A bit windy!
I’ve let Ed write in a couple of bits and pieces. EEK!
Leaving home it was a tad blowy. As we rode down Loch Lomond side, the waves were white horses. That should really have given us a clue what to expect. South of Glasgow, I have to say, it’s the best fun I’ve had on a motorway in years, in a sick and twisted sort of way! The wind was howling, thanks to Ophelia starting to hit Scotland. The motorway journey was most entertaining. I was using pretty odd observation links, watching ahead for bridges, and most importantly, the glens on either side of the road. I was giggling in my helmet, just waiting for the blast of wind. The one important thing was not actually knowing what direction it was going to hit from. There was no point in bracing myself; quite the opposite. It was all about relaxing, and keeping my hands light on the bars. Seems strange, however, it’s important to just chill and not fight against the wind. It was great fun. Other top tip, get your toes on the pegs and your top half hinges a bit, allowing arms to bend and upper body to relax. Then I saw a warning sign for cross winds. Uh oh. Oh, bloody hell, I was laughing like a demented person, I was having a blast. That section of motorway passed in a flash.
We stopped for fuel at Southwaite and I think Ed was surprised at the big grin on my face. A sandwich for me before setting off. Ed scoffed a couple of crispy creme doughnuts (original and strawberry cream if you must know :-)) (Ed). Because he could. He had one of the doughnuts with the strawberry and cream oozing out of it. I advised him to eat it quickly before I nabbed it out of his hand. I was fuelled; Smoggy next. Fuel was £1.31 a litre. (Robbing bar-stewards) (Ed) Back on the motorway until we saw signs saying that it was closed between junction 17 & 18. Bugger. We got off it at just the right time, the motorway was log-jammed; more fuel and onwards over the Cat & Fiddle. I can totally understand why it’s a 50 limit. Before we even got started there was a biker off at one of the corners. It looked like he had over cooked it, landing in a farm driveway. Average speed cameras all the way through. It was really good fun. Even at 50.
The detour had added about an hour and a half to our schedule, which was a shame, I was looking forward to more time with Sue, Neal, Dean & Fiona. Quick shower and out to Purple Mango for a curry. It was the second time today it had been windy. Parp!
After breakfast the next day, we headed off to JD & Addy’s. It should have only taken us about 45 minutes. Ed, doing his bit, made sure we rode for about 4 hours by the back roads. Great fun. JD & Addy’s kids are all keen swimmers so between shuttle runs to the pool we had a lovely Chinese take away. Lancers rosé wine and vinho verde and a blether, it was great. Thank you guys for giving up your bed for us!i promised I wouldn’t post his picture on Facebook. I didn’t say I wouldn’t use it in my blog!
Again, another day taking the long cut. Back roads all the way to the ferry, with a cuppa stop at Alison & Phillip, Ed’s cousin. A short hop to the ferry on the only big road of the day.
Went up to the kiosk to check in and two bikers pull up behind us. One of the guys said, “Tyndrum to Tuzla? (Looking at the sticker on Smoggy) Are you fae Tyndrum?” He had an odd mix of an Aberdonian and Fife accent. “I recognise you (well, your helmet) from Scottish Biker Magazine!” So spooky! A small world indeed!
Dinner. Bed. Sleep. Oh, forgot, wine.
Thanks to Ophelia, the ferry had been delayed. Only by two hours though. I did pity the poor souls waiting at the other end, they would have got on board after 10pm. A good sailing, which was helped by having a commodore cabin. It’s the way to go. Plenty space, telly, fridge and a balcony. That gave us the chance to have our last cigarettes before our holiday began. Yep. Going to give stopping a go.
When we docked in Santander, it was dark. Ed said to stick close through the town, which in fairness isn’t that big. I pretty much rode in what some would understand to be observing position, making damn sure I was on Ed’s tail. It’s amazing how my brain switches to ‘drive on the right’ mode. It just sort of happens. Then we hit the motorway. I don’t ‘do’ video games, however, that’s what it was like, lovely smooth roads, darkness and whoosh, half an hour on the road we were at the hotel, chosen at random on booking dot com. We were just in time for dinner. Just. Wine ( see a pattern here?) and some tasty food before passing out. A great night’s sleep.
