I’ve had worse views from a hotel window.
So a great start as I honestly expected to be charged for the room on leaving but it was not to be. The bike started first kick, which is unheard of for an XR400. I made the decision not to go the direct motorway route as the bike cruises at 55mph and pushes on to 65mph, but I don’t want to be pushing on. I have an app on the phone called Scenic and it literally takes you the scenic route, so that was todays plan. I entered Cuidad Airport as my destination and saw that it was going to be 10hrs by ‘scenic’. I suspected it would be a long day especially as the app is a massive drain on phone battery. I had a charger on the bike and a solar back up. I set off and within 3 minutes the route was blocked by a market in the town. 30 minutes later I was still trying to escape the tight streets of Reinosa. However, once done I was treated to mile after mile of twisting roads through magnificent scenic hills and onto the flatter plains. Very quickly I was warned that the battery was low and I connected the solar charger to try and boost it somewhat.
(I was only going from the dot top right to where the line drops off the bottom, what hope in the desert?)
Before I left the hotel I had a coffee, my Spanish is not so good and a cappuccino was translated into a sticky tar like coffee with cinnamon on top. It wasn’t quite what I wanted. Some hours later I needed another, but being off the beaten track there are no fast food outlets or locals who can speak English. It’s my own fault for doing nothing to improve my linguistic skills. So a small village cafe was the place for lunch and I started with a cappuccino. What turned up was a barely warm hot chocolate. I didn’t bother with food.
Now I will tell you this, they love a castle the Spanish. I suspect that will be something to do with the many invasions, civil wars and other disputes throughout the ages. In fact there are over 2500 still standing, thats some turbulent past they’ve had. The upside is that I was treated to some great views along the way. The day was warming and I could see this tiny castle, on a prominent hill, from miles away. As I got closer I decided to stop there for a bite and a look round.
It’s the one at the bottom left. The Enriquez family built the castle in 1420 on the grounds of another castle destroyed in a heated dispute. They then rebuilt it again in 1538 after a revolt, gotta be doubting your choice of location or defences at that point surely. That’s the history lesson over. I sat in the empty square of the empty town and ate my flatbread and warm cheese. I drank from the fountain and set off again. The hours that followed were a great, just me on biking heaven roads without the sight of anyone else for miles. At about 6 pm I was beginning to ache and as I entered the town of Avila, north west of Madrid I was ready to find a campsite. Only one showed up on the map and it was 30 minutes away. Okay its 30 minutes but the road looked good. I rode through Avila and saw their very impressive and huge castle. Then I spent those 30 minutes riding through gorgeous mountain roads to the campsite. It was down a dusty track. Then I caught site of it. It was fenced off with barbed wire and had a collection of old motorbikes and dogs, or dags as the travellers back home call them. It was little more than a gypsy camp and it was locked down. No one came to see what I wanted and I wasnt so sure I wanted to raise anyone. Aching and somewhat unhappy I set off back to Avila. I rode the same winding roads, cornering swiftly, the bike pulled well up the hills. I suspect my mind was more occupied with finding somewhere to stay and getting off the saddle because after about 5km I was heading towards a slight right hander when a car came round it straight towards me. Suddenly it dawned on me I had ridden the whole way on the wrong side of the road. A quick lane change and I still had time to see the whites of the eyes of the woman who was a little upset to find me blocking her way. I made it back to Avila in one piece. Booking.com located a cheap motel and in minutes I was in a room with the bike garages for the night. I freshener up and walked into the town. Lids supplied the food and drink for tea as well as some supplies for tomorrow. Then I set off to find that impressive castle. I kid you not, I walked for an hour and couldn’t find the monstrous castle. I was feeling pretty tired so headed back to the motel.
I’ve covered 320 miles today, refuelled once and had one near death experience. Tomorrow I am headed for Cuidad Real Airport and then on to Cordoba.