You know it’s amazing when you throw random people together from different countries and different backgrounds how they all get on together…after a few beers last night it was decided that the clutch cable would wait to the morning, not a good idea as the morning came and things were a little fuzzy around the edges..so after re assessing the cable situation the general feeling was to take all the equipment with us and if it broke, we’d sort it out then..bit of a kop out but hey, I’m on holiday I’ll just go with the flow…:)
Great day riding today in nice warm sunshine..coffee at a race track, amazing mountain roads and a sunset over the sea, along with people that are becoming good friends…I’ll let the pictures tell the story…
Ok, I seem to have got a bit behind with the blog, lots of riding and lots of evenings socialising along with plenty of red wine seem to do that so a quick couple of catch up posts..so leaving the hotel at Nerja we headed into the mountains once again, a bit of low cloud made the roads a little interesting, definitely more slippy than uk roads in the wet but it wasn’t long before the sun came out. Halfway through the day I did notice that my clutch cable was badly worn, fortunately I took a spare with me, so clutch less changes for the rest of the day to make sure it lasted the day and then change it when we got to the next hotel in Las NegrasFew photos of the day…
The hotel for last night and tonight is the Parador Nerja, a great hotel chosen by the team, right alongside the coast with all your needs taken care of..
Once breakfast was done it was back out to the bikes,
Today about 250 kilometres to cover, that might not sound much but with barely a straight road it does take time..
And with stunning views like this along the way you do need a few stops to soak it all in..
Don’t think however it’s a pedestrian ride, we move on, some would call it progressive..
I have purposely kept details of the route a bit vague, as you may or may not know I do have a tracker fitted to the bike and can upload route maps but I think that would be wrong of me to do that as Hispania Tours have put a lot of time and effort into fine tuning the roads we travel on..
Or sometimes the beaches we ride on…I won’t mention too much about the crazy American that decided to go for a swim..poor old Dominic, he had to just walk away !
At the end of the days riding and back in the hotel it was time to toast the days riding with a beer, a quick shower before going back to the bar for some wine and dinner, another great day…changing hotels tomorrow….
The tour starts here…up early for breakfast and head over to Hispania tours HQ for the rest of the guys to pick up their bikes, I lost my screen and top box rack in their lock up, really nice to have the bike stripped down to its fighting weight again…
The tour group was split into two smaller groups with Dominic leading our group with me and three other riders..I think there may have been some doubt about the Thunderbird keeping up in the twisties as I was given the sweeper position at the rear..more than happy with that though as very often I lead a ride so it makes a change, oh, and no problems keeping up either 🙂
After a couple of hours of ‘warm up’ twisties it was time for a coffee stop where we met up briefly with the rest of the group…we’ll call them the B team…:)
Moving on we headed for Ronda (help me !) for lunch, some great roads…
The sort of roads you don’t just stumble upon, you have to know your stuff, fantastic scenery too, when you can take your eyes of the road long enough to look at it..I think this part of the trip is going to end up very picture heavy..
After a great lunch we were soon back on the bikes in search of more twisties…of course they knew exactly where to find them..stunning views once again..
As I said this bit is going to be picture heavy, I can tell you we went around some bends but really you have to see it to believe it…it was a tad windy though…a quick fuel stop and then on to our hotel for the evening and a beer or two.
Or Boxing Day if your in the uk..don’t think this is a world wide thing…do many people have Boxing Day ? Does sound kinda weird..wonder where that name comes from, maybe a little Google is in order later..anyway, I digress, checkout day in Molina Lario in Malaga, nice late midday checkout though, plenty of time to enjoy breakfast and re pack my panniers and topbox, I’ve kept things so that the only thing I take off when I’m going into hotels is the topbox, this just means that once or twice on the trip you have to re pack so you have enough clean clothes..I have gone the throw away route this trip though, wearing the old stuff I have and then throwing it away, same with the t shirts, I bought the cheapest ones I could find, from Tesco’s, £2 a T shirt and then throwing it away after use…seems wasteful but I’ve overpacked as usual, very difficult to know what to pack to be honest because down here in Malaga it’s 20 degrees and it could quite easily be sub zero with snow on the ground on the way home…but I still packed too much !
