This is the original HOG trip I took in 2007 to Fuengirola in Spain to attend the European HOG Rally. Content has been transferred from an old blog site, so unfortuately am not able to retrieve the comments people left at the time… :-((
Wednesday 6th June 2007 – Countdown to D-Day
Just 9 days to go before I leave on the Big HOG Adventure. Am just putting the finishing touches to the Phattie and then only the packing to do ready to leave early on the 15th to catch the euro-tunnel train at mid-day. The only accommodation that I have pre-booked is in Fuengirola for the HOG Rally; other than that it’s stop where and when I want. Will be finalising the outline itinerary tomorrow and trying to brush up my very poor French and miniscule Spanish…. oh dear!
Friday 8th June 2007 – 7 Days to GO
Have finalised the proposed itinerary as follows….
15th London via Folkestone 73 miles
through the Channel Tunnel to Calais and on to Orléans – 270 miles
16th Orléans to Limoges – 170 miles
17th Limoges to Toulouse – 190 miles
18th Toulouse to Tarragona via Andorra – 280 miles
19th Tarragona to Cartegena – 370 miles
20th Cartegena to Fuengirola – 290 miles
Fuengirola to Gibraltar (Day Trip) 135 miles return
25th Fuengirola to Madrid – 350 miles
26th Madrid to Pamplona – 270 miles
27th Pamplona to La Rochelle – 320 miles
28th La Rochelle to Caen via St Nazaire – 370 miles
29th Spend the day visiting the Normandy beaches
30th Caen to Calais – 250 miles
1st July Calais to London via Folkestone – 73 miles
Dates on the return legs are flexible as have allowed an extra day in case of unforseen hitches or I just decide to stay somewhere a little longer. All the mileages are approximate, and as I can please myself where I go, they are open to chance.
So, that was the plan…. to see the actual route I took click here Route Map 2007
Wednesday 13th June 2007 – Less than a day to GO… Alfie t’Rescue!!
Bike decides on a non-cooperation policy at the very last minute so…
Have to see what I can do….
Nope… give up… errr Alf????
Huge thanks, (yet again), to Alf and Anni for the support…. thanks also to Anni for taking the photos.
Thursday 14th June 2007 – 15 hours to GO…
HELP!! 15 hours to go and still have a few little chromey thingys to put on… bah! Alfie where are you?
Just some general tightening up, last minute oil checks and dramas of course…
Gathered the tool roll, extra oil, extra spark plugs etc. So really just the last bits of packing to do before I head off into the sunrise to get the train at Folkestone. Have to be there for 11.30 so am giving myself plenty of time.
Next thrilling installment should be from Orléans, so see you there.
Friday 15th June 2007 – Day One…. What a Corker!!!
As with all good ideas, they’re bound to go wrong! The plan was to leave at 8.30 but at 9.15 just as I was getting out of the shower, I was beginning to panic. Don’t think I was festering in my pit; oh no… up at 7am but, it was all downhill from there. Now I know you purists will be disgusted to read this but, my GPS was playing up and I could not get the maps of France and Spain to load so decided, to hell with it, I’ll buy a map on the way. Loaded up ready to go, then hit the shower, (naughty shower).
Left at 9.40 out of the road turn left, turn right up to Manor House tube and then left onto Seven Sisters Road. 200yds later and the luggage decides to slide off. Quick emergency stop at the side of the road – unpack/repack and nail it down and we’re off again.
Fantastic weather… lovely sunshine, clear road through the Blackwall Tunnel and onto the M20 heading for Folkestone and the Chunnel.
About 30 miles from the Chunnel had to switch to reserve tank, (no time to fuel up given the late start), praying for a petrol station but the only one I saw was just for lorries… umm! Nevermind, made it with time to spare and luckily they were running 30 minutes behind schedule. Was very surprised to find the don’t have a petrol station there but, was told can fuel up in Calais just 1 mile from the terminus. After about a 20 minute wait it was time to board the train, started her up and drove towards the embarkation point…cough, pop, bang, silence… oops! no petrol… dry as a bone, she ain’t going anywhere.
Shit! I only needed one more mile.
Thank you to the lovely Eurotunnel staff who obviously have this happen all the time… especially
Graham who brought 5 litres to get me going, whew!
So it’s bibi sunny Britain,
Europe here we come…
…lashing it down as we pulled into Calais.. oh quelle surprise!
It was now 2pm or 3pm in France, (I forgot about the time going forward 1 hour), but managed to find the petrol station and fill her up.
The rain had stopped now so decided it was time to get lost.. yep no GPS no sense of direction equals L.O.S.T; ended up on a motorway going in the wrong direction. Whilst the plan was to go to Orléans, this road was going to Reims or Paris no no no don’t want that and then the next thing…
the heavens opened…
throwing it down, hailstones the lot! Ow they hurt. Eventually managed to get the GPS half working and got off the Reims/Paris road onto a D road going west… that’s more like it and the sun came out again; well briefly.
So where am I you ask… well indeed…. not in Orléans that’s for sure…
After getting lost a couple more times… drenched twice more and paying two tolls I have finally arrived in…. Rouen…
at 10pm french time and just blown 1/3rd the accommo budget on the first hotel I saw… what the hell!
Here’s a bit of video I found….
Am I tired? Yep, exhausted.
Have I enjoyed it? Bloody fantastic.. even the sodding hailstones.
Onward and upward, (or downward actually), skip Orléans and on to Limoges… we live to ride another day; can’t wait.
Saturday 16th June 2007 – Day Two – Limoges… just a hop, skip and a £*@!
Up fairly early to get a good start on the long journey to Limoges. Looked out the window; beautiful sunshine. Got the bike out of the underground garage ready to load her up and realised the front of the seat had worked itself loose, so out with the humungus tool roll, (now where did I put that kitchen sink?), lots of red loctite will sort that out. Reconnected the earth wire for the GPS while I was at it so that’ll save money on batteries… ho hum.
Just as I finished loading her up the rain started again… thought I was going to get away with it… nevermind.
Managed to visit the less salubrious areas of Rouen thanks to the GPS being unable to find its way out of the town… unfortunately it doesn’t have any detailed info so can’t search on addresses only cities, so it’s a bit hit and miss.. well, mostly miss but makes for very interesting detours.
Finally got out of Rouen, still raining of course. Started heading for Limoges but the GPS wanted to take me to Paris, (maybe it had a hot date… actually I used to know a bar in Paris called Moustaches or something… oh sorry back to the story), so I took command and changed onto another road going towards Evreux then onto the N154 heading South. Pitched up in a little town called Nonancourt and by now the sun was shining. I turned a corner and came upon a beautiful town square..
Lovely little café… oops don’t speak English or Irish, (well my Irish is English with a very suss Kerry accent)… oh dear have to resort to pointing and sign language, (luckily I’m quite good at that), so ended up with a delicious omelette and of course the ubiquitous frites and salad, crepes to follow with coffee… gosh this is the life.
Also had a surprise phone call from Alfie and Anni… it was really lovely to hear from you both… thanks x
Back on the road heading down towards Chartres…
Now you remember yesterdays hailstones don’t you? Can better that… tornado!! I kid you not, I literally rode through the worst weather I have ever encountered in 25 years biking… I actually had to stop and sit in it, it was so bad. I was on my way, following the GPS, through the villages and miles of wheat fields, when on my right I spied the biggest, blackest clump of clouds, hanging only a few hundred yards off the deck and, even at that distance, I could actually see the sheets of rain falling. Oooo look at that, I thought, thank god it’s over there; at which point the road started to bend to the right. Literally within minutes I was in it… the wind was bending the trees along the side of the road and the bike was all over the place… couldn’t see a thing and the pain of the hailstones in my face was practically unbearable. After the bike started to be pushed into the oncoming traffic and I could not see anything in front of me, I decided to pull over and hope it would pass – no such luck.. waited a few minutes and pulled off again riding very slowly with the flashers on… gosh that was scarey!! But, of course dear reader, I survived… this is such fun!!! should’ve done it years ago.
