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Home Travel StoriesSpain And The Faro Rally 2005 - By Ren Withnell

Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 1

It's Saturday the 9th of July, in the morning. I wake to find myself alone in bed. The gf, whose house I'm at, must not have been able to sleep again and is probably downstairs on a mound of cushions in some unusual position that she has finally found comfortable. There are butterflies in my stomach and I feel slightly quesy. A visit to the toilet reveals I am indeed nervous. Sure enough the gf is wide awake and reading at a most unusual angle. She smiles to me and we kiss. Breakfast is porridge and a cup of tea, which I eat quickly, anxious to be getting on with it.

The hallway is full of gear and I get the bike out and load her up. She looks quite impressive fully laden, I imagine myself as some great world traveller setting off on another journey to some far flung and long forgotten part of the world, romantically gliding across dusty trails and meeting with people from ancient and mystical cultures. Realistically I'm worrying about have I got everything, is everything sorted here in the UK, blah blah blah.

It's time to say goodbye to the gf. I feel really sad that I'm leaving her when she might be in her hour of need. Despite her constant reassurance I'm going to worry. I also ask myself as I kiss her goodbye, will I ever see her again. I take a long look at her face, trying to imprint her image into my mind while I start the bike up. I roll away.

When I ride a bike, thoughts come rushing in. As the M56 and the A49 come into view my thoughts are predictable, things like did I switch the gas off and lock the back door, have I got all my paperwork, will the stove rattle around in the backbox too much, all the normal worries. Soon my mind turns to thoughts of a more philosophical nature. I'm pondering about travel. Why do I want to travel? I've never been a good traveller, as a child I would be the one asking "Are we nearly there yet?" and getting all stressed and bored if there were delays or problems.

When I grew up and got into bikes I did do several long runs, to Bath and Bristol to see my brother, and to Brighton to see my dad. These would cause me to be nervous. I'd worry about the bike being ok and not letting me down, I'd worry about whether I'd left everything at home in good order, stress about being on time at my destination and wonder if I'd miss anything back home. As a result of all this stress I would ride on and on and on until I was in so much pain I really hated just being on the road. This all changed about 6 years ago. I was to ride to Cornwall to visit a friend there, but to break the journey I was to stay with my brother and his wife in Bristol on the way down. I knew they would not be home until teatime, but due to my usual worrying I was on the road by 0900. The trip to Bristol is easily done in 4 hours, I was hopelessly early. I travelled about 30 miles and stopped for a brew and a toilet visit. I wandered around and got back on the road again. I repeated these stops every 30 to 50 miles, stopping at almost every service station on the way down. I noticed how much more fresh, comfortable and relaxed I was both on the road and in myself, I started to enjoy the journey. I still arrived in Bristol 2 hours early and amused myself by riding around the rather unpleasant city.

So as I travel down the A49 towards Whitchurch and Shrewsbury I stop in a layby and take time to look at the fields of hay and the woodland. Checking over the bike I notice the front tyre is a little more worn that I had thought it was, but I tried to convince myself there was enough rubber for the trip. Back on the road again. The towns of Shrewsbury and Ludlow are bypassed while my thoughts wander around between fear, excitement and sadness.

I roll into Leominster (pronounced "Lemster" apparently?) and I spot a supermarket. I park between the supermarket and the bus station and purchase myself a tin of Heinz Spaghetti Bologniase, a bottle of water and an apple. Sitting on a wall next to the bike in the burning sun I eat my apple and drink some water. Whilst there a tall slim bloke asks me if this is my bike. We briefly discuss his old Honda CB250N and it's woes until his partner drags him away into the shop. I listen to folks talking as they pass me and I'm surprised to hear most of them talk with the deep West-Country accent. I also visit the trendy new toilets on the bus station. These are the self cleaning type and I'm a little apprehensive as the door clicks shut behind me and a shiny stainless steel bowl still dripping from its cleaning process emerges from the wall. I do my business and look for a way out. Fortunately some boffin has realised not all folks are as smart as he or she is and has provided a big obvious button to open the door.

Back on the road into Hereford. I have been this way before on the A-roads before when travelling with an ex on her 125 with "L" plates, but I cannot remember the exact route details. I start to look for signs back to the M5 and pick up the M50 back towards Cheltenham and Gloucester. The M5 arrives and I pass the now familiar Michael Wood services. My final destination of Taunton is not far away now. It's hot and I'm starting to get uncomfortable on the bike. My feet ache and my bottom is quite painful, so I find myself shuffling around on the bike as much as I can. I'm dissapointed about this as the bike is renown for it's reliability and it's suitability for long journeys.

