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Home Ren's Biking Blog

Flapping About Spain Part 1

Blog Date - 28 April 2018

I am not a natural traveller. This doesn't come easy to me. I am by nature something of a home boy. I like my comfort zone and stepping out of my comfort zone makes me uncomfortable - logically enough. 

When I know I'm going to step out of my comfort zone I flap. Not panic, flap. What's the difference? From my perspective panic is sudden, like when you realise you've come into that bend too fast or remember that you've driven off and left you child in Tesco. Flapping is gradually getting more and more stressed about what is coming.

Sharon in her bike gear has her arms up in the air
Bikers cannot fly no matter how much they flap their arms.

I have been to Spain once before, that was 13 years ago and it was my first foray abroad on two wheels (Spain And The Faro Rally 2005). I was as green as spring grass back then but I survived and learned a great deal. It was quite a while before we went back into Europe and that was only just across the water to Normandy (Normandy, France 2011). The next 2 years I then we returned to France (France, Germany And Belgium 2012 and France 2013) before our last sojourn to The Netherlands in 2016 (The Netherlands 2016)

The NTV600 Revere ready to go to Spain in 2005
Back in 2005 was my first trip abroad on two wheels.

I've been abroad on the bike 5 times before so this is not my first rodeo as they say. Then again it's not like I'm doing this every few weeks or months, I'm not world wise, experienced and travel hardened. 

When I was younger I used to flap about forthcoming trips in the UK. When I was in my early 20s and doing the bike rallies I might only be going to Blackpool or Stafford but as far as I was concerned this was the edge of the world! I was miles and miles and miles from home and I was in a strange place and I didn't know where the shops were and I might get lost and I might never see my family again. 

Now I think nothing of hopping on the bike and spending 2 nights under canvas in Muker. I'll happily pop down to Porthmadog for the night and to smell the steam trains. A trip to Norwich? Well I'll check the tyres and the oil before setting out but yeah, bring it on. Scotland you say? The Highlands is practically my second home - I'll pack my waterproofs and midge repellent.

Ren's 125 against a snowy Highland mountain backdrop
Take a 125 to The Highlands in winter? Oh, OK then.

Why can I do this? Because I've been doing it more and more for 15 years now. My comfort zone has slowly but surely grown from my town to my county to my area and then to the UK. Hell, even the idea of catching the Chunnel and spending the afternoon south of Calais wouldn't bother me too much. Except those damn Europeans and their insistence about driving on the wrong side of the road.

There are some among you reading this who may scoff. Ever since your youth you thought nothing of just hopping on your bike and taking a random trip to wherever your finances could take you with nothing more than a sleeping bag and a toothbrush. There was no fear of being lost or breakdown in a remote location because you just knew you could work something out. I envy your self confidence and your adventurous spirit.

Ed March and his C90 at the Manchester Bike Show
Some people will ride a C90 around the world. 

Or....do I? Regular readers may notice I have a thing about everything being relative. The good thing about stepping out of my comfort zone is I grow and learn and as long as I survive I get a sense of achievement. Well if the whole world has become your comfort zone where do you go to next? If everything is easy what do you do to get yourself excited and hyped up?

I am flapping. Is the bike ready, am I ready, have I got the paperwork, what happens if I break down and so on and so on. I am flapping, perhaps this is also my way of being excited? 


Is travel easy for you or hard and challenging? We'd like to share your thoughts on this website as a guest post. Contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

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Reader's Comments

pocketpete said :-
Dont flap to much Im sure it will be fine. Wish I was coming along. Hopefully If you give me a touch more notice and I can abandon wet damp midgy scotland for a sunny biking trip.
29/04/2018 05:32:48 UTC
Snod said :-
Spain yessss!! Anyway I always think of the people who used to do this kind of thing in the 70s and 80s, like my Dad who used to think nothing (well, kind of) of taking his Norton Commando to the south of France for a week with nothing but some paper maps. Now we have sat nav, mobile phones, European breakdown cover, bikes that don't need aftermarket main bearings to be semi-reliable - how hard can it be??

