Am off on my travels yet again. This time I’m riding to Spain… again… for the HOG Rally in Cadiz. After the rally I will be riding to Gibraltar where I am leaving the bike in storage.
So, just one week to go! Am leaving on the 8th May 2015 to catch the overnight ferry to St Malo and onwards.
I was hoping to travel on the panhead I have been building for the last 4 years, but sadly it is not to be as the paintwork is not ready. Therefore I am riding my newish Fatboy that I just traded my crossbones in for.
Day 1 – We’re Off…
Tuesday 9 June 2015
So today is the day.. am just preparing to leave on my way to the ferry then over to France. I will try to maintain the blog/vlog everyday, but if I am riding for long stretches I might be too tired. Sorry
Watch this space for more adventures.
Arrived in Portsmouth about 5pm, so not bad going and no rain… yet.
After carefully packing, unpacking and cutting it down to a minimum, for me that is, I forgot to pack a bracket thing for attaching the gopro to the bike… humph. So decided to try and find somewhere to buy one, but no such luck.
Arrived at the ferry at 7ish and got on quickly, but a wee frenchman couldn’t make up his mind which way round he wanted me to park… round and round.
Got sorted eventually so unpacked my overnight stuff and went to find my cabin. In the cabin I suddenly thought I’d left my passport on the bike, in full view, so hurried back down to the vehicle deck…. no passport eek!!! Looked all over the bike, but nothing. Back to the cabin to check again… nothing. Went to the information desk to report it, but no passport handed in… now I’m panicking. Back down to the bike to check again… still nothing. Back to cabin and pulled everything out… there it is, hiding in the spare glove bag… grr but very relieved… phew!
Just had a small bottle of wine, only 250cl but because I hardly ever drink, am feeling a bit tipsy… hic!
Off to bed now… bonjour St Malo in the morning…. nite nite.
5 Responses to Day 1 – We’re Off….
Mine disappeared too.. hm.
Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air!! Looking forward to reading in english and maybe bel, your stories. Keep a hold of your passport! :0) x
5. Jacki Wansays:
Mine disappeared too! Pattern here…? Anyway I basically said be careful dont put your things in safe places, I never remember where my safe place is. Safe travels Pad xx
Day 2 – Windy Windy
Wednesday 10 June 2015
Got off the boat no probs and onto the open road. Tagged on the back of a group of Polish Hoggies… Nice to group ride for a change. Stopped at a place called Tinteniac for a cafe au lait and croissant… In a supermarket; thought I would find a quaint little boulangerie but no such luck, still filled a gap.
Am on my way to St Nazaire as I’ve always wanted to go there but missed out on my last french trip in 2007, then on to La Rochelle where I am staying tonight. It’s really windy but sunny for the most part; am having to battle a bit to keep the bike in a straight line though.
Stopped for a bum break… Lovely little town
Arrived St Nazaire and rode straight to the port as this is what I have come to see.
During WW2 the germans occupied St Nazaire and build huge concrete structures. This is where the U-boats were hidden away when they were being repaired/restocked. It also had the only drydock in occupied hands large enough to accommodate the Tirpitz. There was a daring raid to destroy the drydock gates called Operation Chariot and a destroyer class ship, HMS Cambeltown, was filled with explosives and sailed into the dock gates where it exploded and sank thereby making the dock unusable for the rest of the war.
For the full story click here http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Campbeltown_(I42)
The huge concrete ‘pens’ can still be seen and most of them converted to a museum. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to look inside but was able to see them from the outside.
I also came across this interesting sculpture, commissioned to commemorate the abolition of slavery in France.
here is the information
I’m really glad I got here in the end.
Called in to a little cafe for a coffee… This was on the table opposite…
Next stop… shopping… went to St Herblain Harley Davidson near Nantes… almost bought another helmet as the one I’ve got chokes me at high speed.. however I managed to restrain myself, ahem! So just a tee shirt then.
Finally arrived at my hotel around 9pm.. no thanks to the satnav, which has decided to play silly beggers and refused to route me anywhere except La Rochelle in NORMANDY… sigh. So had to navigate the old fashioned way, by road signs.. still did ok and got here fairly easily.
That’s roughly 270 miles today; am heading for Andorra tomorrow… won’t make it in one day but will stop somewhere along the way. zzzzzzzzzz
After much faffing around with photos and videos it’s now 1am so the BSL version will have to wait until tomorrow… err today… later…
Day 3 – Doing a Bonnie Tyler… again
Thursday 11 June 2015
Got up early intending to get on the road quickly…. HA! By the time I’d had breakfast, cleaned the wildlife off the front of my bike, tried to get my phone, iPad and camera batteries charged up it was 11 o’clock. The satnav is still playing up so having to navigate by map and road signs… I’ve got 3 different navigation apps on my phone and they all need wifi….. Just sooooo frustrated and it’s bloody raining….. Triple grrrrrr
As it was so late had to miss visiting La Rochelle and the Ille de Rei as planned and get straight on to the motorway. I even went on a toll road to try and make up some time. Next overnight stop is a place called Condom… Yep…. just because of the name.
