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Published: July 18th 2018
The next day we took a leisurely morning packing up, then headed to Velha again for a few supplies and a look around town. By the time we were done it was super hot again, so found a campsite early, preferably with a pool and a bar. The original plan from here, the next day, was to attempt a really long track which would take us almost to the end of the Pyrenees, but then Mark noticed an abandoned village he had wanted to see was just south of us. So we booked one more night and left my truck all set up, and jumped into Marks and went to find the village. It was an impressive place to see and gave me a chance to play with the drone. Though on the first flight, it decided to loose connection just the other side of the church, this of course threw me into panic mode expecting the damn thing to sod off in to a cliff face, but luckily it did what it was suppose to, and automatically returned to where it had started, much to my relief. Unfortunately this had all gone well and quick, which meant we were back
at the campsite way too early, and so we were starting to get cabin fever. Its nice to relax sometimes, but two days in a row was a bit much for us. Next morning was an early start, till I realised my engine was pissing out oil! Turns out a plug in the side of the vacuum pump had fallen out, so rather than have oil flowing around it, it was just pumping it straight out. But with a couple of cable ties and a cork from the campsite bar, and it was sorted( sort of). It worked enough for general driving, but anything arduous, like a long mountain climb, and it would still leak oil, so I bought a 5 litre bottle and just topped it up each morning, till I was home.
With this, we set off to do the really long track, which started well, with a very nice track out of town. But as we were going along, we could see the road we had driven to get to the abandoned village, and eventually we joined it. In hind sight, we cold have done this route and the village all in the same day, because
it turned out to be mostly tarmac after this, with the only other bit of off road, closed off. So we stopped at a small place called Gavin, which we had to enter Gavins tunnel to get to. This worked well as it turned out that there was a track just down the road from the campsite, so the next morning we went to see it. Again like the others, this track was really nice with amazing views, just a shame it ended so soon. The next track we tried to find, turned out to now be a hiking only track now, so we took this as a sign to stop while the going was good, and make a start for home.
Along the way we stopped at Oudour St Glane, which is a memorial village that has been left untouched since the Nazi’s killed everyone in it. When Mark first suggested it, it sounded interesting, but it wasn’t till I arrived, I realised I had been before, be it 8 years ago, just never remembered the name, though I did remember the sewing machines and cars everywhere. On the final day, we managed to drive all the way
to Calais in one hit, so stopped at Cite de Europe for some lunch. This is where I had to add two litres of oil back into my engine as the cork was starting to fail and, what I thought was the sump gasket (turned out to be the front seal), had dropped an incredible amount in the carpark. Funny thing is I only noticed the problem when I went to open the back door, and noticed the once mud covered back now had a shine, and my fingers were oily from opening it, so the oil had been spraying all over the place as we drove down the motorway. Next stop was the F1 motel in calais, where we were to meet back up with the others. But we were way too early and after sitting in the car park for half an hour, Mark decided to get on the next ferry, regardless of the cost. Me on the other hand, I couldn’t justify what I thought would be £100 to go early so I stayed. But half an hour later, Mark called me to say it was only £44, which I was happier to spend, so went and
caught the same ferry. Thus ending a fantastic trip, with a strange start, but more than made up by the views and tracks we drove, and a thank you to Mark and his Wikiloc app, and his patience to put up with it, when it tried to confuse us or send us down the wrong tracks.
On the Sunday, I made a start on getting the truck sorted, but I needed to order Oil and a sump gasket so I couldn’t do anything till Monday. Then when I started to fix the truck Monday, I realised the brake pads were shot, and that the callipers were seized so more parts had to be ordered, which didn’t arrive till Thursday, the last day before I leave for the Tour. Eventually I got all the parts fitted, and after a botched brake bleed, I had a working truck again, sort of. Remember when I mentioned it wasn’t the sump gasket, but was actually the front seal, well this was only confirmed after I had taken it for a drive and found the underside covered in oil again. I’ll be honest I always knew it was the front seal, just didn’t want
to admit it, as to fix the front seal, I would have to dismantle the front of the engine. Something I didn’t want to do or have the time to do before leaving again, so I did the sump seal in the hope that it would be that instead, which, of course, It wasn’t. So Ive now attached a pipe to the breather hole where the oil was escaping, and put a bottle at the end to collect it up. This won’t stop it leaking, but it will stop it covering everywhere including the road where I park, in oil, as I don’t want to be know as the Brit who caused the peleton to crash with an oil slick.
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