Onto Chartres… beautiful town… no piccies I’m afraid as after the delicious omlette and tornado chaser I just had to find la toilette… nope there are no la toilettes in Chartres, (well I’m sure there are but I couldn’t find em) so keep going…
Who needs motorways????
Arrived at Chateauroux but starting to get late… still almost 100 miles to go to Limoges… shall I stop here I wonder???
Nah… keep going and take the motorway, it’ll be quicker.. HA!
Arrived at 10.30pm, exhausted… pulled off and found a Formula 1 hotel… interesting… but clean and CHEAP! hooray.
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings…. watch this space!
Sunday 17th June 2007 – Day Three – In the Doordogknee
Or the Dordogne for you posh french speakers…
Up early… again… Cor my nose is sore… ugh! belisha beacon or what; thats wind burn for you cos there certainly wasn’t enough sun to turn it that colour!!
Rightho there’s a HD dealers here so better spruce the baby up! Well, clean the millions of squashed bugs off the front and wipe the chrome over… have to say she scrubbed up pretty good for a phat lass.
Surprise, surprise… I’m just one junction away from the dealership. Loaded her up and I’m on my way… where the %&*£ is it… hidden away in the undergrowth I find the Limoges dealership… shut! Shit, it’s Sunday and it’s France, (tres civilised as my Glo would say).
That’s funny.. the service area is open.. mmmm… but the shop’s shut so better get going. Hold up.. there’s a big hairy french guy in a HD tee waving at me, so I pull back in. Turns out they’re waiting for someone who has broken down in Potiers to turn up and the hairy geezer just happens to be the manager. Come on in, he says, I’ll make you a coffee while you have a look around… and if you want anything else let me know. Now you know me, I’m not one to turn down an invitation to shop… especially in a Harley dealers. No Anni, I didn’t buy any chrome… but sorry Glo I did manage to avail myself of the invite, (well, it would be bad manners to do otherwise), and picked up a new tee, a tube of chrome polish and some whitewall tyre cleaner. I also spotted the perfect thing for tornadoes… a leather face mask… luvverly… I was sure that if I bought it there would not be another drop of rain for the next 5 years….??
After forcing Pierre to have his piccie taken with me,
for which he rewarded me with a Limoges Chapter badge; I took my leave and turned the Grrl down the A10 towards Toulouse, our next stop.
Had enough motorway after about 5 minutes but carried on a while further then turned off onto the D39 and let the GPS route me through the villages.
By the way, it started raining about 30 minutes down the road so out with the Silence of the Lambs… I must say it was a good buy, what do you think?
It was set in for the day and nothing could shift it, but at least it wasn’t hailstones. I’m pootling along and lo and behold here’s another Chateau, (is that cat tray in English me thinks).. sorry but the mind does wander when you’re on your own…
I’m on the Richard the Lion Heart Route apparently, well I’ll go to the bottom of our street!!
This is Arnac-Pompadour. More piccies…
So the Dordogne in the wet…
Keeping to the back roads; some of them quite reminiscent of the back roads of Holloway i.e. full of potholes and bad tarmac repairs, I chance across the most picturesque scene so far.. do not fret dear reader.. yep I got photies…
This is Terrasson Lavilledieu and if you ever get the chance then take a look.
Back on the road and now I’m really tired, think I’ll just find my way back onto a dreaded motorway and get the hell to Toulouse and take a break. The constant rain is getting to me and I just want to have a shower and a beer. Still 150 miles to go and its 4.30 already…
Rain stopped and sun shining… 10 miles out from Toulouse sigh!
Arrived Toulouse at 7.30, found a hotel and am now sitting writing this and drinking lager.. bliss.
Tomorrow its Au Revoir France and Hola Espanol via a fluffy Andorra rabbit…. I KNOW it’s Angorra… duh!
Monday, 18 June 2007 – Day 4 – A Day of Highs, Lows and Lower
Todays adventures start at 1am… just finished publishing the blog from yesterday and as the hotel I’m staying in said they don’t have wireless internet connection I had earlier made my way to the Novatel which I know has wireless facilities. Having trekked some 15 or so minutes, (not my favourite sport), I found the hotel and settled myself into the bar for a few pints and some serious blogging – as you do.
OK so now its 1am and I’m in Toulouse… I don’t speak french and as we already know I have a fantastic sense of direction… not. Guess what? I got lost… how unusual! The problems this time though are; no map, no GPS, no bike and no french… merde! (know that one).
Now I know you will be shocked to read this but I got quite scared… a woman alone, in a strange city/country, in the dark etc., etc… anyway thought this is silly so put my best croc forward and headed off in the direction I thought was right. Walking, walking, walking… nah this is not the right way… better turn around. Walking, walking, walking… nope still not right… Ok back the first way and keep going. I’m sure I’ve seen that white Fiat Punto before… mmm it’s gone past me a few times. Next thing it suddenly accelerates past me and pulls over about 10yds up the road, out gets a little man, he is also all in white, tres chic! I’m now a little more worried so I put my shoulders back, stick out my somewhat rotund tummy and march; and I mean march; past him looking straight ahead and praying silently. Next I hear a car door slam and off he roars past me into the night… weirdo! I shout, just to make myself feel better. 10 minutes later and finally I find my hotel… hooray! Flop into bed at 2am very grateful to have survived an uncomfortable experience.
Up fairly early given the late night.. thought I’d just quickly type up last nights experiences ready for later and lo and behold my hotel has wireless… I could have stayed in my room and blogged last night… b%&^*@d!
So what could possibly go wrong now???? Try everything… I shall explain…..
Ok, the sun its absolutely splitting the decks as my father used to say, so decided that this is the day I will try the chaps… now I know you all laughed and even scoffed at my Chaps but I have to say that in the heat they are great… anyway, got the bike out of the garage; cleaned the bugs off, packed her up and checked out the totally inadequate maps in the HOG Touring Guide to see where Toulouse HD is… well that’s ok, it’s on the perimeter road so should be easy to find. Now the perimeter road is like the M25 and there is also an interior road which is equivalent to the North Circ.. are you starting to get the picture yet?? YEP.. fecking round and round and round… I don’t know how many times but could I find the bloody junction… just as I passed my hotel for the 3rd time I though feck this I’m off and started to make my way out towards Andorra… hold up, there’s the junction for HD, fabby… I’ll just pop in and buy the obligatory tee and then be on my way cos it’s 11am so no hanging about ok. Now you see the photo at the head of this page… that’s Toulouse HD.. and it’s SHUT!!!!! There are no words to describe my feelings at this point……
Having found HD on my way out of Toulouse I now take a wrong turn and am lost again… that’s it , hang the cost I’m getting a new GPS cos I can’t stand this anymore… rant rant rant!!!
OK sorry about that…. so I end up riding along a country road sort of hoping for a road sign with Andorra on it when I chance upon a young maiden in a grass skirt… very fetching… said to me ‘Would you like to join our tribe?’ ‘Yes that would be nice’, I replied, ‘…what tribe are you?’ ‘We’re the Fucarwee’, she said, ‘I don’t know…’ says I, ‘…I was hoping you’d tell me!!
An oldie but still a goodie…. well ok, maybe not.
AH HA!!!! A sign… turn left and head straight for Andorra… straight up that is.
Before I left Alphonso said to me… ‘It gets a bit colder up in the mountains Pogs, but I did it in a tee shirt so you should be alright.
Yes Alf, a tee shirt? I had a tee, leather jacket and waterproofs and still I was bloody frozen!