On the way I stopped on the motorway for lunch and petrol. The service cafe was a bit confusing, self service salads, cold meats, chips, vegetables and deserts, but no plates. There were small plates for the salads etc. but I wanted a portion of chips and couldn’t find a plate. In the end I asked what to do and it seems you pick your salad, desert, coffee etc., go to the pay desk and then order your hot meal and pay, they give you a ticket which you then take to the hot food counter and they prepare it for you… Bit long winded really.
Back on the road and at least the rain has stopped. Down as far as Bordeaux, must be time for a bit of HD shopping. Had a look at the helmets but none of the ones I liked were my size. I realise now that my helmet is too big, that’s why I am having a problem…. My head has shrunk! Still, picked up a couple of bits.
Keep trying the satnav to check if it is now working, but still playing up. Trying to avoid another toll… The last one was €14. I decide to follow the compass in the satnav to head SE towards Condom. For a while I’m following the Bordeaux Vin route….. More Chateau than you can shake a stick at, it really is very picturesque. I did take some video while I was riding, but I cannot get it to upload onto my iPad… Will keep trying. Suddenly, in trying to avoid the A62 toll road, I am heading towards Pau, which is the wrong part of the Pyrenees, so I take a left turn and.. lol and behold, I’m lost – in France as Bonnie would say. Next thing I’m in the forest surrounded by trees… obviously… and all I can think about is some bloody deer jumping out and crashing into me. I’ve got to get out of here. At last I find my way back to civilisation… phew!
Its getting late now, after I promised myself I would have a short day… and Im still 40 miles from Condom so decide to try and find a hotel… no such luck, it seems this is a very popular holiday area. so eventually I get a hotel booked via my fav app – booking.com – in…. Condom.
Finally arrive at the hotel at 8.20
and its lovely. now to find somehere to eat. There’s a restaurant next door but the menu is fixed price either 45 or 60 euros… no way, especially as I only eat a small amount. So decide to see what I can find. Walked all around and whilst it is a lovely town
It’s as dead as a dodo….nothing… It must be the only place in the world that doesn’t have a maccy d’s, chinese/indian or kebab takeaway… I can’t even find a tabac!!! There’s one petrol station and that’s closed. I give up. I did find an estate agent, so if you want a chateau in the country and lots of peace and quiet, here’s your chance…
Only 450,000 euros
So goodnight Condom and all….
Day 4 – Weather the weather…. Whatever
Friday 12 June 2015
Again up early to try and get away…. Didn’t bother with the wee beasties and the phone etc all charged up overnight so just need to get brekkie, pack the bike and go…. Errrrr… Where’s the bike keys? OMFG, where have I put them… Nope not in the room, think I last saw them when I was checking in and put my helmet and gloves on the chair in reception. Ask at reception but no keys handed in. The woman in charge asks where my bike is? “outside in the car park”. Next thing she is marching outside so I follow looking and feeling totally stupid. Get to the bike and the keys are sitting on top of the pack in plain sight…. All night – Seriously!!! I’m getting old.
So after all that kerfuffle it’s now 9.30 and I manage to get away at 10. I have discovered that EE now make one pay for data whilst roaming, so have bought a package, which allows me to use one of the navigation apps on my phone so should be able to find my way now. I have set up the route to Andorra la Vella and the app gives me several options as to the type of route I want. I have selected scenic and wait with breath baited.
It’s a beautiful day, very warm and sunny… Cracking. Apart from a few misunderstandings the app is actually brilliant, the only downside is that I don’t have any way to attach my phone to the bike so I have to keep the phone in my pocket, which means I can’t see the screen. The app does give me plenty of warning for each turn… Better than my garmin! I also have a gadget to allow me to charge the phone on the bike while I’m using it…. However it doesn’t seem to be working 🙁
The route is fantastic… Lots of great riding and I really am enjoying it.
After about 60 miles am getting serious bum ache, despite the new air pad, I think it’s because I don’t have any bum left so it makes the base of my spine really painful if I sit for too long. Eventually I have to stop, but, unfortunately the cafe I choose doesn’t seem to have any food, only drinks. Never mind, I sit outside in the sunshine to enjoy a large cappucino and the break.
Start ascending into the Pyrenees and the roads are becoming twistier; I switch on the camera to capture the fantastic ride. All is going great when suddenly it routes me up a goat track… Well not quite, but it is very narrow, steep and extremely twisty… No don’t like it. Soon I’m back on a normal road and very happy to be so. Still climbing upwards I stop at this town, Massat, for a coffee and something to eat:
and discover the camera hasn’t been on so no record of the fabulous roads I’ve been riding this morning… boo hoo.
It’s starting to get a bit chilly now, as I climb higher, and cloudier; well we know what that means, no sooner have I left Massat than the app starts me up another Goat path… oooh not happy about that and what’s worse is that about a mile later it starts to pelt it down. I spend at least 15 minutes climbing into the romper suit and covering all the bags. That’s it, methinks, no more scenic today, I just want to get there in one piece. I change to the fast route and even though it doesn’t take me onto a motorway, it does at least leave the goats alone.
