8. 717 miles in one day

717miles in a day. More of the mileage later. I was awake at 7am and ready to go, I knew it would be a long day, I wanted an early start, as it is 700 plus miles to the event in three days and I would like a day off. However I hit the snooze button and before I knew it 10am was fast approaching and I was still on the campsite. A speedy trip to the bathroom, bung in some new eyes and I was off. Headed for Faro initially. It seemed to take quite a while and already I was feeling the heat of the day building. I had plenty of water but I was clearly going to need more. From Faro I headed East on the N125 to avoid tolls, passing the point I had said farewell to Colin and Raven. A firm handshake from Colin and a fist bump from Raven. Again it seemed to take an age to reach the Spanish border, but apart from a welcome notice there was nothing to indicate a change of country. I fuelled up and hit the road headed for Seville. The temperature now was into the 30’s and I could feel my bare arms starting to burn. I don’t recall stopping again until Seville where I dived into a McDonald’s for some air conditioning, cold drinks and free WiFi. The bike sat outside in baking temperatures and I worried how she would cope in these conditions. I must have been there an hour before stepping out again into the sauna. I got my jacket out because I needed arms covered from the sun. The bike was still red hot and I tried to be gentle with her. Before long the sun was directly overhead and my neck was starting to burn so I headed for the next petrol station. It was a bit off the beaten track but had all the facilities I needed, a toilet, water, and shade. I drank over a litre of water, topped up my water bottle and dripped some on the exhaust of the bike. It hissed and evaporated immediately. I couldn’t risk trying to cool her that way so I settled down for half an hour. The weather report said hot hot hot all day. I dug around in my kit and pulled out my winter neck cover, why did i pack this? Ripping out the wooly bit I then had a summer neck protector. I opened all the vents on my jacket and emptied two litres of water over myself, rubbing it into the jacket, my jeans, the helmet, neck protector and saddle. It felt good for the first twenty minutes, after which it had evaporated and I was back in the furnace. I wanted to make Cordoba as I knew the road was long and boring. After that I would benefit from just getting as far up the road towards Valencia as possible. That would make for extra time to visit places and actually take photographs. The tank seemed to take forever to empty and when I switched to reserve it was gone 5pm. I fuelled my bike, began the ritual of filling my hydration pack and eating a small bar of chocolate. It was getting close to 40 degrees and I knew I might have to seek a campsite soon as everything was so hot. I was stood sipping water and eating an ice cream when my phone bleeped. It was Colin. It was the first contact today. Message ‘not good news mate. Fucking major issue’. I thought that perhaps his bike had failed again so I replied ‘ what’s happened, where and when’ Message ‘Up in Spain. Raven had a major off, can’t believe it’. Time to stop the texts and call. I will never forget this. Mate what’s happened? Raven has had an accident. Is she ok? No mate. A hospital job? Worse than that. What? It’s fatal. I asked some questions but really I can’t recall what. I did ask Colin where he was and he didn’t know so I told him to get me a town name and I was on my way. Minutes later the town name arrived Caspe. I plumbed it into the sat nav. It was the equivalent of a whole day riding. The sat nav told me it would be 2am by the time I arrived. I clamped my hands to my head, pacing about repeatedly saying “fuck fuck fuck, no, what the fuck”. All completely wasted on anyone who could hear. I text my sister the news and asked for the British Consulate numbers. Having got those I called them. They were very kind and helpful. I then quickly emailed Austin Vince, organiser of the off road event i am due to ride and Rachael, a friend who wanted a chat about a web site she is develloping. I doused my clothes again in water jumped aboard and set off. It was a dual carriageway mostly and as I rode along, fairly numb to the heat, my surroundings and other road users, I thought about Raven and how we had such a great time. A friendship kindling that would surely last. At one point we had likened ourselves to Muppet characters. In my helmet I whispered “bye muppet” and promptly bawled my eyes out. Really I dont recall much of the ride except the part shortly after setting off where the Speedo cable snapped. No biggy, I know my bike will do 250km on a tank and have 50km in the reserve tank. My only record of distance now was the sat nav that only told me how far to the next junction in miles. This was just the right time for a maths test. OK 50km on reserve equates to about 36 miles. The rest didn’t matter as long as I made mental notes when I switched to reserve. Then I saw in the top left corner of the screen it said miles to destination. More maths determined this was going to be at least three tanks of fuel and it was going to be tight if I didn’t get the fuelling right. The big problem was that