Day 1/2/3: 5th/6th/7th April 2022 – London to Burgos, Spain via Plymouth
5th April 2022 – London to Winchester
So… after taking the bike over to Zenith Motorcycles, (https://www.zenithmotorcycles.co.uk), to fit the new boots and giving the wheels a good clean to get the blue coating off it’s finally time to get on the bloomin’ road Pogs!!
By the time I’ve done everything and packed her up it is past 8.30pm, so hopefully I can get at least 2/3 hours under the wheels before pulling up for the night. Plymouth is around 250 miles away so at least 5 hours, even on motorways. I left my garmin GPS in Gibraltar by mistake just under a month ago, (I was over there working), so will have to rely on my android phone and Google Maps for this trip.
Am soon out of London and onto the M40 turning then to the M25 and onto the M3.. all goes ok until…. The M3 is closed at Junction 8, (Winchester), so all vehicles have to leave at Junction 7 and rejoin at Junction 9. This results in an absolute nightmare… never fear I shall explain…
At Junction 7 I leave the motorway as instructed and almost immediately pull over. It is now approaching 11.30pm so time to book a room. I check out ever faithful booking.com and find a hotel just a few miles away from me.
6th April 2022 – Winchester to Plymouth
What I have not realised is that the hotel is actually on the M3 at the currently closed Junction 8 services, OMW; what follows is a 2 hour ride around trying to find an alternative route into the hotel. Google maps is showing me a back road behind the hotel/service area and is routing me to it, however finding this back road is proving to be virtually impossible. Eventually I do find it and start to ride up only to find after about half a mile it deteriorates into a hardened mud pit, the ruts are over a foot deep in places. I don’t know why but I do actually attempt to ride up it, my heart very much in my mouth I can tell you. Surrounded by woods and pitch black, the track gets progressively worse, however I can now see the service area up ahead to the right of me, but find there is no way to get into it as a huge ditch and chain link fence separates me from it. Ok I give up, am not riding any further as I am going to end up having an accident. I gingerly turn the bike around and navigate my way back to the black top.
Making my way back to the M3 I think to myself maybe I can reach the hotel from the East bound carriageway as perhaps there’s a footbridge over the motorway so I could leave the bike and walk over, I mean, there has to be some way to access the hotel otherwise why would I be able to book? I take the A roads down to Junction 9 and ride back to Junction 8 to investigate. It is now coming up 1.30am and I am really fed up I can tell you. At the service area I park the bike up and find that my ride vest, yes the one I ‘lost’ in the States and found run over on the interstate, has fallen off the bike.. again. I can’t fucking believe it, it really has gone this time I think as I have to focus on the immediate problem which is getting to my room for what is left of the night.
I go into the service area and ask a member of staff if it is possible to access the West bound service area and hotel.. nope the only way is via the M3. Ok so I need to cancel the hotel booking, I’m not paying for a room I cannot get to. I try to call the hotel but no one is answering so start an online chat with booking.com explaining the situation and requesting a refund. After much to-ing and fro-ing, which I won’t bore you with, they want to relocate me to another hotel and won’t refund my payment unless the hotel confirms they cannot accommodate me, but of course no one is answering so they insist I must wait 40 minutes for them to attempt to contact the hotel. Even then they persist in trying to relocate me and keep asking me to give them an alternative. I am really, really pissed off with this and eventually I tell them I am not going to pay over £60 for 2-3 hours in a hotel as I have to be back on the road early in the morning so they need to cancel my booking and refund my money now. At 3am they finally agree… I mean, seriously!!
That done I need to decide what next. Well here I am, it’s the middle of the night and a service area, which is very bright and noisy so no chance of any sleep. I immediately decide to go look for my ride vest.. bonkers I know. I think to myself, it must have fallen off during the roller coaster ride down the farm track, but getting to it entails riding back up the M3 turning round, back down the A roads I took to get here in case it fell off somewhere there, crossing over the M3, back up to where the farm track starts and down to where I turned the bike around. All this at a reasonably slow pace, keeping an eye out for a white plastic bag, (the vest is in it).
Eventually I find myself at the start of the farm track. I pull up and park where the black top ends and the rutted track starts, I’m not riding up and down that again I can tell you. It’s still very dark so I leave the headlight on and walk down; once past the extent of the headlight beam am very grateful to have a small LED torch attached to my keys. Nothing, not a plastic bag/vest in sight. I walk back to the bike and have now given it up for lost. I then realise that I haven’t exactly taken the same road to the track so decide to retrace my route from here back to the M3 Junction 7. It is now 5am and dawn is beginning to break. All of sudden… there it is, just sitting in the middle of the road. I pick it up and quickly inspect it to see if it’s been run over again, but all seems to be fine. I take it out of the bag and put it on, no way am I losing it again!
Back on the bike and onto the M3. Junction 8 is now open so am able to ride straight to Plymouth. Stopping to refuel and grab some breakfast I spot some wildlife in the car park
oh do stop moosing around.
I arrive at the docks in plenty of time for the ferry and whilst waiting to board it starts to rain, of course. There is a tea hut just by the lane the bikes are parked in awaiting permission to board so all the bikers are huddled together on the leeward side trying to stay out of the driving rain… what a perfect end to a perfect ride… not!
Once aboard the ferry, it’s up to the cabin and get myself sorted out. I do rest for a couple of hours and then make my way for some food. All good, as Brittany ferries usually are, I have made the crossing on this ship a number of times so know it well.
7th April 2022 – Bay of Biscay to Burgos, Spain
The ferry crossing of the Bay of Biscay is pretty choppy, but do manage to sleep very well, hardly surprising.
We eventually sight land and I can see the beautiful views of the Pyrenees in the distance.
The ship docks by 1pm and am already in the bar area with a few other bikers waiting to be told to make our way down to the bikes. Eventually one of the other bikers gets a phone call, clearly it’s one of his mates asking where he is; it’s only then we realise that everyone has already gone down and we have missed the tannoy. By the time I’ve packed up the bike etc. I am actually the last bike, or maybe even vehicle, off the boat.. through passport control and customs I eventually get out of port at 3.30.
Next I need to cross the Pyrenees, again, and am delighted to say it’s not raining for a change although it is pretty cold I have to say and there is a good amount of snow on the mountain tops and indeed at the side of the higher altitude roads.
As always the views are magnificent
Around 7pm, (6pm UK time, have gone forward an hour now), I am at the outskirts of Burgos so stop and book a room for the night. More wildlife spotted too..
Unbelievably I am not able to ride to the accommodation; it’s right in the heart of the old city. Google maps is routing me to the hotel and I find myself being stared at while riding up what looks very much like a pedestrian only road… I try for 1 1/2 hours to find a route but eventually have to park up and walk in the end, it’s clear to me that the hotel is surrounded by pedestrian only streets, totally ignored in google maps.
Drop the bags and head out for dinner… Pizza of course.