Once I’m back on the non goat herd roads the rain stops and the sun comes out, but I’m not changing out of the wetgear, I’ve been over the Pyrenees before!!! Onwards and upwards. As I get to about 1000m elevation it starts to rain again, like monsoon, big fat drops coming down in rods and the road is awash in places. I pass 2035m so am in the mile high plus club again and soon crossing the border into Andorra… not getting the camera out in this!!
When the road starts to drop down towards the city the rain stops…. great. I’m a bit surprised I have not had any instructions from the app for a little while so assume the phone battery is dead. I head for centre ville and park the bike, it’s now 7pm so not too bad. Yep the battery is dead and no signal on my ipad, how am I going to find the hotel? I’m pretty sure it is in the centre, so decide to ride around looking for it, then it starts raining again, seriously honking it down… deep joy. After a while I park again to see if I can ask someone, then I spot a city map on a billboard so have a look. The city is actually the size of a small town so everything is pretty much in the centre, however my hotel is on the other side. Well to cut a long story short I was almost ready to give up and find another room when I see a sign for it… hurrah… and its only 9pm!!!
Hotel is ok, not the best but clean and the staff are fantastic. There is underground parking so at least the bike is safe and dry. They even lend me an umbrella to use when I go out to eat… so friendly.
I ordered pork chop and chips… absolutely enormous… look
Hi Padraigin, it’s Jo from Aerograffiti. Great photography and commentary, brings me right back to 2012 when Mark & I rode down to Barcelona. The weather was so bad we skipped going over the Pyrenees but it was glorious once we hit Spain, went over them coming back and it was spectacular! Have you visited Montserrat (Spain)? Really worth it: a monastery balanced on a geographical pink jelly. Anyway I hope it’s ok to talk shop so here is a link to a quick vid that shows off the sparkle spray out samples, https://youtu.be/XvhoZEbRhwk I took it in sunlight and walked around it so you get angles…. sorry its a bit blair-witch but it’s my virgin debut using movie on my slr. Let me know which sample catches your fancy or not! Good riding and hope the sun shines – Jo
Day 5 – Hic!
Saturday 13 June 2015
No rush today, want to see if I can get a brackety thing to attach my phone to the handlebars. Several shops later it seems my iphone 6 is too big for the brackets available… I give it one last try and do get something. It doesnt really fit but a few cable ties later and et voila!
Looks a bit pony, (rhyming slang… pony and trap), but it’ll do the job til I can get the gps sorted out. I also got the tools out and fixed the phone charger thing so that’s working now yippee.
Next stop Andorra Harley Davidson, which just happens to be on the way to Spain, how fortunate. With the phone on the bike it’s so much easier to find my way so arrive no prob. No helmets for me here either 🙁
Just by the bike is a pile of dog poo… And I thought Andorra was so clean. Just sorting my stuff out ready to go and… Yep you guessed it… Right into the grooves on the sole of my left boot… Lots of swearing follows, as I’m sure you can imagine. Manage to clean most of it off… And then it starts to rain a bit, of course, so that’ll clean the rest off.
As I pull away I see that some of the functions on my speedometer aren’t working… The speedo is working but not the trip counter etc. I’m not sure if it was like that when I left the hotel or it has just happened.. Will have to take a look at it later. So at last I’m back on the road… And it’s only 3pm.
It’s not too long before I am at the Spanish border, stop for a couple of piccies…
As I ride through the customs shed on the Spanish side a young gardia civil woman pulls me over. As I get off the bike I hear something about camera… She is speaking in Spanish of course… I think she is referring to the gopro on top of my helmet so point at it and she says si si. I take my helmet off and she says something about off… So I turn it off… She then beckons a colleague over and he has a few more english words and says I must delete the recording as it is illegal to record them. To be honest I didn’t realise it was still on. Anyway I delete it and they seem satisfied, she tells me if I did not delete it and used it then I could go to prison…. Oops
Back on the bike and start to make my way towards Tarragona. Interesting bell tower… Weight watchers or the 5:2? Discuss…
I didn’t sleep very well last night so am very tired. After a while I feel like it isn’t safe to continue so break out my trusty booking.com app and find a nearby room. I ride to Belltall where the hotel is, only 6 miles further on, and arrive to find it says Hostel Cal Feliuet over the door…. err not sure about this. Still it’s somewhere to sleep and only €36 so better get on with it. I go in and the chap behind the bar looks a bit surprised… needless to say, I’m sure he doesn’t often see anyone like me. He doesn’t habla inglese and my spanish is still crap but we manage to communicate and he shows me to my room. It is pretty basic, but clean and spacious so am happy… At least it’s not a dorm.
Turns out he is a real sweetie… he comes back up to my room about 5 minutes later and asks if I want to put the bike in his garage.. oh yes please, safe and dry again. I manage to arrange dinner for 7pm and he shows me into the restaurant, I’m the only customer. The food is excellent and I order a glass of wine, or I thought I’d ordered a glass of wine, he brings a full bottle. I can’t refuse as he has opened it so end up drinking about 3/4. Now I don’t drink as a rule so am pretty squiffy after the first 2 glasses, hence the Hic! in the title. In fact I am so pissed I just go straight to bed and am actually typing this on Day 6, (Saturday), when I discover that the film of the customs didn’t delete… shhh don’t tell anyone.