As I progressed up the mountains it got colder and colder and wetter and wetter… the chaps were soaked, I was freezing and the phattie was making a strange scraping noise coming from the back wheel… groaning in agony or ecstacy, I thought, as I tried to negotiate the hairpin bends like a true sports bike vet.As the groaning continued I decided to stop and investigate… in the pouring rain and the almost darkness I surveyed the rear of the bike… nothing… revved the engine, nothing; listened to the gear box, nothing; tried rolling her back and forwards and finally tried coasting downhill with the engine off. Weird! The noise only appeared intermittently and when moving forwards.
So, what to do? Here I am at the top of the Pyrenees, it’s dark, it’s very wet – worse I’m very wet, it’s freezing… better to keep going and get out of the mountains where hopefully it is warmer and possibly dryer. Have to skip the visit to Andorra la Vella and just get out of this place.
Viva Espania but it’s still raining… better keep going and the scraping noise seems to have got less, so that’s good I think. Just then I hit my first Spanish toll road…. HOW MUCH!!! are you having a laugh? 8.50 euro, I could buy dinner with that! Well, no choice have to pay and then I enter a very long tunnel, 5.something kms, but at least it’s dry.
About halfway along there is a sudden bang and the bike stops… Shit! what the hell’s happened now? On with the flashers and off the bike… looking at the rear end.. can’t see anything so gingerly start the engine… runs fine.. whew! Righto, better get some help; I’d noticed an SOS point a few yards back so began to walk back up the tunnel, just then a car stopped and a bloke jumped out, luckily he could speak quite good english so next thing he is on his mobile calling someone and telling me to push the bike up the road a bit as there is a lay-by further up. Actually, I started the engine and very carefully rode her up to the lay-by.. the rear end really didn’t like it but I was not in any mood to be pushing the bleedin’ thing not in soaking wet chaps at any rate.
A few minutes later a land rover pulls up and another bloke gets out… him and Mr Mobile start chatting in Spanish and pointing at me and the bike… very disconcerting… then Mr Land Rover starts gesticulating at me to start the bike; I gesture back that there’s nowt wrong wit engine it’s something at the back.. to which Mr M starts translating for Mr LR who doesn’t seem to get the message and still keeps telling me to turn the key. I decide to leave them to chat amongst themselves as they appear to be at a loss what to do and get my tools out… maybe its the clutch, I think – grasping at straws… perhaps if I take the derby cover off it will reveal the problem?? At this the two men realise that perhaps I do have some inkling of what to do and appear to be relieved that they don’t have to come up with a solution. At some point during the derby cover removal, Mr M disappears and I am left with Mr no english LR.. now sign language really does come in useful!!
I get the torch out and have a look inside the primary cover… looks ok to me (huge sigh of relief), but what’s the problem then?? Mr LR, whose name turns out to be Joseph, sort of shrugs his shoulders and says ‘you have…’ ‘breakdown recovery’ I finish for him, ‘yep… guess I better call them then’… that’s it, it’s all over, I’ll have to go home… shit!
Amazingly I can get a signal! Here I am in the middle of a mountain in the Pyrenees and I can get a signal, so why can’t I get one in Balham, I ask myself? Now, I used to be with the RAC.. was with them for years, but last year after the bike broke down a couple of times and I spent hours waiting for a neanderthal to arrive and say ‘Oh.. it’s a motorbike, I’ll have to get someone else to come love.. hang on there, they won’t be long’ and disappear leaving me to wait another 3 hours for a bike recovery outfit to arrive. When the RAC renewal time came I decided that I would change cover to a more bike friendly company. I checked out the internet and came up with IC Breakdown who offer both UK and European cover at a very reasonable rate, excellent. In my bag I drag out my document case and find the phone number… I get through and am immediately asked what country I am in.. Spain… ok just a moment please.. next thing I get some Dutch Guy whose english is pretty good but keeps asking me about my car.. to which I repeatedly correct him but the worst bit is trying to get him to understand the registration number, I mean this is really painful…
me J for juliet
DG you mean J for jack…
me yes.. 130 K for kilo..
DG you mean K for kate..
me yes.. A for apple, now everyone in the world must know A for apple but not this guy..
DG sorry again..
me A for apple..
DG E for eagle
me NO A FOR APPLE.. am getting a little tense…
DG yes E for eagle..
me NO! A for… thinking hard…. Apartment (don’t ask, I don’t know?)
DG ah! E for Epartment
me NOOOOOOO A for Angry!
At which point I look down and spot that one of the rear sprocket bolts has worked its way loose and is jammed up against the frame… AH! the problem! I put the phone down on my E for Epartment guy.. tough!
I wave frantically at Joseph.. beaming cos I know I can fix this and carry on the journey. Together we get the bolt out… you can see why it was quite a job…
… a bit bent. We also checked the other bolts and found 3 loose ones, so Joseph, while I held the torch and took photos, undid them as far as he could and put loads of red loctite on to keep them in.
So gang, if you are ever crossing into Spain take my advice.. go the other route and don’t pay the exorbitant toll or if you do and you see my mate Joseph, please stop and say hello for me he really was superb.
Quite a day so far and I’ve still got to get to Tarragona.. once out of the tunnel the rain has stopped and I manage to stop for a sandwich and change the sodden chaps.
Just as twilight descends I come upon the famous Montserrat…
It’s getting really late now so decide Tarragona is a gonna, better to head for Barcelona and find somewhere to stay.
Now, as you know, my GPS won’t route in detail so true to form I am lost in Barcelona… up and down the Avenida Diagonals.. round and round the city from 10.30 to midnight looking for a hotel that I recognise. At one point I spot a Hilton but I’m not paying their prices… after almost giving up hope of finding one of the 3 Ibis or 2 Novatels in Barcelona and deciding to carry on riding to Tarragona I finally found an Ibis and got a room for the night. Yippee!!!
Gosh, I’m whacked.. what a day it has been, but what a relief that the trip can go on.
I take out the laptop to update the blog and just to add the icing to this terrible cake of a day.. the laptop’s dead… defunct as the dodo.. fell off its perch… pushing up daisys… etc etc etc.
Feck it… I’m going to bed… I’ll worry about that in the morning.
Good night.. it’s off to Cartagena tomorrow.
Tuesday 19 June 2007 – Day 5 – Hot! Hot! Hot!
Late start… well after yesterday who can blame me?
Check the laptop… still dead.. so how am I typing this blog I hear you cry… keep reading, all will be revealed.
So here I am in Barcelona, behind schedule as I should be in Tarragona about 50 miles down the road and I’ve got 2 choices… get the crack on and head out to todays destination, Cartegena OR go to Barcelona HD first…. well, I do need a replacement rear sprocket bolt don’t I?
Having checked out the directions with the hotel reception I am confident that I can find it ok…., well just about. Barcelona HD is right in the middle of the city in a one way street so not easy to get to. Added to that is the fact that it is a small shop with a service dept further down the road and neither of them very obvious. So, having already spent half and hour sitting in traffic burning my right leg off with the seriously hot sun beating down, I find the right street and get all the way to the bottom without spotting the HD shop. Then I had to try and get back up to the top of the next street to bring myself onto the top of the right street again… sigh!
I park as the Spanish do… anywhere on the pavement, (I wish we could do that in Westminster!!) and make my way into the shop. I was quite surprised to see that nearly all the staff were women, so I asked one of them about the sprocket bolt… blank looks… ‘just a minute’… as she trots off to find a bloke. He looks blank too when I explain what I want and then asks me to follow him to the service dept. Once there he goes into a huddle with another bloke and I see them checking out the service manual and looking on the computer… more huddling… then back comes Mr Blank and says they don’t have one but if I bring the bike in they will see what they can find and fit it. No thanks.. I ain’t paying HD prices to put an old bolt they find in a box on my baby, she’ll be fine for now.
Back at the shop I buy the must have tee and one or two other ..um essentials, then back aboard the Grrl and on to Cartegena.