I come off the M5 at Taunton and start to look for a campsite for the night, the time is around 1530 and it's time to get settled. I start to ride around the small lanes and back roads north of Taunton and begin to worry I may never find a site, at one point I'm beginning to panic. Then a sign presents itself and the relief is tangible in my body. I follow the signs down a single lane then into what seems to be a farmyard. Just as I'm about to turn round I notice tents and caravans on the other side of the yard, relief again. I park the bike and look for some kind of reception. A friendly camper points me to the farmhouse and a tiny sign next to a doorbell reads "Press for Attention". I duly do this and a hardy-looking farmwife pleasantly informs me it's £3 for a pitch, and if I want a shower I'll need some tokens from her. I pay my pitch fees and ride the bike into the campsite and settle on a spot under a tree.

Putting the tent up for the first time is remarkably easy. When finished I'm more than impressed with it's size and the useful porch. In goes all the gear, including my self inflating ground roll, another effective and cheap purchase from Aldi. Then a female voice from behind says "Hello". I turn round to find a lady who I suspect is a bit younger than me and attractive in a quirky hippy kind of way. It turns out she lives in Renault camper van which is currently just across from me. I tell her about my trip and she tells me about her van, friends and lifestyle.

She's called Jelly. That's not her real name, it's her adopted hippy name. She's had a "normal" lifestyle in the past but it all went wrong and now she lives in her "truck" stopping at various sites around the Taunton and West Country. She has family and friends in the area and seems very well adapted to life in her van. I'm intrigued with her way of living as I like to consider different ways of living other than the house, family and career path most of us follow. She is off to a wedding reception soon and is going for a shower. I get out my stove, billet can and my tin of spaghetti and make my tea. I'm still really pleased with the stove.

After tea I see Jelly again and she asks me if I'd like to come to the reception with her. I decline, it would seem most odd being at a wedding reception not knowing anyone except Jelly, whom I've only know for an hour or so. I take a picture of her before she goes. I get on the bike to go and have a look at Taunton. It's a pretty town, not very big which suits me. Being Saturday night it's quite busy and after riding around I find a Witherspoons pub and park the bike up. I go in and get a large glass of coke and sit in the window to watch the locals. There's a bunch of biker-types laughing and joking, four girls who keep on looking at me and then outside at my bike, 2 ladies who seem deeply engrossed in some sort of meaningful conversation and the typical assortment of trendies, couples and groups you'd see on a night out in any town.

Jelly dressedup ready for her night out Jelly ready for her night out.

I finish my drink and contemplate trying to strike up a conversation with the biker types, but I'm not really feeling brave today. So I get back on my bike and head back to the campsite. Only there is one minor problem, I don't know my way back to the site. I feel I'm heading in the right direction as I leave town, but soon the minor back roads all start to look the same. I'm starting to have visions of spending the first night of my trip sleeping under a tree somewhere in the cold and never seeing my kit ever again. Of course, panic is starting to set in. But then in a flash I spot a car dealership I remember from my ride in and start to follow my original route, as best as my memory can serve me. It serves me well and I spot the sign with a huge sigh of relief.

In my tent again I straighten things out a bit, and wonder what to do with the remainder of the evening. Then I notice Jelly's van has a light on in it, so I go over and knock on the door. She invites me into her van, which is a crazy place. It's full of hippy trinkets and cloths and pictures and nestling between is a TV, small stove and the normal homely knick-knacks. We sit together in the strange shadows cast by fairy lights strung around the van. I Iearn she likes to do the big festivals like Glastonbury, knows many people and does not have any real plans for the future. I tell her about my trip, the gf and her back problems, my mundane existence up north and my love of bikes. The conversation flows smoothly but by midnight I can see she's tired so I excuse myself and go to my tent.

Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Preparation
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 1
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 2
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 3
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 4
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 5
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 6
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 7
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 8
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 9
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 10
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 11
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 12
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 13
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Day 14
Spain And The Faro Rally 2005 - Aftermath
Home Travel StoriesSpain And The Faro Rally 2005 - By Ren Withnell Random Link

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