Discover the ‘hostel’ has a website… http://www.calfeliuet.com
Day 6 – Flash Floods!!
Sunday 14 June 2015
In the morning, after a light breakfast, I have a look at the speedo. I checked on google and someone has had the same problem.. the solution is to remove the main fuse from the box under the seat, count to 10, replace it and turn the bike on. I follow this to the letter, but still the same problem. Meanwhile I have been joined by an elderly gentleman whom I assume to be Mr Hostels father. He is jabbering at me in spanish so I try to tell him no habla espanol, habla inglese, but to no avail… he continues to jabber whilst watching me intently. I point at the speedo and say ‘mucho problemo’ – I’m not even sure if this is spanish or spanglish – he nods though and smiles benignly. I decide to try the fuse trick again… yay it works, mucho reliefo, (that is deffo spanglish… no I didn’t say it to him).
As I am packing the bike up it starts to rain again… sigh! unpack the romper suit, climb into it, repack the bike… all with grandpop looking on, he obviously thinks this is better than telly, as does the daughter/daughter in law who also pops in for a look. The room/dinner/wine/breakfast come to 68 euros.. so much for a cheap night! I did like staying there so not going to grumble.
On the road by 9.30 and heading for Valencia. The rain’s not too bad, anything is better than Andorra on Sea. I decide a visit to Tarragona Harley Davidson is in order, but have a job finding it. The satnav on the phone is fantastic, I think it is much better than the garmin, but whilst it is routing me to the right address, (I googled it), HD just isn’t there. Oh Oh here we go again, the mysterious case of the missing HD shops Watson. I decide to go around again.. then spot a shop called Trik Chop… ah I’ll ask in there. As I pull up outside I see that it is indeed the Harley shop… thats a bit unusual. Still nothing I like in the helmet department, but I did manage to find something else…. hehe
Back on the bike and on my way to Valencia. I decide to visit Salou, I went there on holiday some 35 years or so ago… mmm wonder if it’s changed?? Ugh! typical tourist town, not my cuppa at all. Rain has stopped now but the roads are really wet. Am riding along the sea front and a couple of times the bike slips under me… heart attack time… I think it’s when I ride over the white painted sections of the zebra crossings, (of which there are hundreds), so I slow to a crawl and make sure I only ride over the tarmac sections. Since I came off the bike in Spain 2 years ago, am very wary of riding in the wet; especially in Spain. This seems to do the trick and it doesn’t happen again, phew!
Once clear of Salou I keep to the coast road for about 40 miles and then decide I need a good blat so pull onto the autopista, not realising its a toll road.. oh well nevermind. Bombing along at 85 does wonders for my confidence so bugger the toll.
Stop for petrol and something to eat, then route the satnav to Valencia HD. Arrive about 6.45 believing it is open until 8pm… nope, shut… damn! I spot a starbucks and park up to get a coffee and sort out tonights accommodation. All sorted; I manage to get a 4 star hotel for 36 euros, via the wonderful booking.com, I do definitely recommend it. Just as I get back to the bike it starts to thunder and lightning, better get the romper suit back on methinks. I only manage to get the jacket half on when the heavens open… it’s even worse than Andorra, absolutely unbelieveable.
I try to shelter in a doorway but it is so heavy there is a flash flood in minutes. I run round the corner to see if I can find anywhere a little dryer to put the trousers on. Luckily there is a shop where I can get sorted. Once done it’s back to the bike and on the road. The rain has eased off slightly and before long has stopped. Arrive at the hotel, which is very nice ineed. Apparently the rooms are normally 98 euro a night so mega deal! They’ve got a swimming pool mmm might go for a dip in the morning. Of course everything is wet again, all draped around the room drying out; the bathroom is really warm so put the boots in there hoping they will dry out by morning.
Ok off to bed now. Zzzzzzzzzzz
Day 7 – Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside…
Monday 15 June 2015
Not a very interesting day… Perhaps none of them are. Anyway, for those of you with no life, had a late start, there’s no rush… Only 500 miles to go in 4 days so can afford to take it easy. Got up, the sun is splitting the decks… Hurrah! So I finished the BSL for day 5 and 6… Mooched about a bit, packed up the bike, had a coffee and left about 12.30ish. The bike is minging, I must take her for a quick wash and brush up.
Am heading towards Murcia today, see where the road takes me. After about 20 miles I think I better stop and clean this dirty grrl. Spent about an hour in a garage, but not as good as it could be… Will do until I arrive at the HOG rally… Am planning to enter her into the custom bike show so will need to go the whole HOG, (pun intended), and clean her to death. It’s really warm so leave the leather jacket off and just wear the cutoff.
On the way the satnav decides to route me up another dirt track… What is it with the allotment route??