Getting out of Barcelona was a lot easier than I am used too, probably because I spent so much time the night before riding round it. Unfortunately whilst I did see the Cathedral, several times, I didn’t get a photo as it was dark at the time.
There’s more to come but it’s really late now and I’m exhausted.. will catch it up tomorrow… nite nite..
Back again…. now where was I???
Ah yes on the road to Morrocco… no sorry Cartegena and not a Bob, Bing or Dorothy in sight, (just thought I’d throw that one in for the oldies).
Well, after all the rain in France they’ll need to change that song cos the plains in Spain are mainly burning hot. I’m being very naughty and riding without my jacket – just a tee and waistcoat… and jeans of course, the chaps are still soaking and tied to the top of the pack to dry out.
Another late start after the visit to Barcelona HD so am going to do some of the journey by motorway or autovia as it’s called. The coast road is quite twisty and every so often when approaching a really tight bend there is a sign which says something about Bandes Sonoras, which when I first saw it expected to see gangs of marauding amazons dressed in the same outfit Bridget Bardot wore in Thunderball or Dr No.. can’t really remember which film, but you will remember the skimpy dead animal number she wore… the reason I was thinking of that particular get up was because a photo of BB was used to denote the ladies loo at a garage I stopped at yesterday… very arty I’m sure…
Have to say that writing this a few days later.. as the laptop is still dead at this point… this day is all a bit of a blur; nothing very exciting happened other than me burning my arms and even more sunburn on the old snoz.
Of course the GPS is still crap and am getting lost with mind numbing regularity, but have come to accept this as part of the journey and sometimes it really does make life interesting.
Stopped here for lunch
very nice indeed…
After riding for about 10 hours, I decide to give up on Cartegena and stop in Alicante for the night, which means a really long ride tomorrow as I have to be in Fuengirola to book into my hotel… don’t want to take a chance and lose the only room I have pre-booked on the whole journey.
This is some kind of park…
lost again of course!
Wednesday 20 June 2007 – Day 6 – Hurricane Hills!
Last day on the road for the outward journey and given my excellent track record with HD dealerships am giving Alicante a miss… will visit Marbella and possibly Malaga HDs later this week.
Another scorching hot day… aren’t you just a little bit envious?? The roads are really getting twisty now and am either right by the sea with it stretching way out on my left or up in the hills battling hairpins and terrible spanish drivers, (oh I suppose it could be grockles – that’s tourists – in hire cars, but somehow I think the majority are spanish), the philosophy here seems to be either go at suicidal speeds or get out of my way, chicken! Well, cluck cluck I like living.
Some of the views are quite beautiful, especially of the azure sea glinting in the white hot sunshine. At one point I am riding along just yards from the beach when I spot a beach bar and decide to take a break…..
This is almost better than riding.
The sun is so hot that the air, even when riding, is scorching and my eyes are sweating under my sunglasses; suddenly I start to hear a scraping noise from the rear wheel… oh no, here we go again. I am just about to enter a small town so take a left turn down towards the beach to find some shade… park the bike and investigate…
yep, even though I checked them before I left 2 of the rear sprocket bolts have worked themselves loose again and one is just touching the frame. Out with the spanners and loctite… I even stand on the spanner to make sure they are really tight. That means a definite visit to either Malaga or Marbella HD, these bolts really need sorting.
Stopped here to tighten up the sprocket bolts… not bad eh?
After that am back on the road going up into the hills…
Suddenly the wind picks up and it’s really blowing, especially as it whips around the hills.
The worst parts are crossing the bridges they have built over the valleys between the hills and when lorries come the other way; the bow wave hits from one side while the hurricane hits from the other.. oh the joys of solid wheels!! It really is exhausting trying to keep the bike on the right side of the road whilst negotiating treacherous bends…
have to say I don’t know how I managed it but I was very very relived to arrive in Fuengirola at last… whilst looking for my hotel I came upon the rally site and as there were people there I pulled in. A very helpful spanish family gave me directions to my hotel, (I had already passed it 2kms up the road) and one of the staff told me to be back at 8am to get tagged and collect my rally pack. Finally arrived at my hotel just before midnight!!
My room is fantastic.. much better than I expected… I’ve got a balcony and a beautiful sea view, (even at night).
What really surprised me was that while I was unloading the bike there were other hoggies there actually getting ready and going out on their bikes… I reckon if I wasn’t so tired I’d probably do the same.
Thursday 21 June 2007 – Day 7 – Let’s Go Hoggin’
Up at what feels like the crack of dawn to get over to the rally site for 8am… don’t want to be standing in a loooong queue waiting to get tagged.
Arrive at the site about 8.15 and there’s hardly anyone about.. seems I was given duff gen and the registration opens at 9 NOT 8, (will anything actually go right on this trip?).
Oh well, guess I’ll get a coffee then…. I spot a cafe just across the road so make my way over and notice there are a few hoggies already ensconced sipping… beer! Never, never at 8.15am… ugh! Get chatting to a guy from Finland, (he did tell me his name but what with the accent etc. couldn’t make it out, but for ease of reading I’ll call him Lars which is probably Norwegian but hey ho). He starts by telling me how many kilometers he’s travelled in 5 days down from Finland… something like 2,335 and then we share our hurricane hills adventures. Like me he has a Fatboy and was battling the high winds and inconsiderate road users, so am relieved that I’m not the only one! He then goes on to complain about how expensive things are and where to shop if you want cheap goods… apparently Andorra is a tax haven and everything is very much cheaper there… well wouldn’t you know it after I missed it in the rain etc. might have got a decent GPS there as well… BAH!!
Was telling Lars and a couple of other guys about my sprocket bolts and how I would have to go over to Marbella HD to get them sorted… one of the guys told me that the maintenance area on the site would sort them out for me so that’s great, I’ll go over there later when it’s open.
8.55am make my way over to the tagging point… just a few people in the queue in front of me..
9.20am still in the queue and am joined by Lars who tells everyone how many kilometers he’s done and where to buy cheap goods, (I’ve heard this somewhere before…)
9.30am guess what… yep still… there’s a couple behind us (Lars and I) from Cornwall who think we are together… puleeeze… soon put them straight on that one; I mean Lars is nice enough but stinks of beer and has limited conversation as far as I can tell. Mrs Cornwall starts talking about where they have been… Italy… South of France etc. on their previous travels and is wondering whether either of us have been to the Carmargue as they are thinking about going there, this gives Lars the in and he starts explaining that although he has never even heard of the Carmargue they should definitely visit Andorra because it’s really…. snore snore zzzzzz
9.40 Hurray! Got my tag.. bye Lars, have a good one…
I then ask where to go to get my bike tagged… well it seems I needn’t have stood waiting for a tag but should have ridden my bike in as the tags are numbered and have to match… so why didn’t someone give out that information? Duh!!
Then a quick wander around the site… nothings open yet so take the bike to the nearest jet wash and give her a good clean… still need to do the whitewalls by hand with the shiny new whitewall cleaner purchased from Pierre at Limoges to get all that brake dust off, but first back to the HOG site to talk to the maintenance people about the sprocket bolts. As expected I have to stand in a queue for about 20 minutes then get served by Kurt who explains that they are already fully booked and that I need to bring her back tomorrow at 9am when they will take her in and have a look. Kurt seems to think that the threads have gone so they may have to install helicoils??? or something like that, (I nod knowingly to Kurt of course whilst not having a clue what helicoils are!), which sounds mega expensive and that’s without the usual extortionate labour rates… oh well, has to be done.. it’s a long way home and better to be safe.
