Day 1 - Get your Mojo working

Friday 25th August 2017

It is 250 miles to my first night's destination. The sun is shining here in Doncaster and it's a warm day with a light backwind to push me south. Mick stops by to see me off. We got home from our Montenegro tour a month ago and I'm sorry he is not coming on ths trip.
But I'm used to solo touring now. It has a wholly different dynamic when you are on your own.

I am riding my R1200s for this tour. It is lighter and easier to ride than it's heavier older brother and I have used it for touring for 12 years now. There will be no camping on this trip so the sports panniers and a tank bag are more than adequate for the gear I need to pack.

My route today is almost exclusively on the motorways. I have a ferry booked to Spain leaving at 08:45 tomorrow morning so I have arranged to stay overnight with Mojomick, an old buddy from the UK Buell group, who lives in Sturminster Marshall, a village down near the New Forest and a handy 50 miles from the Portsmo…

Day 2 - On the Ferry

Saturday 26th August 2017

I wave goodbye to Mojo at at 6am after a quick cup of coffee. It is a cold morning with a hint of drizzle. It's only an hour on the motorway to the ferry dock but I don't want to be late.

The Brittany Ferries boat is the Baie de Seine, billed as a no-frills ferry. I really do not appreciate swimming pools, casinos and cinemas on ferries. I just want to get to my destination and as long as I can get a beer and a sandwich on board I'm happy. 

The crossing to Santander on the north coast of Spain will take thirty hours. At £296 one-way it is expensive as I am paying for a 4-berth cabin for solo use. I've learned from experience that long routes with just a seat to sleep in does not work so well for me.

 A crewmember straps down my bike for me so I grab the minimal gear I need and head off to find my cabin.

As we sail out of the harbour I see the new British naval aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, that has been in the news all week. It has just co…

Day 3 - Run for the Hills

Sunday 27th August 2017

The sea is like a sheet of glass all the way across Biscay and I sleep very well on the Baie de Seine. Breakfast is coffee and croissants. The ferry arrives on time and of course it is raining. So much for escaping to Spain for a bit of sun.

Although it is wet it is also quite warm. and so the perennial problem arises; to suit up and sweat or hope for an improvement in the weather and risk an early soaking? I need fuel anyway so I delay the decision until I have found a service station and filled up.

Fuel is slightly cheaper here in Spain than in the UK at €1.17 per litre. After an immigration process that is only a quick passport check I make a pit stop and consider my options. It is raining harder now so I struggle into the waterproof suit and head off along the A67 and M8 motorways to Cabazon de la Sal where a side road leads me up into the mountains of the Picos d'Europa.

It is very beautiful here. The roads are empty of traffic, very twisty and all have a …

Day 4 - Up to the Top

Monday 28th August 2017

At the end of a twisty back road half an hour's ride to the west of Potes lies the tiny village of Fuente Dé with its cable car ride up into the central heights of the Picos de Europa. Wikipedia has this to say about it:

The line covers a 753-metre (2,470 ft) vertical drop. Its bottom station is located at 1,090-metre (3,576 ft) and the upper one at 1,850-metre (6,070 ft). Cabins transport capacity is of 20 people and the trip, which does not have intermediate stops, lasts 3'40". ...Fuente Dé ropeway is the longest single-span aerial lift of Europe.

After breakfast at the Hotel Valdecora I ride up there to Fuente Dé to have a look. I arrive before 10am on a Monday morning but already there are a lot of cars in the car park and a queue has formed at the ticket office.

It costs €17 for an adult return fare and you must go get a ticket from the gift shop / cafe before joining the queue for the cable car itself.

There are several hundred people ahead of …

Day 5 - Heading West

Tuesday 29th August 2017

In the early morning the sun is shining with the promise of a hot day ahead as I load my gear onto the bike. Today I shall be riding west through the heart of the Cantabrian Mountains to San Martin in Asturia. The route is around 125 miles mostly on small roads over a series of passes and peaks.

I have breakfast with my new Welsh friends. To my eternal shame I can find no reference to their names or email addresses in my notes, so sorry guys, hopefully you may come across this blog one day and remember our evening together in Potes.

 I get constant flashes of déjà vu on these roads. I have ridden them before but then it was in the opposite direction so the memories are not precise. The R1200s is thrumming along and I'm loving the twisty mountain curves and hairpins. There is hardly any traffic here, tourism has not really taken off in these parts yet. There are plenty of cows wandering free on the highway though. It's not difficult to avoid them, they lea…

Day 6 - Add a New Country to the List

Wednesday 30th August 2017

The weather forecast is not good for today. After days of almost unbroken sunshine there is a weather front coming in from the north. Fortunately my route plan will take me south today.

I leave the Hotel Posta at 10am. I'm heading west for a few miles then turning south for a run through the mountains and down to the border with Portugal. The first section is lovely as I follow a narrow river gorge then up and over a mountain pass. Puerto de San Lorenzo lies 1347 metres above sea level.

Further south I leave Asturias and enter the region of Castile and Leon. A high pass called Los Portillinos rises to almost 2000m. For the first time on this trip the road surfaces are poor and it is hard work threading my way over the broken carriageway and loose gravel to be found on the numerous hairpins. 

I'm still on rural roads and the high passes are in cloud, cold and clammy. There is virtually no traffic. finally I drop down to a small town where I lunch on bocad…

Day 7 - Mainly on the Plain

Thursday 31st August 2017

I wake up feeling pretty flakey. But I have a long ride planned today so I have to get up and about. Breakfast is at 08:30 which is 09:30 in Spain, so it is midday in Spain by the time I reach the border.
But first a word about the lovely breakfast I am served up. As well as the usual bread, cheese, ham, jams and marmalade, and a variety of fruit I am also served scrambled eggs and bacon. Just the job. I feel a lot better after that.

All this costs just €60. It is €40 for the B&B and just €20 for last night's two course meal which included a litre of wine and unlimited brandy. I like Portugal.

I must make another visit to this country. But for now I want to head back across Spain to the Pyrenees. There is no way to avoid crossing the central lowlands but I have planned a route that is mostly on dual carriageways and motorways so average speeds can be high.The road up to the border about 20 miles away is a fine sweeping motorway. In Spain the next section …