Other than that, a pretty uneventful ride and after about 150 miles, with a stop for petrol and some grub, decide to head to the coast, I fancy some sea, sand and sangria, enough mountains and rain aready!
Turn left and head towards Alicante then turn right down the coast… except there isn’t a coast road here, so have to travel inland for a while before turning back towards the Med. It’s now coming up 7pm and have 160 miles on the clock today so that’s enough methinks. Stop to find a hotel… Find something in Guardamar del Segura just 7 miles down the road, €36 again, obviously the magic number; good old booking.com
I was hoping to stay in a small enclave by the sea, but no such luck. It’s quite a sizeable town and very touristy, the first two languages I hear are English and German, but at least I have a bed for the night. The room is ok, probably not the best so far, but again is clean and has air conditioning so that’s good. I also have a weeny balcony, overlooking the street… Ugh, but at least I can keep an eye on the bike as no secure parking here.
Am enjoying a glass of red and some peanuts as I type this… Tomorrow is going to be a rest day, well sort of. One of the rear indicators has worked itself loose so will attend to that tomorrow. Will probably ride down the coast a bit and see if I can find that elusive enclave to sit and paint and chill for the day… Well here’s hoping.
Day 8 – Luvverly Lluvia
Tuesday 16 June 2015
Despite planning a day off I am up fairly early. Into the shower… err yuck! Black mould in the jets of the shower head and on the ceiling…. Legionnaires anyone? This is deffo the worst hotel this trip, so far.
Left around 11 looking for the coast road. Nothing doing so join the main road and head towards Cartegena. Here is a short clip of me on the bike in the glorious sunshine on the road to Torrevieja… well there will be when I can get it to upload to you tube!
Torrevieja is just holiday home hell… for me anyway… no I have to get out of here! Think I’ll give up on the day at the beach, I’ll go shopping instead! Plot a route to Murcia Harley Davidson and no sooner am I off the main road than it routes me up the allotments again;
This road is bloody terrible, its like riding on a washboard; I’ve no idea why it is routing this way, I even set it for fastest time, (but avoiding tolls).
At last a smooth road, thought I was going to be on that all the way to Murcia.
Arrive at the shop, it’s shut of course… closed at 2pm, it’s now 2.30, and doesn’t open again until 5! It is soooo hot, I sit in the shade to let the bike cool down a bit. Suddenly a bloke comes out of the Harley shop… ooooo maybe he’ll let me in. No such luck, he nods approvingly at the bike and walks off. I think I might as well sort that wobbly indicator out, so strip the saddlebag off on that side as I will have to loosen the mudguard bracket… oh no, I don’t have a ratchet with me; I’ve got the allen key sockets but no rachet to put them on… that means I can’t get the bracket off. It’s no good I’ll have to buy one.. I mean how hard can it be??
I make my way back to the main road and head towards Cartegena hoping to spot a tool shop or a Carrefour… yay, theres a big poster for Carrefour that says it just 12 minutes further on. Great. Unfortunately they dont have the size I need, so will have to try elsewhere.
Where next? Well, I’m not having much luck with my plans today so guess I’ll get on the road towards Cadiz…next stop Granada or perhaps before as it’s about 150 miles, but I’m definitely going to get to the HD shop there in the morning!
Back on the bike and start going up into the mountains again. It now begins to get cooler and there are some very dark clouds on the horizon.. oh oh.
I stop to get petrol and put my jacket on as it is certainly too cold to ride in a tee. Just after a place called Lorca it starts to rain so as soon as I can I pull off to put the wetgear on. I stop outside a restaurant and decide I should eat something as it is now 4.30pm and I haven’t had anything yet. Before I can get what I want from the bike it begins to lash it down, so get wet again. I hoped the sun would return before I get back on the road, but no such luck. The rain has eased off a lot, but still need the romper suit. Whilst in the restaurant I book my overnight accommodation in a place called Baza, it’s about 60 miles away from Granada so that’s ok. Its another Hostel, which I have since found out is the equivalent of a guesthouse and not the same as a hostel in the UK… no dorms.
As I approach Baza the sun comes out so hopefully it bodes well for tomorrow. Yet again booking.com has come up trumps.. lovely helpful woman in reception who tells me they have a garage for the bike. It is round the back and a typical house lock-up, but my bike is the only thing in there – apart from an exercise bike – and she gives me the key. The room is good, there is a small fridge with a free bottle of water; a full litre no less. The receptionist told me its free so I’ll take it with me tomorrow. Have checked the shower and, whilst it’s not spotless, it’s certainly miles better than the one this morning.. last nights offering from booking.com was obviously an abherration.
There is a multi tut shop across the street so I have a quick look to see if they have got a ratchet… they do but it comes with a load of sockets I don’t want and is more than a bit crappy, but it will do the job, probably in the morning.
See you tomorrow…..
p.s. Lluvia – rain in Spanish.
Day 10 – Roasted leg anyone?
