Playing Footsie with the ‘Nees

Day 3 – 3rd July 2020 – Santander to Allué

As usual it took quite some time to pack up the bike this morning.  I know from experience that this will get quicker, everything will find its place and will remain in that bag for the rest of the trip; it’s a process.

It was raining quite heavily through the night and into this morning, but it soon reduced to a drizzle and stopped briefly.  During the evening I had looked on google for a motorcycle shop nearby and there is one just around the corner.  I plan to take Minnie there this morning and ask them to adjust the pre-load.  This is something I should have done, which would have meant I could bring the camping gear, so I’m really kicking myself.  I have ridden Harleys for so long now that all this basic stuff has left my poor old brain.  Harleys have progressive suspension, which means they adjust automatically to the weight on the bike, no need for manual adjustment.  Hence me not even thinking about this for the Himmie… grrrr and double grrrrrr.  I did consider having the stuff sent to Sardinia, but the cost is exorbitant and it really is too much hassle.

I find the motorcycle place no problem and the young woman and 2 guys there are wonderful, they immediately set to work adjusting the shock.  It was set from factory at number 3 so I have had it put on 5 with 2 more stops available if needed.  They would not accept any payment, which is just fabulous, however I did force them to take €10 for tres cerveza, it just didn’t feel right not giving them anything.  Another mental arse kicking for me, I didn’t take any photos, but huge shout out for Motos Kory in Santander.

Minnie is a much happier bunnie now, the front feels definitely more ‘planted’ so I am very relieved… I was beginning to hate her a wee bit and miss my Harley, but all is forgiven.

So it is just under 700kms to Barcelona and I have to be there by about 8pm tomorrow.  It is now 11.30am and I am still in Santander!  I plan to ride about half way today so 350ish kms.  It will be quite slow in places because it will include some twisties as I pass through the foothills of the Pyrenees.  The road is very busy, especially with lorries coming off the ferries and avoiding the toll roads.  I am starting to feel hungry and haven’t even had a cup of coffee, which is unheard of I can tell you.  I plan to ride a quarter of the way before stopping for lunch so 175kms.. well, thats the plan.  I do need to stop for petrol, there is no self-service at the moment due to Covid so a chap fills up for me.  I have fitted a Guglatech filter into the tank, it’s basically a bag that slides into the tank via the fuel filler hole and extra strong magnets hold it in position in the neck of the hole.  However, the tank on the Himmie has a very high tunnel where it sits on the frame so there is only a small gap each side of this to add petrol, about 20mm.  The fuel filter now makes filling up a chore and it takes forever, which is a bit embarrassing when neither of you can speak each others language… after an excruciating few minutes I tell him to stop.  I’m going to remove the filter at the next petrol stop, it really isn’t needed in Europe, it’s mostly for the really bad fuel that you get in the Stans, if I ever get there.

Back on the road and up into the Pyrenean foothills.. the weather is pretty grim.

Soon after this I am on a faster road and the mirrors decide to twirl again.. so fed up… I pull over to sort them out.  Then it happens again, and again.. these mirrors are going to have to be sorted out permanently or I am going to have to get some other ones.  Basically I bought mirrors that are for off roading, they fold in if you drop the bike.  However they have a ball end that fits into a Ram mount socket arm, but the ball on the end of the mirror is too small.  I have packed them out with a couple of rubber washers but it just isn’t doing the trick so I need to give this some more thought.

I am really quite cold, so on one of the mirror stops I put my jacket liner in… much better.

At around 170kms I pull in for petrol and right next door is a restaurant.  It’s actually a truck stop, but is open for business and serving hot food.  I go in and order a cafe con leche first of course and then am stuck for food as my usual Lomo just gets a blank from the waitress so I just order a plate of patatas fritas.  She comes back with a huge plate but I eat what I can and order a second coffee.

Before getting back on the bike I attempt to sort out the mirrors.  The right one seems to be behaving itself but the left one needs something so I think I’ll try some gaffa tape on the ball to stop it from moving, anything is worth a try.  It doesn’t last though the mirror is still moving… sigh!