Back to the hotel and I get down to some really good whitewall cleaning after which it’s time for a ride so take her to Marbella and out again looking for the HD dealership… turns out it’s another 6 or 7 kms down the road so not in Marbella itself and hidden away in a combined Bentley/Jaguar/HD dealership, (at least we’re in good company) so of course I spend ages looking for it and arrived definitely very hot and bothered. What is it about spanish HD dealers? They really don’t seem very customer focused.. they could do with a few pointers from you Anni, I mean they just aren’t at all helpful or in fact friendly and no HOG discount.. (well not in the Marbella one) disgusting!
By the time I get back to the hotel I just manage to get into dinner at the last gasp, (I’m on half board so should save a few quid), food’s not too bad actually and it’s eat as much as you want so considering I’ve hardly eaten more than a few jambon y queso sarnies on the way down I did take full advantage of it. Then for a walk to see what’s around the hotel… all of the shops on the beach front are shut with just 1 or 2 bars still open for business; I’m not in the mood for solo drinking so make my way back to the hotel and sit on the balcony listening to the sea below, very restful.
Have to admit am feeling a bit low tonight…. guess it’s just the lack of something to do as the laptop is still u/s… well, at least I’ll get an earlyish night as have to take Phattie to the menders in the morning.
You will notice dear reader that I omitted to take any photos today.. sorry but I seem to have forgotten although I did take some video footage of the HOG site but haven’t worked out how to put it into the blog yet.
insert video here….
Friday 22 June 2007 – Day 8 – Serious Shopping
Managed to arrive at the site for 9.20am so a little late. Just as I roll up to park the bike I spot a friend of mine, Lynn, who I have been trying to contact by phone since Wednesday as we had said we would meet up. Turns out her phone is on the blink so it’s just pure chance that we bump into one another. We agree to meet up again later for lunch.
Another 15 minute wait and Kurt’s busy so am dealt with by another guy who tells me she will be ready between 3 and 4.. blimey 6 or 7 hours to kill… what will I do?? mmmmm..
I take a walk up the site and find the HOG merchandise unit.. well I have to go in and see what they’ve got… come out with a bandana, a ladies of harley patch (don’t ask) and a lanyard so pretty restrained for me!
Just then a ride-out is getting ready to set off so I get out the video camera and take some footage of them leaving.. (still don’t know how to put it up on here…), I really should use this camera more.
…insert video here….
On the site there are a numer of ‘national’ bars so I pop into the GB bar and have a couple of cokes. The people who are running the bar live in Spain, the barmaid tells me, they actually run a business giving free business advice to people wanting to come out to Spain and start their own businesses, which sounds like a good idea as I’m sure it’s a complete minefield for the uninitiated. Apparently, they are a charity so use opportunities like the HOG rally to get some funds in by running a bar. Over in the corner another guy has set up a mini ’Subway’ counter so I pootle over and get myself some brekkie, yum yum.
Next I go in search of the Irish bar, but it’s not open yet so will check it out later.
The site is starting to fill up now with bikes arriving all the time. I notice a tented area near to the tagging place and wonder what that can be as it doesn’t appear to be open yet. Just then I spot a group of people coming from round the back so I wander over to investigate. AHA! its the market place… and it’s open so now, gang, it’s serious shopping time.
First I find lots of stalls selling cammo shorts which are just the thing for riding in this heat. Course it’s really difficult to find a pair to fit me but I persevere and eventually find a pair that fit, (well, if I breathe in that is). I also get some badges sewn onto my waistcoat, (more expensive that at home but better than losing them).
My phone is ringing and I have a long, very uplifting chat with Anni and Alfie, thanks guys that really cheered me up just when I needed it.
It is during this phone call that I bump into Lynn again so we go off to have lunch and then keep each other company while I wait for my bike.
At 3.30pm I go to see if she is ready… the queue this time is really long and the heat in the tent almost unbearable… I don’t know how those guys can work in here! Suddenly, a scooter comes into the tent and disappears round behind the ‘wall’ screening off the work area.. next thing there’s the squealing of rubber on tarmac… he’s burning the rear tyre on the scooter and the tent fills with acrid black smoke. All the maintenance guys we can see are really laughing but I gotta tell you that I just don’t get it? Meanwhile the queue waits and sweats and with a different kind of fumes spiralling above some of the heads.
At last it’s my turn and Kurt takes my number and disappears… 3 minutes later he comes back and says they are waiting for the part to arrive and she won’t be ready till tomorrow… ‘WHAT! What part?’ I ask, ‘A new primary chain’ says Kurt, WHAT! I don’t think so.. why are you changing the primary chain? She only came in to have the rear sprocket bolts changed!’ I exclaim. With a ‘Ugh! Oh! hang on a minute’ Kurt disappears again into the smog laden tent… 2 minutes later he returns and asks me to come into the tent and point to my bike, which I do… ‘AHH!’ says Kurt, ‘I got the wrong bike before, let me see where we are at’ so I return to the waiting area and a few minutes later Kurt is back with my keys and my bill… oh dear, wait for it…. ‘The mechanic has replaced the missing bolt, undone and re-fitted all the other bolts with loctite and all have been torqued so you shouldn’t have any more problems’, Oh methinks, no helicopters then, whew.. ‘That’ll be 33 euro please’ ‘Eh! 33.. oh oh thanks, er that’s fantastic’… well what a bargain, I really am very impressed by HD, at last!!
Meet up again with Lynn and we agree to go for a ride to Puerto Banus, just the other side of Marbella HD. I also take the opportunity to try out the new shorts and they’re great, I just have to remember to hold my leg out when I stop or I will definitely come back with a lovely souvenir!!
We find a fantastic outdoor bar that has sprinklers overhead and every 5 minutes or so they give out a fine mist of cold water which really brings the air temperature down and makes it a very comfortable place to spend a seriously hot afternoon. Puerto Banus is the playground of the mega rich that Marbella is the pretender to. I don’t know if you have ever seen the TV programme ‘Marbella Belles’ but if you have then you know the sort of people we were spotting all afternoon… very wealthy, just look at the boats…
Wouldn’t mind one of these myself… very flash.
After a quick photo op…
it’s back to Fuengirola, a quick meal and time to call it a day… gosh I’m tired and the plan is to go to Gibraltar tomorrow, which is going to be emotional, so better try and get some sleep.
Saturday 23 June 2007 – Day 9 – Lost and Found
Only just managed to get my bike out of the hotel this morning… there are loads of bikes now and some of them are not parked very considerately, plus just as I’m about to leave the HOG parade rides past… must of been several hundred bikes at least.
Gibraltar is the last place I was stationed in the WRAF and from where I was dismissed, so it really is quite difficult for me going back after 21 years, but I would like to see how the place has changed.
A very nice ride down until about 20 miles out and then the temperature really dropped and it was very overcast… ahh I thought, the Levanta will be down then; the Levanta is what they call a great big cloud/fog that occasionally descends and sits on top of the rock blocking the sun and making the day quite cool and damp. It was very interesting to note that the Spanish still do not signpost Gib until you actually turn towards La Linea and then they route you right around the town and back again to the border. Had a job finding my way into the border crossing… again really badly sign posted and not how I remember it; although when I first arrived in Spring 1984 the border was closed and then when it opened a few months later, it was only for foot crossings… vehicles weren’t allowed to cross until some time later. Stopped to take a photo of the Rock before crossing the border…
As you can see, I was right about the Levanta…
Well given the weather as a bad omen it will come as no surprise to discover that they wouldn’t let me in!! All this way from London and I can’t get across the border… no, not because I was expelled 21 years ago, but because I didn’t bring my passport and although they would let me into Gib, in theory, on the strength of my drivers license, the customs woman explained that the Spanish probably wouldn’t let me back into Spain! So after all that I turned the Phattie around and headed back to Fuengirola… on the ride back I reflected that it was probably better this way; I’m sure it would have been very difficult and maybe it is better to let sleeping dogs lie afterall. That was another life or even 2 lives ago and it is best left in the past perhaps. If I really want to go back I can always catch a plane and pay a short visit, (with my passport of course!?) so maybe I will in the future.