Thursday 18 June 2015
The plan today is to take it a bit easy…
First thing, after breakfast, ride over to Puerto Santa Maria where the Cadiz HD shop is based; Puerto Sherry is just a few miles from there. OMFG the phone routes me onto the A4 nowhere to turn round for 10 miles road again grrrrrrrr, that’s another unnecessary 20 miles!
Eventually arrive at HD. Nice shop but very expensive… No way I’m paying €78 for a tee shirt.
Next plan is to find a garage near to a cafe so I can have a coffee while the bike cools down then into the garage to give her a wash. No such luck as now it’s time to get lost and worse than that it’s really hot today so am wearing shorts. My right leg is being slow roasted by the engine and exhaust pipes… It is very painful… I must get out of here. I tell the phone to route me back to my hotel, but it’s still playing up so it takes ages to get out of the town centre, more leg anyone?
Once back at the hotel I take some time to cool down, both temper and temperature wise. I check on my phone for the nearest garage and there is one just 1.2 miles away… Must make sure not to turn onto the A4 again!!
Find the garage no prob… Give the bike a quick jet wash, buy some water and head back to the hotel.
It’s now 2pm… Guess I’d better eat.. There are some nice cafés at the rally site so decide to ride over. The first café doesn’t have anything I want so try another one. They are only serving drinks and ice cream so have a coffee and 2 boules of ice cream, which make me feel sick… One of the downsides to the op… You think I would know better by now.
Here is Puerto Sherry before the invasion tomorrow…
Spend about 2 hours there then promptly get lost again… Seriously!!
I actually end up at MacDonalds… I just cannot face another trial to get some decent food.
Finally get back to the hotel about 7.30 and am really knackered, so sorry no BSL for yesterday and today.
Must up early to go to the rally site and pick up my prepaid rally goodies… Oh I’ll also have a good look around the market stalls and other tents as the rally starts tomorrow.
Day 11 – Where be them Hoggies?
Friday 19 June 2015
Arrived at the site about 10am… A bit late really so was expecting a ginormous queue for the wrist bands and rally packs. That’s odd… There’s not very many bikes here… Usually there are several hundred the first day, if not more… Where is everyone???
The queue is short so am swiftly through the process and have my wristband; now to get my rally pack… No queue at all… This is weird!
Have a wander down to the market place… Dead…
Into a tent where they will stitch on your rally patch, just €5, well she said 5 and he, (the guy doing the sewing), says 7… A short interaction in French ensues, (they are from France and at every rally), so am not sure how much it will be. While I’m waiting I pick up a keyring that hooks onto your pocket… Niiiiice. In the end the sewing costs €5 so obviously she won the altercation. Look around the rest of the stalls… Not as many as usual, but they all sell the same tut anyway… Millions of tee shirts, waistcoats, jeans, gloves, leather bags etc etc. mostly black; since losing the weight am trying to introduce colour into my wardrobe, nothing here for me really.
Think I’ll get something to drink and maybe some lunch… There is a terrace at the hotel reserved for HOG members, (that’s Harley Owners Group btw), and I make my way there. It is absolutely empty, not a soul… This is spooky… They have a buffet so I have a look in, it’s €30, which is a bit pricey but seems very nice and includes a barbecue and 2 drinks. The terrace is in the shade and I think it’s a good place to plot up for a while, so hang the expense, I’ll treat myself.
I’m the only customer, then about half an hour later a group of Italians appear and shortly after a group of 4 event staff… That’s it! The food and service is impeccable, but what a waste…. They must be fuming.
I spend about 2 hours there, very relaxing. Time to make a move. Wander down to the market area again, still don’t buy anything. Usually the stalls are cheaper than the shops, so I have a look in HD Cadiz’ tent; nope same price as the shop, they do have some old rally tees for sale at €15 a pop, but who wants a tee from a rally you haven’t been to?
Still very few people here so decide to make my way back to the hotel… Get lost again, this is getting old.
Have to admit am feeling down today, there’s zero atmosphere at the rally and am left wondering why I’m here. Yes I love the riding and visiting different countries, but the rally is just an excuse, a destination so why oh why am I staying here for 4 days??? If it wasn’t for having to eat and find accommodation I wouldn’t speak to anyone, so am feeling a bit lonely. (Except Glo if course, we speak everyday on facetime, which is really great… The wonders of modern technology). I don’t know if I can even be bothered to enter the bike into the custom show tomorrow…. See how I feel in the morning.
Nite nite 🙁
Day 12 – Braw Hoggies frae Bonnie Scotland
Saturday 20 June 2015
Get up and decide, what the hell… I will put the bike into the custom show, at least it’s something to do. I give her a quick clean up… Rid the wildlife off the front at least, then make my way to the rally site. Lost again… I’m not even going to talk about it cos it’s just grrrrrrrrrrr……!
Arrive at the site, park up and go look for some info about the show. I ask in the HOG information tent, but the woman doesn’t know so wait for her to wander off and find someone to help. There does seem to be a few more people here today, but nothing like the usual number… Strange. Eventually she comes back with a bloke who looks about 11 in tow, he tells me where I need to be, so off I trot.
