Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018
Bodging Daaan Saaaf
By Ren Withnell
For 'tis the day of our departure. Nay, we are not departing Old England today, merely departing the grimy rain soaked place where we live. That'll be norf west Englund innit. Except...well...it's not raining here but according to the various internet weather websites it is somewhat wet in northern Spain. Hmmmm.
We are up at an unholy hour on a Sunday morning. Why? Ferry to catch? Nope. Today we ride to my father's place on the south coast and we're departing early in the hope of catching up with my uncle, who is also dropping in to see my Dad. I've not seen my uncle for a number of years and this is an excellent opportunity to catch up with him and his wife.
He's pretty cool my uncle. Undercover policeman for a while, one time motorcyclist and police motorcyclist, surf dude and skier. Even in his early 60s he's still prone to a little travelling, maybe a spot of some unusual sport. He keeps himself active, that's my point. I hope I'm blessed with his desire to keep at it.
Seeing Sharon awake at this time is rarer than finding a diamond in a large lump of gold lying on the ground in Preston town centre on a Wednesday morning. Seeing her awake and willing is even rarer. Seeing her organised too is akin to finding said lump of gold while holding a winning lottery ticket and solving the Riemann hypothesis having never been to school. The probabilities involved are akin to finding someone else with my name on a planet at the other end of the universe.
As you can imagine it comes as a surprise to find myself on the road at 0615. With Sharon.
The motorway is blissfully quiet, not empty you understand yet we are free to flow as we see fit. We roll without break for 125 miles to Warwick Services on the M40. This 500 must be comfortable as I, big chief sore-ass stiff joints can usually only manage 50 or 60 miles at a time. Sharon, little chief can just sit there for miles and miles, is all excited about how quiet the motorway is.
Do we look like genuine real proper adventurists? Do we...do we??
105 miles later we're at Ryka's Cafe, Box Hill. The country has awoken and the traffic is all around yet save for a patch of the M25 we have been moved unhindered. Amazing. If this good fortune carries on I might even buy a lottery ticket. Instead I buy a brew and call my Dad to warn him of our impending arrival.
When we've been on the motorway for a long time I don't know about you but Sharon and I find we "forget" how to ride. For me it's not too bad, I still haven't learned how to ride but Sharon notes when arriving at the first set of junctions off the motorway the notion of changing gear and braking appears to have become temporarily alien. There's a few flustered moments while the brain re-installs the "general riding" program and removes the "sit still and watch out" program.
My Dad and his wife are in fine fettle, my uncle and his wife are too. Food is eaten, stories are exchanged and my uncle suggests if we're in The Picos we should go to Fuenta De. Something about a cable car? Yes, I've heard this mentioned before so I put a star on Google maps to remind me.
Our ferry departs at 0845 on Tuesday morning. This means we have a Monday to spare. Fortunately. Upon inspection of my saddle bags I notice a small hole forming in the base of the left pannier. Dammit. It appears the bit on the rear footrest that stops the pillion's foot from slipping into the rear wheel is rubbing on the bottom of the bag. That will not do.
It's not a good shot but you get the idea.
I wrestle with the bags. I shorten the straps, loosen the straps, change the angles and even try reversing them, all to no satisfactory avail. I need a better solution. I casually saunter over to Dad's garage and start poking around. Like father, like son he too has a collection of random screws, nuts, bolts, wires and off-cuts of wood. I feel a cunning plan being forged in my little brain.
I find a suitable piece of wood and a saw. I cut it roughly in half. I rummage around and find 2 nuts and bolts. I need some big washers - aha! "Dad - can I borrow the drill?" The reply is affirmative but I can sense the trepidation in his voice. Before long I have engineered a perfectly functional solution. Sharon rolls her eyes at me in despair.
Well, it wouldn't be my bike with a few bits of wood on it.
The bit where the nut, bolt and washer are, that's the bit that was rubbing the bags.
I feel much happier now. Sharon's a little happier too as she's stolen my spare bungee and applied it to her Kriega bags in the search for stability. I wonder if I'll ever get that bungee back?
I'm glad we came to my Dad's place a little earlier. We've reworked the luggage, purchased some supplies for the ferry crossing, spent time with my uncle and also spent some time with my father.
Tomorrow we *MUST* be at the ferry terminal in Portsmouth some 36 miles away. I wish to be there at 0700 in the interest of not rushing. With traffic and junctions we have around 45 minutes ride so I plan to leave my Dad's place at 0600. That means Sharon will need to be up at 0430. We enjoyed a miracle amongst miracles on Sunday morning, what are the chances of reproducing that miracle twice in one week?
