I woke today at about 8 am. Steve and Ken had already left, there was another person asleep. I got myself ready, but was aware that the batteries would not be charged for the day. As I pondered this one of the Spanish girls came into the room from the bathroom. Well I guess from the bathroom as she had ‘the girls’ out. I suspect its nothing unusual and I certainly wasn’t going to complain. She stood chatting to me with the twins and I admired them, as you would. Anyway that came to an end when I suggested a selfie!
I quickly loaded the bike and as I was running on empty I headed for McDonald’s where I had several coffees and a cheeky grin on my face. From there it was a short few hours to my next hotel, the Hostel Rio Grande. It was recommended by a friend who stayed recently and said it was a kind of last place before getting the ferry to Africa and many travellers stay there. The bike purred along and I made sure I was constantly drinking water, feeling the day before was probably down to heat stroke. I was paying attention to the purr of the engine and the way it changes at the increasingly steep hills but still manages to pull better than most cars, when there was a bang! Momentarily the bike lost power and my heart sank. Almost instantly she kicked back in and carried on. In my mind I said, don’t worry its a Honda. After all they didn’t even put a tool kit on the XR400, so confident were they with its mechanical prowess.
It started getting cold at 2100ft up the mountains prior to Malaga. I wondered how many people had looked down on this area as they flew over on a package deal to Malaga. It was quite awesome and I have to say people have trouble understanding the vastness of the universe, I have trouble with the vastness of our planet. I can see for miles and miles, mountains and rivers and the roads that cut through them. This is a tiny corner of the world and its huge. Anyway I was happily contemplating this as I started to drop into Malaga and onto the coast road. It is package holiday heaven or hell depending who you are. I stopped to take a picture of me and DJ at the coast, next to a shop selling inflatable everything and offering pedallo rides. Back on the road I was pleased not to be one of the herded package holiday makers. The place was crammed with high rise buildings, casinos and tacky shops. Everything is Rio Grande, Playa del or similar. However having said all that I do quite like a lay on the beach and all that tat I talk about. Its just not this time. This time is about adventure and striving to test myself a bit more. I stopped for fuel and saw it was about 60km to Algeceras. A red bull and sandwhich later I was back on it getting away from the holiday resorts and gliding towards my next location, ironically called the Rio Grande!
I checked the batteries and saw my phone had 4% left. Hmm I’ll not concern it with putting in the final destination just yet, I’ll let it build some power. The solar charger had given up trying to charge anything and the bike charger was painfully slow. The spare rechargeable batteries are in the luggage hidden away. Its ok I can charge everything later. Roundabout after roundabout the bike whisked through them. As I climbed a non too steep hill I suddenly felt a drop in power, I pulled in the clutch and the engine cut out, glancing over my shoulder as I went towards the kerb I saw smoke! Stopping safely I got off the bike and looked round it, nothing obvious. I felt the engine and it was hot but the frame was not. The oil in this bike is stored in the frame where it cools, but it doesn’t cool that much. I took out the dipstick and there was no oil showing. I gently prodded the kickstart and she turned over. It was time to get busy. I unpacked the luggage so I could get to the tool kit. Then I started to look for the rechargeable batteries. I searched all the bags but they weren’t there. I was trying to think where I had put them but drew a blank only being able to picture them on my bed waiting to be packed. OK well you’ll just have to get on with it. I took off most of my riding kit and donned the sun hat, took the plug out. It looked ok and had a spark, I replaced it anyway. I listened as I turned her over gently but there was nothing much to hear, could it be dodgy fuel? I kicked her over proper, nothing, then again and this time I heard the death rattle of a bearing deep inside the engine. DJ had partially seized. There was no way she would start and trying would just wear me out. At that moment I had a thought, those batteries are in the small bag you haven’t looked in yet. Sure enough they were and soon the phone was suckling on power. Now I’ve read many travel books and heard many people talk about travels and one thing that always comes up is that when all hope is lost someone on a moped turns up and knows someone who can help. I waited ages! No bloody moped. So I put in my destination and great joy I was only 7km from my hotel. Seven kilometres I can do that in an hour, pushing a heavy bike and gear. Again no saviour, just a hot long push. Sometimes there were downhill moments and I managed to sit on the bike as it coasted. One time as I jumped on I knocked it into gear, the resultant grinding and crunching told me it was serious.