I need to bring the bike to them and then they will fill in the paperwork. As I pull up on the bike, a woman shrieks, ‘that’s my bike’ omg people will think I’ve pinched it! It seems Zoe used to own my bike and she is delighted that I am putting it in the show. She thinks it should win, biased or what, and is very appreciative of the few touches I have added. She is actually lovely and helps to lift my spirits.
I park the bike in the ‘Ladies of Harley’ category, I’m the only one so far, and proceed to polish the chrome. It is baking hot and the show is in a bright white amphitheater, it’s absolutely roasting.
As people pass by, they make appreciative noises and some even take photos, good boys. Suddenly I am joined by another bike… I recognise that v-rod… Blimey it’s Elaine from Scotland, we met in Portugal, (see 2012 for details).
I immediately say hello and ask if she remembers me… She does… How lovely to meet up with her again. Then along comes hubby, who says straight away, you’ve lost weight, to which Elaine says,… I was gonna say the same but didnae want to. I explain that I’ve had an op and it seems so has their mate, Jimmy, who I also met in Portugal, he’s lost about 10 stones too. Anyway they wander off and I continue to polish the bike. Once I’m satisfied with it I’m feeling dehydrated and need a drink so make my way towards the HOG terrace. I can’t really afford the buffet today, but I see another buffet has opened up at €15 a go so I have a look in and it seems good. Only 1 drink included and no barbecue, but again is in the shade and I do have 6 hours to kill.
Finish lunch and am heading back to the bike when I bump into Lynn, (Italy 2010) and Derna… small world or what! Lovely to see them.
After checking the bike I walk back towards the HOG Terrace and past it to the smaller bars and cafes on the quayside. Stop at one for a drink as the view is nice. After waiting ages for a waiter I go into the bar to order an orange juice… No juice… Ok water then 🙁 what about the wifi… No wifi :-(( ok I get my water and sit in the shaded area on the quayside. The bill comes, €1, not bad… I’ve only got a €2 coin so turn to my neighbour behind me to ask if they can change it for me…. Woah! It’s only Alex and Jimmy, two of the scots… We start chatting and soon we are joined by Elaine. They are such lovely people and I feel so comfortable with them. They are like me, ordinary folk who love their bikes and touring, we get on really well.
Of course Elaine and I are rivals in the bike show and to be honest I think she should win it, her bike is so good and unusual as its a v-rod. However, E tells me about this other bike that always wins.. The story goes that Steven Tyler from a band called Aerosmith had this very bike built for his wife and then when they divorced took it back and sold it. This couple from Spain then bought it and have been touting it round the shows ever since. Of course with that kind of provenance it wins all the time, but I have to say I think it’s horrible… It has diamanté rhinestones, pink ones, stuck all over it FFS… Yuck!!! Seriously yuck!!!
That’s it… next to mine.
There is a fourth bike in the category, it’s quite nice, but still not my taste. I’m still convinced E will win.
We spend the rest of the afternoon together, killing time til the results of the show. Alex has got his bike in it too… That’s a seriously lovely bike, the detail is fantastic, I especially love the leather work. He likes to surprise people when they are looking at the bike… It has remote control air suspension so without warning will suddenly rise upwards confusing onlookers as they don’t know Alex has the remote.
The results are in… Alex gets 2nd place behind a Lithuanian trailered bike (a bike that has been brought in not ridden), diamanté Doris wins the Ladies of Harley Category and we go over to see who has got second place. Elaine feels sure it will be the other Spanish bike, whilst I think it will be her. I am truly gobsmacked because my bike has got second place! Elaine, Alex and Jimmy couldn’t be more delighted for me… What lovely people they are.
I have to ride it up a ramp onto a platform to receive my prize and a photo with Bill Davidson… Err who? One of the Davidson family, but not sure which one.
The MC then announces me as the winner… Christina from Espania.. Um no Ireland, second place, Padraigin… He obviously can’t face trying to say my name so just shouts Ireland a few times. Bill shows me my trophy and says I can collect it later, then it’s all over. I am so made up… What a fantastic day I’ve had.. Such good company too. Thanks to Elaine for taking the photos for me… If I hadn’t bumped into them today I wouldn’t have a record of it so it must be fate.
Back to the hotel… Lost again… Quick shower and change then out to meet up with the guys for a drink. Met up in a small bar, very busy with mostly local people. Later on there’s a live group performing with lots of clapping and very loud singing, but it’s great to see young spaniards really enjoying traditional music.
Late back to hotel… Plan to meet up with the guys in the morning for the traditional bike parade… Um better do my packing now then. Yawn, am so tired…. Zzzzz
Day 13 – Scorcher!
Sunday 21 June 2015
Struggle to get up this morning after the late night…. Get downstairs to start packing up the bike only to find that one of the other bikers staying here has decided to wash his bike down with a hose… He doesn’t bother to move his bike, which is parked next to mine and sprays water all over the bike I spent hours cleaning yesterday!! She is now full of chalky water splashes… Inconsiderate b@&£#%} and then to add insult to injury, when I remark on it, he offers me a rag to clean the bike myself….. Fume fume.