And still the forecast in Spain does not look good.
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Building Up To España
In the prologue to their journey Ren can't help but feel that the forthcoming journey might be a costly disaster. Forever the optimist.
Getting Ready For Spain
Sharon is determined to be ready, organised and prepared for her forthcoming trip to Spain. However life is even more determined to ruin her plans.
Bodging Daaan Saaaf
Ren bears witness to an impossible event. Then there's some last minute bodging to be done.
Motorway Miles And Muses
Sharon's derriere proves more than tough enough for the big ride across England. Can she manage to lose them emotional luggage while securing her physical luggage though?
To The Ferry
What are the chances of Sharon getting out of bed very early twice in the same week. Well she'd better had otherwise the Muppet's will miss the ferry.
Sharon's more excited than nervous but this is the first time the Kwakker has been aboard ship. That's if customs let her on board.
Lost Off The Ferry
The great adventurer and motorcyclist Ren is proving that he is in fact a useless idiot. He can't ride and he can't find a campsite that is open. Oh what will become of the BAT muppets?
Sharon is having way too much fun while Ren is trying to find a place to sleep. Well someone has to be happy when Ren's such a grump.
Discovering The Picos
After a troublesome first day in Spain hopefully Sharon and Ren's luck will improve. Thing is they have a 187km detour to reach their destination. There have been worse detours though.
Putting fear and doubt to bed for a while Sharon enjoys the wondrous ecstasy of nature and the joy of riding a motorcycle through it. Oh and a lot of sharp corners too.
Rain In The Picos
Will the rain bring doom and gloom to the already grumpy Ren? Luckily there's enough scenery and interesting things to keep him going.
The Sound Of Silence
In spite of a dire weather forecast Sharon's day in Spain is filled with the beauty of nature, fond memories and the creation of great new memories.
Riding to Burgos
Is motorcycle touring a non stop stream of excitement, beauty, wonder and exploration? Erm, nope. It's a rather ordinary day on the road to Burgos.
It's both a good and bad day for Sharon as she travels from the delights of the mountains to the grim reality of the city and the rain. At least her hair is looking good.
Higher Than I've Ever Been
In spite of the weather forecasts. In spite of no longer being in The Picos. In spite of Ren being a pessimist. In spite of all this it seems Northern Spain has more delights in store.
Sharon's having another amazing day riding around Northern Spain. She's on a high, metaphorically and literally.
Boots And Burgos
Ren is suffering a footwear malfunction and it's time to go and do that city thing. Can Burgos convert Sharon and Ren into city lovers?
Sharon explores the city of Burgos, Spain. Architecture, stone masonry, pilgrims and tempting food. But can a city really endear itself to this country girl?
Lost In Luxury
How to turn a fortuitous and splendid day into a nightmare. Just follow Ren and he'll sort the rest out. Still, it could be worse.
Fearing the weather Sharon is braced for a drenching. Thing is the weather isn't really the problem.
Gritty Northern El Bierzo
There's time to explore a different part of Northern Spain today. It might not have the beauty of The Picos De Europa it is however a fascinating area.
Blink Of An Eye
Sharon has an interesting day poking around north west Spain. There's a something of a shock in store for the evening.
Back To Beauty, Dodgy Caravan
It's time for the dynamic muppets to saunter their way back towards the ferry and Ren is in reflective mood. Wonderful scenery, weird accommodation.
The Good, The Bad And The Musty
It's a day of confusing emotions for Sharon, but life is for living. Will this evening's accommodation be as luxurious as the previous evening's?
While going to a now familiar town is hardly intrepid at least it means Ren is calm, chilled out and not lost. For once.
Head In The Clouds
Sharon is calmed by the wonders of Northern Spain's wondrous scenery as she returns to the comforts of Potes.
Sun, Sand, Sea And Santander
The weather has improved now it's time for the dynamic muppets to head back to the ferry. Ren is intrigued by stories or walking across Northern Spain, will we see "Walks And Travels" or W.A.T.?
Splish Splash Santander
The beauty and grandeur of the The Picos means Sharon does not want to leave, ever. It's back to the city, ready to sail home. Fear not, there's still pleasures to be found.
The Ferry Home
It's the dynamic muppet's last day in Spain so it's time to catch the ferry. A mixture of sadness and relief for Ren, but what about the other riders in the queue?
Final Thoughts On Spain
Ren crosses the T's and dots the I's on the Spanish trip.
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Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018