my visor was bug splattered, my contacts were salty and washing around the sockets from tears and the sat nav is mounted on a flexi coupling. The next fuel stop came and went in a blurr. As I continued north I saw that all the windmills I had admired on the way down were now in semi darkness and all had synchronised flashing lights. The horizon lit up in a stroboscopic display. Raven and I had shared our thoughts on the relative beauty of windmills and the great use they make of the world’s free energy. Inside my helmet I thanked her for the view. Suddenly the bike cut out, I knew this to be the need for fuel. Typically I had just passed the 24hr fuel station sign. It’s ok I will make the next one. I did make the next one and the sat nav told me I was 206 miles from my destination, it was 10pm and light was fading, at 50mph I was still 4 hours away. I ditched my contact lenses and reverted to glasses, causing my vision to blurr until the my eyes adjusted. With 200mile range this was gojng to be a challenge. I rode on having text Colin that I was still coming to him and asking him to book me a room. I was quite adamant that there would be more fuel. The last time I had looked the sat nav had said continue for 100 miles, but now it said take the next exit. I took that exit and stopped to check the sat nav hadn’t thrown a wobbly. It was adamant I needed to take the N330. I happily took that road as sun had now set my lights were proving to be quite ineffective with all the weight on the back of the bike. I had no choice my mate needed me. I had judged speed by the rev counter, oh yes remember in episode one when I noticed the rev counter bulb had blown!! The route was torturous, with twisting lanes barely wide enough for a car and steep hills that sapped the bikes power. This would have been biking nirvana during the day, but now it was biking hell with constant warnings of wildlife and sharp bends. I could see silhouetted mountains as I climbed but inside I wanted straight simple roads for effective mpg and ease of progress. Tiny little villages came and went in darkness. Occasionally a group of youngsters would be stood at the roadside having heard the rattle of the single cylinder 650 thundering its way towards them. I was tense in my shoulders from watching the darkened roads and still being upset at the circumstances of my ride. I lost count of the miles done and I really couldn’t see the miles to go as the sat nav had turned to night mode. Then I took a turn and the sat nav said continue for 32 miles, at the roadside a sign said 30km to the next fuel station. OK 32km is about 18 miles 18 from 32 is 14, when the sat nav says 14miles I will be at the fuel station. I continued on. At 14miles their was a small village with a fuel station but before I even got there I knew it would be closed. This was the back of beyond. I now had just 40 miles to go. Suddenly the bike cut out. I switched to reserve, that’s it I’m not going to make it. I will get close but not make it. These are dark and unforgiving roads at night. But I needed a game plan. Obviously there may be a fuel station along the way but I wasn’t feeling it. So let’s reduce air resistance. I had done this earlier when overtaking lorries in the open plains where cross winds attack you. I ducked down behind the fairing and took one hand off the handlebars, holding the other as straight as possible so it didnt droop into the airflow. At junctions I would sit up and control the bike proper. Also when I didnt have a clear view I would sit up. Feathering the throttle to get maximum fuel economy, easing it on at the hills and off for descents. I tried not to use the brakes as that is wasted energy. Slowly the miles came down. Then a sign for Caspe only six miles, but I needed it to be just one mile. I knew the road number and if there was signal I could always get Colin to send a taxi for me. Oh good it was a steep road cut between two signal sapping hills. I longed for the downhill and in time it came, leading to a roundabout where my sat nav informed me I had reached my destination, but I hadn’t. Colin had sent me the hotel details in a photograph and I needed to put that into the sat nav. Engine off I squinted with tired eyes to make out the address and plumbed it in. 1 mile, for goodness sake will this ever end. I text Colin, Informing him I may not make it and rode round into what looked like a High Street. Stopping again and switching the engine off I looked for anything resembling a hotel. It’s 230am everything looks grey and the same, but up the road I saw a character waving a phone torch light in the street. I had made it, my amazing little bike had done an impossible days work and delivered me safely to Colins location. I rode into the underground car park and we greated each other with a hug. The bike remained loaded up and we went to my room where Colin explained the whole story. We both needed sleep and would deal with things later that day. I was in pain, my hand ached from holding the throttle for 14hours, my arse was red raw and my shoulders ached. I didnt sleep much but when I did it was deep and restful.

Author: benjackson63

A new adventure biker just starting out on my blogging adventures.

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