Dropped into Puerto Banus again on the way back for a bit of a break and then back to the hotel… blimey where the hell am I going to park???
Managed to squeeze her in after someone obligingly went for a ride and left a space.
Here’s a couple of other bikes… these were going in the custom show but don’t know how they got on…
And another interesting paint job…
Back in the hotel I went online, (the computer belongs to the hotel and it’s 1 euro for 12 minutes… rip-off really), to check my emails. Mark, my business partner, has been trying to find ways for me to keep the blog going via this computer but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out yet; it’s all to do with Apple Mac and the software I use to create the blog pages… anyway… I decide to have a look at the Apple website and see if there is any technical help available; there is and it suggests a couple of options, like turning the laptop off and on without the battery etc etc… mmm well it’s worth a try I think.
Back in my room I try the suggested key combinations and yippee!! we have lift off… back to life, but the screen is F*&^ed all weird and wonderful colours but who cares at least I can catch up the blog and have something to keep me occupied in the evenings…sad bitch!
First thing is to transfer all the photos out of the camera and then I’m going down to the HOG site to take some more photos of the bikes there… I spotted a rebuilt 1940’s Indian there the other day but didn’t take a photo so hope it’s around tonight.
Arrive at the site and guess what? Yep, the Indian is there so get a good shot of it and some other really nice bikes. I also take some shots of the site itself to put in the blog… to be honest when the laptop crashed I really didn’t bother taking too many photos but now it’s back so want to make it more interesting for my readers.
I also see groups of black and white side patches wandering around… no wristbands of course. They are the Gremium or Gremlin or Geranium or something like that from Germany, Italy and Spain and are swaggering around in groups of 3 or 4 eyeing up the bikes and looking tough… they probably are tough I think to myself so better keep away.
Soooo, where are the wonderful photos I hear you ask… well, after the photo session I went back to the market area for a last look and when I got back to the Grrl my camera was gone! Some Bastard had pinched it… I was so upset.. I couldn’t believe it, but it was lucky I had transferred the photos before I went out.
Well, what a lot of bad luck to have in one day, and when I checked the laptop I think there are some photos missing as I do remember taking one of the bar in Puerto Banus, but it’s not there so must be still in the camera… well they won’t be able to charge the battery as I’ve still go the charger of course… well I suppose they can buy one…. damn!!!
It’s Sunday tomorrow so don’t have much hope of finding a camera shop open but you never know.
Sunday 24 june 2007 – Day 10 – Last Day in Hogland
As suspected, impossible to find a camera shop open so no photos until tomorrow I think… sob! Still kicking myself about not looking after the camera properly and letting some tea leaf bastard pinch it…. stomp stomp!!
After trying to find a camera and buying a pair of dirt cheap, (vile actually) trainers, (see photo above), cos my feet are boiling in these boots I went back to the hotel to start catching up on the blog.
Met up with Lynn again for lunch and then went to a bar I found on my travels that morning….. guess what it’s called?
Would you believe it? It’s actually pronounced Pogues which means kisses in Gaelic… as in Póg Ma Thón which as everyone knows is kiss my arse!
These were taken with my phone camera, had forgotten about that until now… duh!
After this it was back to the hotel for some more blogging, dinner and then a final ride around Fuengirola, (showing off of course… the trainers that is!).
Part of the repair to the laptop was to secure the battery as it seems to be loose… how do you like the Pogs bodge job?
Another example… I tried to patch up the hole my pipes burnt into my waterproof over trousers… I knew those cut-offs would come in handy!!!
As you can see, sewing is another of my many accomplishments!!
Early start tomorrow as want to pick up a camera before I begin the long journey home… first leg Fuengirola to Madrid…
Monday 25 June 2007 – Day 11 – Squealin’ Hog
Time to start the journey home… first stop… El Corte Ingles, (John Lewis in Spanish), to pick up a camera… also get a strong laptop bag, don’t want that breaking down again.
As with the real John Lewis the service is excellent and after my sob story re the stolen camera, my shop assistant, Sandra, persuades her boss to give me a case for the new camera gratis; which is very nice of them. I immediately test the camera….
Looks good to me, so it’s off we go, out of Fuengirola and on to Madrid but first I must get lost in Malaga… a friendly taxi driver takes pity on me, (I don’t know how he knew I was lost but who cares), and starts talking to me at some traffic lights… he’s speaking gibberish of course (Spanish actually but sounds gibberish to me) then he says blah blah Fuengirola blah blah Harley Davidson blah blah… oooh I know those words so I say Si at which he obviously starts directing me to Fuengirola so I quickly say ‘No, no… Madrid I go’ (been taking lessons from Alf because as those who know him may be aware, he is in fact multi-lingual) and it actually works. Next thing Mr Taxi is motioning for me to follow him and he proceeds to show me the way to the main Madrid Road… I take it all back… well some of it as most of my experiences of Spanish people have been negative, but today is a good day.
So, at last I am on my way to Madrid… of course most of the morning has gone now so I am behind schedule as usual!!
Having cleaned the wildlife off the bike, done all the pre-flight checks, filled her up and inflated the tyres before I left I didn’t need to stop for 200Kms, (forgot to mention that my speedo is Kms not miles) but I did start to notice a squealing noise from the rear brake caliper so when I did stop I thought I‘d better check it out… looks ok.. so how do you get the blooming pads out…ALF!! quick phone call and Alfie talks me through the procedure… it’s a bit like Casualty when they’re out on the road and the Doctor is back at base giving the ambulance crew instructions and they save the persons life.. awww.
Pads look great… so what’s the problem… ahhhhhh look what I found in my caliper Doctor…
I put the pads back in and I’m on my way again… thanks to A&A , (not A&E hehe), yet again they come to my rescue. Only problem now is that I don’t have hardly any rear brake at all; it’s only giving me about 30% I reckon… well, it’ll have to wait till Madrid… I’ll take it to HD and have it checked out tomorrow, sigh.
Another very hot day… as you can see the temp guage is reading about 34 degs and that is just after I stopped riding so as you can imagine it’s pretty draining. Now I’ve got the new camera I’m gonna make good use of it; so here are some piccies of the journey…
Can’t wait to see what Madrid HD is like, better than Marbella I hope and not too expensive; watch this space…
Night night zzzzzz
Tuesday 26 June 2007 – Day 12 – Subterranean Homesick Blues
I’ve had brainwave…. Armed with the HOG Touring Guide and the map I was given at the airport IBIS I go down to reception and ask for directions to Madrid HD… but things cannot be that simple can they? There are 2 Madrid HDs, one in the city and one a bit further out so which one to go to?? The receptionist is not sure about the addresses so consults a very thick streetfinder type guide and decides that the city one will be the easiest to get to although I do insist that I don’t want to go into the city as I always get lost but she seems to ignore this so I let her give me the directions to the city one as it will be quicker and it is heading north which is where I want to be going….
Out of the hotel turn left and should be straight on for the M25.. OK so far; join what I think is the M25 or whatever its called and next thing I’m in a warren of underground tunnels that seem to go on for miles.. then I spot a sign for where I want to go but before I can change lanes the tunnels have split and I’m in the wrong bit… shit! Ok don’t panic, just take the next right tunnel… ok out into the sunshine and I’m back with the Fucarwee tribe so first chance I get I stop and consult the map… where the fu.. did those tunnels come from?? On checking the map it seems I was right in the first place so decide the best thing is to turn round and try again without missing the correct turn off this time. Well, as usual I’m lost again and back into a different bit of the subterranean underworld.. after a couple of miles I decide to get out into the sun again and try finding my way overground.