The next section is really windy, but after Utah I’m not bothered about this.  The weather soon brightens up and suddenly I am riding beside a beautiful blue lake… I stop for photos of course.

I also take the opportunity to remove the jacket liners and take off a layer or two as the temp gauge is reading 27/28 degrees now, so very warm.

I just carry on and can see the Pyrenees themselves, still with snow on, in the distance.

I soon arrive in Jaca which is roughly the half-way point so I stop to find accommodation for the night.  I see plenty of campsites and would have camped here overnight, but that’s not going to happen now so try and look for a good place to stay at a reasonable price.  Good old comes up trumps with a place just 26kms away for £30 so I make my way there.

Suddenly I am going up a very twisty road and my phone keeps ringing.   The road seems to lead up to the pension, Casa Vera so I stop to check my phone.  It has stopped ringing now… umm ok I decide to carry on… but… I have put the bike on the side stand, not realising it is a slope and the road is going upwards so I have to hold the front brake while trying to lift the bike off the stand… impossible.  However hard I try to throw myself to the right the bike won’t budge… bloody hell, what am I going to do.  Just then a car pulls up beside me.  The man asks

‘are you staying at Casa Vera..’

‘yes, but…’

‘Oh I am Gilbert, it is my house, did you get my message?’

‘No, I haven’t.. but..’

‘OK you follow me’

‘No, No I can’t… I can’t pick the bike up.. can you give me a hand please?’

‘Oh yes’, he jumps out of his car… how lucky that he came along and can speak English. I ask him to push me to the right, he grabs the bike and pushes too hard, I almost drop the bike to the right…

‘No No No, I can’t hold it, it’s too heavy, please pull me back’

‘What, what you want me to do, I don’t understand’

Now I am barely able to hold the bike up, my foot is on tip-toe and the bike is almost winning…

‘Pull me back… left… no back.. back that way.. omg I’m going to drop it…’

Gilbert is just holding the bike so I cannot get it upright or over to the left… I am panicking…

‘What you want me to do, I don’t understand’

I am afraid he is going to let go and then I will definitely drop it.  He suddenly pulls me back over to the left and I almost drop it on his car…

‘No, back… I need to put it in gear’

This carries on for what feels like ages until at last I get him to hold the bike level while I turn it on and put it in gear…. I am in such a state my hand it glued to the throttle and the engine is racing*.. the bike cuts out and tries to dive to the right again, so I am back in the same position just barely holding on and keeping the bike off the ground while trying to get poor Gilbert to help me in a language he doesn’t understand… oh how I wish I knew the Spanish for left and right.  We go through this rigmarole again with me becoming more and more hysterical… at last I am able to get it started and in gear again.  I manage to wobble up the hill a little way and then am riding it properly, following Gilbert up through several hairpins into a gravel parking area outside Casa Vera.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am to be getting off this fucking bike!!!

*I have what is called a functional tremor, which means that when I get very stressed or shocked or indeed angry my right arm and leg shake and it can be quite extreme.. hence the revving of the throttle.

Gilbert is so sweet, I can’t thank him enough.  He says you are a small woman for such a big heavy bike… yes I agree, although it is a fraction of the weight of the Harleys, the high centre of gravity means it is very difficult to pull upright if it starts to go over.

He also says he was ringing me to tell me he doesn’t have a room for me… but now I am here do not worry he has found something for me.  Oh, ok.. well thank you.  TBH I am not in any fit state to be riding off to find something else after all that drama.

He tells me he is now going fishing with his pal and will return around 10pm, so we will not eat until 11… if I want to eat that is.. oh yes please, I don’t want to ride tonight or starve so that will be fabulous.

Casa Vera is very beautiful, in a rustic way.  It is all on its own surrounded by the most fantastic scenery.


Here is today’s ride:


Gilbert returns from fishing and cooks up a feast for his guests… I really enjoy the meal and am sitting with Gilbert and a french couple… they are all mad fly fishers and talk in french most of the time. I discover that G is actually french, wish I’d known that earlier, I might have had some inspiration for how to tell him ‘back the other way’ in French, but highly unlikely.



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