that they will push the bike into a safe place and we will book into a hotel for the night. Loup manages to find a hotel near to the Triumph dealership and its very cheap so I take Jo’s luggage and Loup gives her a lift over to the hotel.

The room is fine, not luxurious but adequate so all is good. We have a nice meal and I sleep quite well, despite some rather noisy neighbours… bah humbug!!

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