Well let’s see now, last time I blogged there had been a few ales sunk. So let’s get up to speed. I know nothing of football but hey I’m in the south of France in a bar and its the Euro thingy final. France are playing Portugal, so at some point I’m going to be in the winning teams country. France lost and the evening’s entertainment was cut short. But I had made friends, cheered on a team and eaten pizza thanks to the lady who purchased more than she could eat. At least I think that’s what she meant! Anyway it was very nice. After the curtailed festivities I made my way back to the campsite and crawled drunkenly onto the air bed. I was woken sometime later by an enormous thunderstorm. It seemed to go on for ages. If it were not for my throbbing head I would have taken some pictures. As it was, the rain fell all night. The bike was not covered which meant by morning my sheepskin saddle cover was drenched. I pulled back the tent flap and crawled out, managing three steps before throwing up. Morning campers, don’t mind me blowing chunks as you eat your corn flakes!
Anyway if it needed proving, I can confirm lack of food and excess beer is no cure for dehydration. To the bathroom to clean up and put in some eyes for the day. I’ve had contacts for nearly a year and still struggle to poke myself in the eyes. However it beats the hell out of putting specs on and off with a crash helmet. All of which goes out the window when the sun shines as sunnies are called for.
I digress. The bike was ready in double quick time and I said bon voyage to the French biker couple who are making their way back to their home in LaRochelle. I rode out and quickly picked up the road to Pau. Immediately bursting into Carol Deckers hits ‘China in your hand’ and ‘Heart and Soul’ (Ta Pau). Once I got to Pau (It was a theme she had, On a scheme he had, told in a foreign land, To take life on earth, To the second birth and the man was in command. “I’ll stop now”) I found myself in yet another McD’s having coffee and a burger to bolster my grumbling tummy.
I then followed signs for Oloron St Marie where I had seen a road on the map that looked twisty, rather than the main road into the Pyrenees. It was biking heaven with no more than 50m of straight between bends and it went on for ages, although no great increase in altitude I seemed to think. When eventually the road came to an end I had done some weird dog leg and was still 30km from the road proper. Looking at the map now I can’t recall where exactly I was when I first saw the mountains looming up into the cloud but it was a breath taking site. The Sun was breaking through from what had been quite a dull start and I had a good feeling about this next section. What followed was an attack on the senses. The air was cleaner, I mean you could taste the lack of any pollution, the sights were beyond description for a mere mortal like me. Mother nature (or God if you like) has done a wonderful job to create such sights.
The roads were sublime, perfect tarmac with mostly long sweeping bends affording ever more breath taking vista’s at every turn. Even the bike sounded content purring away under me as we climbed the 6000 ft to the top. I stopped several times to take pictures and also got some gopro footage for later. I hope I have managed to add some pictures to this blogg by the time it goes live. It was so good the miles slipped past, well the kilometres actually as my bike is Spanish by origin and as such has a kilometre speedo. Unfortunately the UK law states that it must have a mph speedo and so to get round this the dealer slapped a sticker over the top of the original dial. The net effect is that you cannot see the kph for the sticker which is hopelessly inaccurate for use in UK.
So I made it through to Spain and started the journey south in blistering heat. My right leg burning at the ankle from heat generated by the exhaust. I knew I should have put that heat shield back on. Yet more breath taking scenery followed with the mountains replaced by wide open spaces, massive expanses of land as far as the eye could see. It made me realise that in the UK you can always tell its an island because the views never open up like this. Don’t get me wrong I have seen wonderful places within the UK, mostly through the rain but they are there. Talking of rain, there was a heavy downpour headed my way and I really needed to find cover, if not the side pouch of the throwovers may have to be opened and no one wants that, oh no! With the best timing ever a service station and café came into view with a covered parking area so I dived in. Burger and chips ordered I sat down to catch up with Colin and Raven. They were still in France and making good progress. The rain passed without hitting the café area and after a coffee I hit the road again. An hour later the bike needed a fuel and I, the chance to cool down a little, so I pulled into a service station and topped up. Now, if my French is poor my Spanish is non existent and I have to be grateful that sign language and other people’s decent education gets us through. It was here that I saw battery banks for sale. These small units can charge or recharge your phone or laptop several times from one charge of their own. I have limited knowledge on such things and would have purchased one if I was certain it would charge up from my remaining USB point on the bike. However much sign language and shrugging of shoulders between me and the very kind assistant couldn’t resolve this dilemma. I’m hoping the question I have posted on the HU website will answer that soon. Outside as the bike cooled in what little shade there was, I drank my energy drink. The can had Valentino Rossi on it so I am confident my riding will improve, especially the leg wave! As I gulped the fizzy gunge a Harley style bike pulled in with rider and pillion dressed in black leather. The pillion stepped off and came over. They are both French from LeHarve and are on their way to the Faro bike meet. They seemed impressed that I was also venturing that way despite the fact we had completed much the same route. We chatted for a while before I headed off, bikers are friendly people and it was great to know that we all get along wherever we meet. I was headed towards Zaragosse which the bikers had told me was an expensive place to stay. Decision made, as the riding was going so well I would carry on another 60 miles and then look for a campsite. The road was the A2 and as its lavish description alludes to it was a long straightish dual carriageway. I invented a new game, as cars pass check the passenger and point to the gopro then wave. Loads of people waved back, next time I will turn the camera on. I stopped probably 100miles from Madrid and plugged campsites into the sat nav on my phone. Excellent there were loads back at Zaragosse and none here. OK its wild camping time. I picked up some water and headed off road to find somewhere discrete. I located a spot on a hillside within sight of the road. I pitched the tent behind a bush and covered the bike behind another. That was it, I’m wild camping. It was at this point I sat in my little tent and started this blogg, getting used to the noises that would no doubt wake me during the night, but if I could recognise them now there would be no issue when it was dark. It as nearly 9pm when I heard dogs howling close by and I poked my head out to see what that was all about. What followed was the sight of three wild dogs chasing a small rodent just about 100m from my tent. They got it and ripped it to pieces before scampering off the nearby shrubs. I was in no mood to have to protect myself from wild dogs, armed only with a pen knife and a packet of M&M’s I didn’t stand much chance. So, can you pack up and leave a camp site in under five minutes? I can do it in 3. I could even see a hotel from my hillside and within 20 minutes I was in opulent glory. Expensive opulent glory, but what price your life?
Anyhow the blog I had written got stuck in the blogger app and had to be deleted so I have written this all for a second time. My apologies for lack of photos again but I will find time to learn how its done and actually stop to take more. I’m having so much fun and the views appear so often I just want more. Maybe I need to slow it down some and that is the plan for today (I’m writing this on Tuesday 12th or day 4). Hopefully this will all copy over into blogger and I will do more tonight.