The next morning we woke to lovely sunshine. Smashing. The Picos de Europas winking at us in the distance. Come play, come play!
First thing, Ed’s bike was playing funny buggers. There seemed to be no power. Ed followed the principle of switch it off and switch it back on again, that seemed to work. How odd. Knowing what I now know about our day, I should have been slightly worried! Now, when we arrived at the hotel, I had 20 miles left in my tank. For some reason, Fanny (Ed’s sat nav, named many years ago, first name, Fucking) decided to just have a laugh. The first 10 minutes we spent practising slow circles. I think I did about 4 u-turns before we got on our route. Hell, everyone needs practice. Especially honing my techniques, fully laden. Cheers for the recent slo-mo practice Kevin!
So, remember, I needed fuel. Ed said it was ok. The petrol station was only 9km away. So, just because I had 20 miles in the tank, Ed took the interesting route.
By interesting, I mean more interesting than the usual ‘long cut’. When we headed away from the main road and gallusly (sp?) head up a steep, concrete, less than single track road. I said out loud, “You have to be having a fucking laugh!” It reminded me of our last trip to Spain when I thought I did really well going up a road, off the beaten track, to the top of a pass, via a concrete road that had scores in it so you could get traction. This was on a different level of bonkers.
The road went from concrete to chaos in a nano second. It was very pretty but had gone from road to track. Then from track to rats shit. Then from rats shit to pretty much a footpath, if you could ACTUALLY call it that. Rutted and caked in sticky, clay mud. Slippy boulders, muddy puddles and thorny bushes. We got to a section that had a small chance of being able to turn the bikes round, however, turning round would have meant riding back over the very steep clay covered boulders. Both Smoggy and I were having none of it. I believe I said to Ed, “it’s ok for you, you’ve just been on an off-road course.” Plus, his bike had trail tyres. Smoggy had road tyres. Don’t forget, fully laden with panniers.
It was ok so far…… then….. In front was a large puddle. I saw Ed slithering through it. Erm, no. I’m not doing that, I got off Smoggy and Ed rode him through. Rode for a bit, nervously, then realised that I was too close to Ed. Slither, oops. Skitter, slide. Shite. TIMMMMBEEEER! over we fell, landing softly on the grass, missing a thorny bush by inches. FFS. I didn’t look particularly graceful clambering, eventually, to my feet.
Ed owes Smoggy a new set of hand guards. Looking sexy held together with black duct tape. Ed’s bloody lucky it wasn’t him being held together with black bloody duct tape. Twat.
So, I managed the next 50 yards of so. By this time it was deep ruts of clay and more threateningly thorny bushes. Back up the hill I said to Ed that it was a really bad time to quit smoking. Taking the hint, he provided me with the tobacco. Ed had better not moan that he missed his exercise this morning. He got plenty, he pretty much moved his bike, walked back up the hill, moved Smoggy. I walked down, sweat running down the crack of my bum like a mill lade, and tried to find a sheltered spot to wait whilst Ed did the hard work. It was only about 17° but felt like 30°. He did admit to being a bit nervous about certain parts. No shit, Sherlock! We were committed. It was all steep down hill at this point. I rode a bit. Didn’t fall off again, however, I was concerned that we might still get stuck.
I didn’t get stuck. Ed got stuck. In a muddy squelchy puddly bog. A bit of rocking the bike didn’t really work. He was just about getting traction and just about got the front wheel out, I walked forward and grabbed the crash bar and helped drag his GS out the shit. Luckily, Ed took Smoggy on the other side of the muddy bog and the wee soldier squelched through. Mud is officially everywhere; bikes, boxes, visor….
I managed not to have a melt down, lose my rag or a complete sense of humour failure. I pulled on my big girl’s pants and admitted when I wasn’t prepared to literally take the plunge.