It'll be great, though you might have to change your tipple from tea.. The lager comes in big frosty glasses if that helps at all?
29/04/2018 10:10:38 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Some of us were still using our Commandos well into the 21st century and getting as far as Greece on them....

And as for semi-reliable my Norton always got me home. The only touch-and-go occasion was when Joe Lucas's alternator stator decided to fry itself in deepest France, taking an innocent rectifier with it.

As you say, paper map in the tank bag and no breakdown cover. What's the worst that can happen?
29/04/2018 13:13:54 UTC
Rod said :-
My memories of my commando are that it was a very good bike and enjoyable to ride, but reliability was not its strong point. Exhausts and carbs would shake loose and bulbs would blow most weeks, but it would always get me home with pockets full of spanners and locking wire,spare spark plugs ect. Good times!
29/04/2018 16:48:04 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Yes, I must admit one pannier was always full of spares and tools, the other books to read in the evenings (before Kindles), the top box riding gear for various conditions leaving the tank bag for a couple of changes of clothes......

I had my Commando for 20 years and over that time sorted out all the problem areas. It could still surprise me however, and did need rather more than a quick oil change every year.
30/04/2018 11:05:10 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Prey tell - if one pannier had spare, the other books, the top box waterproofs and the tank bag undies...where did the tent and the sleeping bag and the stove and the food go?
30/04/2018 11:20:38 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
And why would I want any of that rubbish when I'm staying in nice comfortable Logis de France?
30/04/2018 12:47:27 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
.... or even the Savoy in Rome?


30/04/2018 13:00:33 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
...obviously had too much money. I presume your earnings were gained by treading on the proletariat? We common folks have to sleep in tents while you, the landed gentry, surround yourself in luxury.
01/05/2018 09:57:39 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Not at all. As a matter of fact, I was attending a work meeting and took the opportunity to combine that with my trip to Greece. So the hotel was paid for by the EU Fourth Framework.

Actually, the Savoy was a bit of a dump. And being a meeting hosted by our Italian partners, it was all rather relaxed - start at around 10 am, break for coffee & pastries at 11 or so, break for lunch (well supplied with refreshments) at 12:30, resuming at 14:00, another coffee & pastry break at 15:00 to wind up at 16:00 or so when the more social among us would depart en masse for a posh restaurant while I roamed the back streets looking for a quirky little trattoria.
01/05/2018 11:14:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
"the EU Fourth Framework" - presumably some government organisation paid for by taxpayers...aka the proletariat. And it appears you were not working very hard while being funded by the hard working masses.

I know you're not really like that Ian but you can understand how that point of view can easily be manipulated into existence.
02/05/2018 10:14:35 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
The project was developing specifications for interoperability of healthcare systems (see link) so quite important and embedded in much useful work especially outside the UK.

The actual work was done away from the meetings which I have to admit were sometimes not very productive.

Sadly the UK decided to go its own way after Bill Gates met Tony Blair and convinced him that Microsoft could provide everything. This didn't actually turn out too well to everyone's great surprise.....

See also CEN TC/251 which developed European standards in the same field and of which I was also a member.......


www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7934300 ...
03/05/2018 10:55:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Sounds like a jolly at our expense! Pffffffft
03/05/2018 15:05:47 UTC
Sharon said :-
Ahhh Ian the U.S. National Library of Medicine is a resource I am very familiar with. It has served me well while researching my daughters very complex health issues. It has been a useful back up to prove to some doctors that unfortunately there knowledge is lacking.
I belive any work done for this organisation is stirling work so well done for your participation.
04/05/2018 00:23:55 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Thanks Sharon. Ren obviously needs educating......
04/05/2018 09:50:36 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I am edumicated. I know about fings innit. I is a genius. I haves me a website wot proves just how well edificated I is. I is just misunderstud.
04/05/2018 10:12:31 UTC
 

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