Leaving the hotel I put the new place in the Sat Nav…only 15 minutes away, I know your thinking why didn’t you stay there from the start ? Well the tour company didn’t say where it was until the last minute, I guess depends how many are coming and who can do the best deal..anyway the Paradores Malaga Golf hotel is the place for tonight,
meeting up with the rest of the party that’s going on the tour with Hispania Tours, drinks, meal and a general chat about the tour, if you a link clicker it’s this tour I’m going on (notice how I’m getting the hang of putting links in !)
Really good crowd, mostly German but English is spoken by most so that’s good, also have one American in the group…they all seem to be looking forward to the tour that starts at 8.30 prompt tomorrow !
Christmas over here doesn’t seem to be such a big affair as it is in the uk..more like a bank holiday..the petrol stations are open, bars & restaurants and some shops too, yes, not as busy as normal but nothing like the food fest we seem to have back home..anyway, breakfast done and it was off to meet Chris from Andalucia.com we’ve been communicating via Twitter for a while and he suggested meeting up Christmas morning while his good lady was in church..meeting at Ke bar in Sotogrande Marina, very nice..enjoyable hour or so spent chatting and eating tapas…thanks Chris..
Back on the bike I carried on to Gibraltar…I had been warned of the hassles getting on and off the rock..it wasn’t too bad, a quick show of my passport and it was all done..funny place Gibraltar, you drive on the wrong side of the road but everything’s British..traffic lights, post boxes…odd having to drive across a runway to get into the place too..wacky road system too, definitely not built for cars !
It was a bit overcast just on Gibraltar but soon as I got off and headed back up the coast that soon cleared and the sun was out once more..took a few more pics on the way back…
When I got back to the hotel I was even allowed to operate the bike lift by myself too..
The route I took today…
And on a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone for their Christmas and personal messages today, it means a lot. Hope you all had a great Christmas…Andalucian tour next 🙂
Not sure where I got too in yesterday’s write up…had some great food…black pudding, a specialty of the region apparently…followed by roast suckling lamb..very good indeed and of course a glass of Rioja…oh, been getting some stick via Twitter and FB about the state of my bike so had a little clean up operation, sacrificing a t shirt and a bottle of sparkling water..I figured sparking over still as this would help shift those stubborn stains 🙂
Anyway, think that’s all I forgot..back to today..800 kilometres to cover so up early, before the sun again..convinced I was in for another round of toll roads..after all if you have to get the distance in sometimes you have no choice but when selecting the avoid tolls route I was really surprised to find that it was nearly the same time and distance..result..so off I set..in the dark..but what a good move, the sunrise was awesome, couldn’t help but stop and take a couple of photos..
The temperature wasn’t too bad when I set off, but the closer I got to Madrid the colder it got, next thing I noticed was frost on the grass..a definite temperature drop..getting into Madrid at 10.30 it was 4 degrees according to the sign outside the chemist..quick refuel in the centre of Madrid, fuel is so cheap here..€1.10 seems to be about average, about £0.80 per litre ish !
Back on the road and heading out of Madrid the temperature started to rise..although I was still on main roads they were quite enjoyable, just enough to keep you entertained but obviously with the distance I had to do you don’t want anything to taxing..quick stop for a brew and knocked up some pasta, as I had the stove I just as well use it..
The last 200 kilometres into Malaga were really nice roads weaving through the hills, excellent way to finish a good days ride, topped up with fuel before checking into the hotel..had to put the bike in a lift to take it down to the lower level car park..couldn’t help but give it a blip when I started up 🙂
Really nice hotel..forgot I booke such a good one..restaurant was busy so I opted to eat outside, bit of a novelty on Christmas Eve..must remember to book a table for tomorrow night..
Up nice and early again, plenty of rain over night but with clear skies things looked promising for the 480 mile run into Spain….you know, no matter how many times I’ve been to France I just can’t really love the place..the roads aren’t that inspiring, yes, around the Alps and no doubt the Pyrenees but other than that they seem to me to be just flat, well maintained but just, dare I say it, boring…the landscape it the same..just flat…I’m sure there will be plenty of people that will say different but that’s just how I see it..