After a long and quite tortuous route I eventually get on the right street and wow.. there it is.. it looks shut… I don’t believe it Mr Meldrew…. hang about why is the shutter up??? There’s a big orange curtain in the opening so I park the bike, (on the pavement of course), and go to investigate. The orange curtain is like a safety curtain and has a perspex window in it… I look in.. there’s a bloke sitting there, he looks a bit like John Travolta in Grease… anyway I tap the curtain and he looks up and points to my left… on the frame there is a button so I press it and up shoots the curtain; yippee!!! I’m in.
I really must learn some Spanish… he doesn’t speak English of course so goes to get his mate who looks like Wayne from Waynes World… this is weird… I explain the problem so Wayne, John and another guy who looks vaguely like the actor Malcom McDowell and I all troop outside to look at the bike… Wayne says ‘We don’t ave zee pads for theees’ ‘That’s ok cos I don’t need any pads, the pads are fine I checked them yesterday’… this results in a conflab by the Hollywood lookie likies in Spanish after which Wayne turns to me and says, ‘Zee pads they ees maybe glassy.. we can take zem out and rough em up a beet that will be zee problem’.. ‘OK’ says I before I’ve thought about it, but luckily just as Malcolm is about to throw his leg over my Grrl I realise what is happening and quickly say ‘No it’s ok I can do that myself thanks’ Whew that was a close one. They all troop off back into the service bay and I get my trusty tool roll out and the phone – to call Alf of course… Alf’s not there but Anni passes me over to Andy… I’m calling because I’m a bit dubious about this ‘glassy’ business but Andy thinks it might be the problem and that I just need to take em out and rough em up with a bit of wet and dry. Guess what was the only thing I didn’t pack in my tool roll… yep exactly! Andy says ‘not to worry take em out and rub them on the pavement that should do the trick’ which is exactly what I do. Have to say I got quite a few looks… imagine, little fat dyke in leathers sitting on the pavement in the middle of Madrid rubbing her hands frantically on the concrete.. bound to draw a few stares methinks.
EEK! I’ve got mice…
After refitting the pads it’s back into the workshop to buy some more oil and then a short hike up the road to the tee-shirt shop and the loo before I get back on the road.
After a few missed turns I make my way out and the GPS directs me towards Pamplona the next planned stop. The road is really terrible and I am almost thrown off the bike at one point by a bump in the road that you just can’t see… scary… and this is dual carriage way! I also have noticed how every time there is a small bridge there’s always a dip at the front and back… wonder if this is for blind drivers so they know when they have crossed safely?????
The temperature is starting to drop and after about an hour I stop to put on my jacket. Even though the sun is shining and it’s hot when I stop, there is a definite chill when riding.
Laugh all you want.. it worked… problem is I still don’t know how to put the footage into the blog… will have to sort that out when I get home.
One thing is that I haven’t paid any tolls today at all, even though I have been on motorway for some of the journey… seems they really sting the tourists on the coast roads.
By the time I get to Pamplona it’s 10pm and I’m too tired to look for an IBIS so stop at the first decent hotel I see. It has 3 crowns above the name so I think.. ah 3 star that shouldn’t be too expensive. Once I get into the lobby I notice it is very posh… mmmm… anyway I get to the desk and ask for a room, fantastic they have a room available; the receptionist asks me if I am aware of their room rate… now this gets my back up because she seems to be suggesting that I can’t afford it! I say no and she tells me and I say fine here’s my credit card, dead nonchalant, as you do – inside I’m kicking myself, but I’m not having anyone think I can’t do posh. Let’s just say it was a lot more than I would normally pay but I got a lovely room, a porter to carry my numerous bags, a restaurant that was open til 11.30, (yep I went the whole hog – ‘scuse the pun), and underground parking looked after by a little guy in a very smart dark green overcoat with brass buttons and a hat… just have to put that one down to experience.
The bed is the best yet… I could sleep for a week in this….
Wednesday 27 June 2007 – Day 13 – Camp as a row of tents
In the morning I look out of my window and find I have the most beautiful views of old Pamplona.The bull festival is here in two weeks time so I’ve missed it…. too early. I’m also missing brekkie as, believe it or not, it isn’t included in the room price!
Now I reckon it’s going to be raining crossing the Pyrenees judging by the amount of cloud out there so I ask the reception where I can buy a waterproof rucksack cover. He directs me to the most wonderful sports superstore, it has everything, but I’m really very restrained… for me.. and only buy the rain cover, some socks and a long sleeved top.
I take the road to San Sebastian where I am going to cross over into France and then on to La Rochelle the next stop.
Apart from getting a little bit wet riding through the clouds on top of the mountains that was all there was, so I was wrong about the rain…
Stopped for petrol… check out this paint job, must have cost a few bob!
San Sebastian is lovely but couldn’t stop for photos, sorry. The next thing I know I’m in France… hurray, decent roads and reasonably courteous drivers.
I decide to make my way up the coast towards Le Verdon-sur-Mer where there is a ferry to Royan then up through Rochefort, (eats well with a good bread, mummy … for all you Catherine Tate fans), to La Rochelle, which should be fun.
First place I come upon is Biarritz.. well, had to stop here seeing as I’d just paid jet-set prices for my hotel last night. It is actually quite lovely.. yep got the piccies to prove it.
Nothing down ere except camp sites and yep more trees…
I turn back up to the main road and what I really notice are the number of young people hitchhiking and even more shocking, I saw one smartly dressed middle aged woman with her thumb out…how odd!
After several miles of this… about 30 actually, I realise I’m not going to make it.. in fact the ferry has probably already closed as it’s now 6.30pm and I’m reeeally bored.. trees, campsites, more trees etc etc. I make a major decision… forget La Rochelle, (its probably full of trees), and head for Bordeaux to spend the night there, then on to Saint-Nazaire in the morning. So, I double back a bit and then join the Bordeaux autoroute. On the way I stop for petrol and a hot chien; at the same time I make a few phone calls as I am well fed up with riding around looking for hotels in the middle of the night. Tried 3, all fully booked so decide to carry on and go to the first hotel I see.
Around 10.30 I arrive at the outskirts of Bordeaux and on the side of the autoroute I see a huge neon sign declaring chambres €31, oooh I’ll have some of that given last nights expense. Turns out its like a Formula 1, after a certain time there aren’t any reception staff so you make your booking in a machine on the wall using your credit card. This is a great system, when it works! Now, this is me remember and nothing ever goes right… it just won’t accept my cards, (I tried 3 different ones). Just as I’m about to give up and look for somewhere else a frenchman arrives and he attempts to get my card to work… nope not having it… so Mr FM tells me to wait and he disappears into the hotel. Next thing, a woman appears and says come in I will take your card inside; its seems Mr FM has got the manager out for me, how nice is that?
So, here I am, its not Biarritz but its clean, warm and unlike Formula 1, I have my own on-suite shower room etc., all for €31… bliss
Thursday 28 June 2007 – Day 14 – Ten out of Ten
Had a really good night in my cheapo hotel… excellent and highly recommended. Mrs Manager and hubby are very friendly and helpful so when I appear with my Touring Guide and map they are more than happy to direct me to the dealership… so sweet.
Bordeaux is really interesting, especially the architecture.
On to Saint-Nazaire.
Once on the road I begin to think about how long it is going to take me to get there and then the very long ride to Caen…
I start thinking about why I want to go there? Well, I’m a bit of a WWII buff and Saint-Nazaire is the site of a famous marine commando raid on the Nazi submarine pens so I just wanted to see what was there. After a while I stop for petrol and a coffee and I get the maps out… stuff it I’m not going to bother with Saint-Nazaire, I’m going to head straight up to Tours, stop there then tomorrow on to Caen. I really need to do shorter hops and this way I can call into Poitiers HD on the way.
I also decide to pre-book my hotel for tonight in Tours which turns out to be a doddle as I get a room in the first hotel I call… good.
