Published: May 21st 2012May 21st 2012 Journey through Spain
Vince's hire bike on left, GTR in centre and mine on the right
You could tell it was disembarking time on the ferry – the rain was hammering down outside and you could see little more than a thick drizzle grey everywhere. As the motley collection of bikers headed down to deck 2, the perennial fat hard “characters” who were always on the ferry or the chunnel, usually on cruisers, these ones on Goldwings, cited they didn’t need waterproofs ‘cos the Goldwing shielded them from anything, and of course because they were “hard”. They were nice enough lads but any moron could see they would have been soaked within 10 miles.
Shame about the weather because the route once out of Bilbao’s environs was really quite stunning, carving its way through rock formations, weaving through tunnels and winding along pristine, albeit wet, blacktop.
Only a short 3 hour hop tonight to get some much needed miles in before sunset to offset the long slog through Spain the following day. Our scheduled stop over point was just south of Aranda de Duero, about 100 miles north of Madrid – wine country. Great place and the wine from their own vineyard was blackcurrant dark and delicious. I did my bit
for the great Brit abroad, when presented with a local dish which was half a lamb cut up served with some bread by asking if they were any vegetables. Actually I only managed to mention potatoes to which the (rather attractive) waitress disappeared and within 10 minutes promptly arrived with a plate of chips – much to Vince’s delight. Worse she obviously considered this type of request from an idiot Englishman totally normal.
It had rained all the way from Bilbao and my kit had leaked so I had a wet arse – although my new gloves were drier than Marrakech and nearly as warm. Sorted. It was also surprisingly somewhat cold, only about 8C.
Sunday morning it was even colder and the forecast was woeful. It was freezing, just 3C when we set off and even by Madrid it was only 8C. Briefly at the end of the day it would touch 14C but that would rapidly plummet back to single figures as we flirted with and rolled into storm after storm. The friendlier storms just gave you a damn good soaking, but we had one massive electrical storm with violent gusts of wind and a hailstorm
with pellets so big it halted all traffic on the motorway. For the electrical storm it was lunchtime(ish), 2pm, so we thought we’d stop for a bit. Immediately the storm cleared and the sun came out and it even felt almost warm – marvellous. We stayed too long, scoffing Iberico Ham, Gambas and Paella, so that as we emerged an hour and a half later it started pelting it down again.
The wind ripping across the plain the length of Spain from the west/south-west was relentless and exhausting. The trees at the side of the road swayed and bucked, but even they laughed at this head on a motorbike dancing and kicking around with a life on its own. The motorway was excellent, empty and superbly surfaced, but it was level with the plains and on the Beemer my helmeted head was getting such a kicking that even Vince could see it from 100 yards back. Periodically he would zoom up alongside with a mere flick of the throttle and in a show of empathy point to his windscreen, sometimes throwing in a show of electronically raising it, to demonstrate its cosseting qualities. B*stard – he barely felt a
thing, whereas I was getting battered and going slowly deaf. In fact (as I was to appreciate later) the noisiest thing in Vince’s helmet was the wind noise from the microphone in mine when we were intercommed up. After a few hundred miles we swapped bikes and he did a petrol stop (~150 miles) on mine. Enough to (a) make him feel very smug, (b) make me feel rather jealous and hateful of my Torture Tourer (as Eddie calls them), but most importantly (c) actually give me a rest. Being battered by the wind really tires you out.
Anyway we finally made it to Tepa (just north of Malaga) around 5 pm, so we were on schedule. I had an email awaiting me from the hotel in Aranda that I had left my ipod and headphones there – some 450+ miles back. Course I did. We parked up necked a couple of ice cold beers, emptied our kit and set about the business of eating. Getting food in Tepa was a challenge – having walked round the town three times we just settled on a bar selling some Tapas.
So tomorrow Morocco. We are taking the road from Rhonda to the coast, which is apparently a famous biking road, and ultimately onto the Ferry at Tarifa and out of Europe to Africa. I do recall reading something about that road in one of the juvenile bike journo pieces a while back, but my bike’s panniers are so heavy I can’t see me scraping the pegs fully laden and to be honest I am more interested in just getting to Morocco – but then again maybe its just because I am whacked.