After the muddy puddle, which, in fairness isn’t a good description. It was more like a bog, we saw a worker’s vehicle. Then the track became manageable. Today’s observation link was seeing a lovely trimmed hedge. At that point, Smoggy and I heaved a sigh of relief. Ed’s comment was, “well, that’ll give you something to blog about!” Indeed. I’ve never been so relieved to see something man-made! We were sort of back on solid ground. By this time, it was about noon. We had left at about 9:30 am. We had a much needed caffeine break, and then found fuel. Smoggy had 1 mile left in his tank. The attendant at the petrol station was looking over our bikes, probably wondering WTF. There was much pointing and laughing at all the still wet clay mud attached to the bikes.
After all that excitement, we hit the planned route, albeit 3 hours late! We had a ball on some amazing roads which in fairness I rode last year the other way round. Tonight we are staying in a hotel that we stayed in last year on the west side of the Picos, right in the middle of a canyon. Wine and dinner, which by all accounts had been roughly translated by the waitress. It didn’t matter, by that point I could have eaten the table cloth. It’s 9:15pm. Time for bed. Even Ed’s yawning.
Day two. I wonder what Ed had planned today? I had a good sleep and woke at the back of 9. Must have needed it. I had sore bits today. Wonder how that happened?
So, the rough plan ended up being thrown in the bin. It was a chilly start, about 12°. The run through the canyon is superb. I can remember last year going through the canyons tired, hungry and probably dehydrated. It was also damp, so it was a joy this morning. Very little traffic. What a great way to start your day.
Our first coffee stop was interesting. Sorry Smoggy, I totally misjudged the kerb I had to negotiate and thought I was all set to head off….. TIIIIIMBEEEER! Oh FFS. Smoggy on his side, saved by his panniers. When will I learn? It’s the one thing I tend to struggle with, Parking and cambers. A work in progress it seems. Not a scratch on him, we headed off, following some lovely roads. I put on the GoPro for chuckles, as we headed off up a mountain pass. Or, maybe that should be a mountain-don’t-pass. We got to the summit and I headed off in front of Ed, only to stop. We were nearly at the summit, however, all there was to see was a bull in a very small paddock, a house with a tractor parked outside and a generator running. The road stopped. Well, it didn’t stop. There was a farm track which seemed to go back down hill, however, we were at this point about 1,683m at Poerto de La Cubilla at 3:21pm, with 27 miles of range left in Smoggy’s tank. Not good. Apparently, the nearest fuel was 14 miles away. Aye, as the bloody crow flies. Not very bloody handy.
Ed gave me some top tips on the way down, which in fairness I had a hard time getting my head around. Get in a high gear, and let the engine just trickle over. Right oh. I chose 5th gear, simply because I was doubting everything by that time. On the way up some serious bends the wind was so bad, I had to go over to the left hand side of the road. Just to make sure I didn’t get blown down the substantial drop on my right hand side. A lot of the time, I was thinking about my wonderful friend, Annie, who’s not very good with heights. Had she been pillion, she would have been yacking in her helmet. Now, I’ve ridden some mountain passes over the years, however, this was a belter, without many safety barriers to be seen. Maybe that’s because they don’t expect much traffic? Go figure.
All the way down the mountain I only used one floggle of fuel, however, we still had to find the fuel station. Luckily there was one nearby, fuel and an iced tea. That was really the only option. The other option was beer. How strange. Iced tea it was. And a ciggy. I was stressed. That’s my excuse. It was the first of the day though!
We got on to the faithful booking dot com and chose a hotel. Air conditioning was not working, so we had wafts of 23° breeze seeping in through the window. Felt refreshed after a shower and headed off in to town for a wander. Thanks to Google, found a good restaurant that served dinner before 9pm. Don’t know how the Spanish cope eating so late. Apparently, 10-12pm is common. By 10.30 us party animals were tucked up in bed! Recharging our batteries for the next part of our adventure!