I take the most direct route to Poitiers. The dealership is just outside Poitiers in Fontaine La Comte. It’s a small village, (I know because I explored the whole of it looking for HD!!) which I thought was a strange place to site a Harley dealers but then I find an industrial park and there it is.. gosh another big aircraft hanger… it’s funny how all the dealerships in France look the same!
Oh… My… God!!! There’s a sale on…. well you can’t miss an opportunity like that can you? The sale is just on womens tees and they’re all small sizes so looks like Lisa is going to get a new wardrobe!! Have to say I got some cracking bargains.. ah! where am I gonna put em on the bike??? That rain cover is certainly going to come in handy.
Onward and upward to Tours. I must say I really enjoy riding in France… the scenery is lovely, the roads are good and well sign-posted, the drivers, on the whole, courteous and when I stop the people are friendly even with my limited school girl french, (which seems to be improving as I remember more – it has been a long time – ahem!).
Arrive at Tours no problem.. I’m definitely getting better at this now that it’s almost time to go home… sigh! I park the bike opposite the entrance to the hotel and get the fright of my life…
As I arrive early, for me, I have to chance to freshen up, have dinner and catch up the blog… fantastic day… ten out of ten!
Friday 29 June 2007 – Day 15 – S. N. A. F. U*
Took my time this morning… sat in the lounge, had a cafe au lait and did some blogging. I also used the opportunity to book my hotels on-line for tonight in Caen, (actually I’m staying in Ouistreham just 9 miles north of Caen on the coast right by Sword beach), and tomorrow night in Calais.
Get my luggage ready to pack up the bike… after the usual de-weebeastying.
Do you think I have enough bags etc???
Eventually I get going.. this should be a fairly straight run up the A28 to Le Mans and then carry on up to Caen; pop into the HD there and then the last few miles to Ouistreham… should be…
Turn onto the A10 first then should take the off ramp onto the A28, but somehow I miss it.. shit! oh well onto the next one then… I miss the next off ramp as it’s obscured by a string of lorries, (they seem to hunt in packs here and they always travel like circus elephants, trunk to tail), so as I am overtaking them I manage to miss the turning… well the language is really colourful at this point and I am shouting at everything… I can’t fecking believe it…. the next opportunity to get off this road going east to Orleans is just before Blois, (which I came past on the way down), but this is not for another 21 miles and I am swearing and screaming the whole way! Anyway I eventually take the D957 to Vendome. Here I see a turning to Chartres – been there, done that.. still no toilettes I’m sure
I continue to head north-west and the GPS routes me through some lovely countryside and villages…
Is this the largest satellite dish in the world?
I stop for petrol in the small town of Souday.. the garage is owned by Jimmy Helier who is a small rotund chappie..no English of course, but we manage. As I get off the bike to fill up, Jimmy and his mate come out of the building to help me but I gesture to them that I will do it… had one bloke in Spain fill her up who overdid it and petrol was cascading down the tank onto the engine so since then have done all my own refills. Jimmy and pal disappear into the garage and when I have finished I go in to pay… it is a small coffee shop so I ask for a cafe au lait and the toilette of course! The Cafe seems to be used by the local football team and there are numerous trophies on shelves. Jimmy seems very nice and we get by with some gestures and a lot of shrugging and pointing. I say my au revoirs and go out to get ready to go. As I am checking the pack before getting on, I look back into the shop and see, who I can only assume is, Mrs Jimmy watching me through the window… I imagine Jim must have rushed into the back room at the first opportunity and said… ‘Cor girl you better get yourself out the front, you’ve never seen anything like it!!’ or words to that effect. I smile to myself and just as I am about to board the Phattie I give Mrs Jimmy a smile and a wave… she smiles and waves back, how nice… well I hope I made her day cos she, and he, certainly brightened mine.
I pass through Argentan and then at Falaise onto the N158 which is the road that Caen HD is on. I am hoping to get there before it shuts but it is 6.30 now so don’t hold out much hope. I arrive at 7.10 just 10 minutes late… nevermind I’ll pop back tomorrow before I make my way to Calais.
Find the hotel no problem and settle down to dinner and blogging, of course.
*PS… SNAFU… Situation Normal All F&$ked Up
Saturday 30 June 2007 – Day 16 – Lest we ever forget.
On departure the hotel receptionist asked ‘You ‘ave zee ‘Arley Davidson Qui?’ upon my response she said she would like to see the bike so out we went to the car park… have to say I was very proud.. lots of cooing and OOOLALA’s from Mdm Receptionist and what sounded like very approving french phrases.
Onto the more serious stuff… am really going to let the photos speak for themselves; a very thought provoking time.
My father was either on Sword or Gold beach…
By this time I felt I’d didn’t have enough time to do it justice and would definitely come back for another visit.. maybe a weekend trip, to do it properly and also I would like to find out which beach my dad landed on.
On my way out to Caen HD I notice lots of sign to The Memorial so I decide to follow them….
This is huge and obviously worth a visit on it’s own. Caen was a heavily defended city and much of it was destroyed, but it was also the jumping off point for the last phase of the war so remains an important reminder of the destruction and futility of war wherever it may be.
Back to Caen HD then… I had marked the spot in the GPS so I was able to go straight back to it. Another aircraft hanger in the middle of a huge field??
Back on the road heading out of Caen and I come to Pegasus Bridge… here I must stop as this is a very famous site where the first successful mission was completed on D-Day. It is also memorable because of the film ‘The Longest Day’ which records what happened on D-Day and for Hollywood is reasonably accurate.
As I was going along the beach road earlier I had turned into a small street and needed to do a u turn… for the first time since I have had her I almost dropped her… don’t know how it happened but just as I was turning she reached the point of no return and started to go over… luckily I was able to hold her but couldn’t for the life of me get her back upright. Just then a french family on their way down to the beach came along and rescued me…. if not I could still be there!
Last photo is one which I couldn’t resist… on the way to the Memorial I spotted this…
A Gazebo Convention??? Or maybe it’s some sort of out there sexual fetish… who knows?
At last I make my way out of Caen and onto the coast road towards Le Harve through all the ‘villes’ Deauville, Blonville, Trouville and then Honfleur.
I also come across this ancient Norman Church at Criquetot-L’Esneval,
but what’s really interesting are the gargoyles above the doorway….
they seem to be signing!
At Le Harve I take the autoroute straight to Calais and come across
A Bridge too Far perhaps??
And… hopefully the last Toll ever!!
Just as I am arriving at the hotel it starts to rain… whew missed that… well…..
…not quite… by the time I check in and am ready to unload the bike, it’s throwing it down… what a way to end the journey… soaking wet and drying everything out in the bathroom after having borrowed a heater from the reception…
…c’est la vie mon petite lapins.
Tomorrow is the last day and the final ride home…. awwww… but I’m looking forward to seeing my partner Glo and all my friends so… sad but happy really.
Saturday 1 July 2007 – Day 17 – Welcome Home!
Just to put the icing on the cake….
I’m lost in Calais… there is an enormous diversion round half of Calais to get back to where I started i.e. in sight of the Eurotunnel check-in… I’m going to rename this blog the Lost Adventures of a POG on a HOG in the FOG… shame rain doesn’t rhyme eh!
Get the train at last and it’s home to blighty.. oooh I’ve come over all forties… must be the after effects of yesterday..
…off the train into… wait for it…. a cyclone!!
The wind is so strong that it actually whips my sunglasses off my face! As I see them sailing past my head and down the M20 I realise what this is… Home saying Welcome… this is England, you won’t be needing them ere mate! And too right as the rain starts.. ho hum, welcome home indeed.
So the journey ends not with a whisper that’s for sure.
I really hope you have enjoyed my blog as much as I enjoyed creating it… it really did keep me company in a funny sort of way.
Anyway, I do have a little more to do over the next few days… I would like to add the video footage I took and some more songs and stuff, so if you are not too bored and can bear it, please continue to watch this space.
Take care xxxxxxxxxx