Time is marching on and I don’t think I’ll make it to meet up with Elaine, Alex and Jimmy for the ride. Elaine texts me a few times to let me know what is happening so I do my very best to get everything done… Fit windscreen, tool roll, air seat pad, panniers etc etc. at last I’m leaving at about 10.20… The ride is due to leave at 10.30, but they never go on time so still try to make it. For the first time the satnav doesn’t get lost… I arrive at the rally site, but no-one is there. Text from E says they are at the camp site…. Err where? Then I spot a biker talking to one of the event people who seems to be giving directions…. Follow that bike methinks. Yep he obviously knows where he’s going and pretty soon there are 5 or 6 of us following him.
Manage to make it and catch the tail end of the parade. Slowly make my way through the bikes, remembering to switch on the gopro… Film here soon, when I’ve edited it.
Ride with an Irish chapter group for a few miles, then continue to thread my way through looking for the Scots. At last I find them and continue with them for the rest of the ride. After some 50 miles we end up in Jerez de la Frontera and pull up in a lovely cobbled street. Everyone is boiling hot and desperate for a drink so we sit in a small cafe. We seem to have lost Jimmy in the last few miles and it turns out he is in a different part of Jerez.
Now it’s time to say our goodbyes. It has been great and thanks to you all for allowing me into your company, I hope we will all meet again soon, maybe at Thunder in the Glens or Irish Bike Week… Who knows?
So I set the satnav for La Linea, the last stop on my journey before Gibraltar. It is sooooo hot and incredibly windy riding through the hills from Jerez to La Linea… Not only was the parade a scorcher on my leg.. again… But the air itself is scorching too this afternoon. I stop for petrol and some water and the phone packs up… It says it’s overheating and needs to cool down…eek! It does revive after a few miles, so I don’t get lost, for a nice change.
Arrive at the hotel, which is very nice. It has a small outdoor pool so the first thing I do is go for a swim… Lovely jubbly.
Into Gib tomorrow and the end of the journey…
Sad but glad as will see Glo on Monday… Am looking forward to it.
Ciao Bella xx
Day 14 – Gibraltar.. home from home
Monday 22 June 2015
Just 5 miles to go across the border from Spain into Gibraltar and on to my apartment.
Take my time this morning… well I do have all day. Decide to clean the chalky water splash marks off the bike before I go so end up leaving about 12.30ish.
It’s another glorious day and before I know it am parking up outside the apartment building. I’ve forgotten to bring the keys to the apartment, but luckily Jill and John, who look after it for us, have the spare set… whew!
So what’s the verdict?
A great ride… shame about the weather the first week… pretty wet… think it is the wettest tour I have had so far.
So here is the usual breakdown:
England x 1
France x 1
Andorra x 1
Spain x 1
Gibraltar x 1
Total distance travelled – 2170.5 miles
Ferry – £144 (one way) including cabin
Accommodation – £426.39 average £35.53 per night
Food – £178.67 average £13.74 per day an odd coffee I didn’t get a receipt for so really £15 per day
Fuel – £228.41 average £16.32
Toll Roads – £26.80
Shopping – myob still
France – from Condom to Massat.. lots of twistys on the way, shame I didn’t put the camera on.
Spain – back route from Torrevieja to Murcia
Best HD Dealership
All were good, except…
Worst HD Dealership
Cadiz… sooooo expensive with Granada a close second
Tactica by C&R, Valencia, Spain of course… I mean a €98 room for €36 what do you expect?
Eden Mar, Guardamar del Segura, Spain – Ugh!
Favourite Country Visited
Gibraltar, but I’m biased
Least Favourite Country Visited
Andorra, but mainly because of the weather, not being able to find the hotel and standing in dog shit
What I Would Do Again
Still travel on Brittany ferries… so good.
Ride in France
What I Wouldn’t Do Again
If I go to another HOG European rally I won’t stay for such a long time… although it turned out great in the end, so mmmm have to think about this one.
What to Remember for the Next Trip
Update the Garmin Maps
Bracket for the GoPro mount
Check toolkit is complete
Switch the bloody GoPro on for the good bits
I understand lots of people had a problem leaving comments, including my partner, its seems Blogger, as part of Google, requires an account to leave comments… if you wanted to leave a comment and couldn’t please do send it to me by email and I will upload it. Will look into moving the blog elsewhere next time. (Now moved to WordPress http://www.pogshogs.com)
Great photos! What a fabulous adventure. Sorry I haven’t logged in but my iMac is poorly and working from my iPad. Look forward to seeing you soon x
I just typed something and it disappeared.
Good evening, You look fabulous! I was going to say something cheeky such as who’s the skinny chic with long hair translating your blog, but then I thought better of it. How very exciting to be speeding off to Spain. How long is your trip? Do you have places booked or will you play it by ear? Safe trip across to France and let us know you’ve landed safely x
That’s odd I was replying but it disappeared… Like me…. 😉
Have booked a hotel in La Rochelle tomorrow night and four nights in Cadiz but otherwise am winging it. Boat is very smooth so expect to arrive safe in St Malo tomorrow morning. Take care xx