Anyway back on the road after checking out, sun just coming up in clear skies as I head down the motorways, lots of motorways today, even on the Garmin fastest route setting it was still nearly seven and a half hours of riding time..just as the sun was above the horizon a little bit of mist started to roll in, then it became fog, then rain, this wasn’t forecast ! At least it was washing the bike off a bit…the rain didn’t last long, once through Cognac and then Bordeaux the rain had stopped and time for the first fuel up of the day. With a full tank it’s back on the motorway holding at a steady 130 kph…munching up the miles with only the odd toll to pay to take the boredom away, although I could have done without putting the ticket in the wrong slot..having to press the ‘help’ button, and using all the French words I know to summon assistance..each toll after that I made sure I had the correct hole before inserting…
Finally some hill in the distance, no more than hills, the Pyrenees ! The road started to get more interesting, similar to the road that takes you to Mont Blanc in the Alps, kinda makes sense I suppose but really nice to have something to get the bike leaning into, long sweeping high speed bends that don’t tighten up on you or do anything silly..great stuff..the suddenly Spain, first time on main land Spain dice I was a nipper 8 or 9 I would guess…motorway speeds changed from 130 to 120..tolls are a little different but seemed to be manned…always a bonus for someone like me..a few tunnels amongs the bends, reminded me a little of the A7 in Italy..more fuel, fluids in and out…
Then a last dash to the hotel for the night, great little place, but dated from the outside but great inside, good staff and nice food, think I’m going to like Spain..
Route map split into 2 bits as I could fit it all on one map..
Similar distance to cover tomorrow..through Madrid and onto Malaga..hopefully no more rain !
Ok, not strictly just day one as it includes the ferry crossing last night which turned out to be a little different as I was supposed to be leaving from Poole this morning. A technical issue meant it was cancelled so the only way I could keep to the schedule I had was to leave from Portsmouth last night, to be fair Brittany Ferries done all they could to help me, even a posh cabin all to myself..
Once loaded, I was the only motorcycle, I thought a quick pint was needed, just to toast the holiday of course, before I got my head down in my nice posh cabin as it was a 5.45 wake up call in the morning !
It was indeed an early start, still dark when we unloaded at 6.45, in fact it didn’t get really light until 8.30 on the plus side the roads were quiet, although they don’t seem to get busy. Only had 180 miles to do today due to sailing early so set the sat nav to ‘curvy roads’ that gave me 5 hours of riding..not the best weather first thing, don’t think it ever rained, it just always seemed to be very wet, like I was chasing the rain..it did brighten up the closer I got to Nantes, even the sun came out..did have a close call with 3 horses that were loose on the road, just shows that you have to be on your game at all times..
Gonna have to factor in some bike washing at some point..
Checked in at the Campanile in Nantes…
good budget hotel with a restaurant on site, so I’ll be using that later before an early night…490 miles to do tomorrow to get to Spain !
Christmas road trip planned…Its going to b a little fresh I know but hopefully once I get to southern Spain things should warm up a little. Was planning to take the Portsmouth to Santander ferry but this takes so long I think it’ll be quicker to ride down via the Poole-Cherbouge ferry, more fun too.
I’ll spend a couple of days in Malaga hopefully with a visit to Gibraltar on Christmas day a before I join a guided bike tour with Hispania Tours around Andulusia for 8 days and then returning home via Barcelona.
The outward route looks to be just over 1300 miles
The return route is just over 1550 miles
The organised tour is about 850 miles, so with a trip to Gibraltar and getting lost once or twice it’ll be a trip length of just under 4,000 miles.
Obviously this is a trip on the Thunderbird, the bikes pretty much ready to go, I’ll put the screen on so that should keep the worst of the weather off, I may need a new rear tyre (no surprise there) it would probably have been ok but as I’m sure there will be rain at some point it makes sense to have some decent tread depth.
The riding kit needs to be adjusted a little, a set of textiles for sure with some decent waterproof liners and waterproof gloves, if such a thing exists.