France and Spain – 2005

Well it all seemed like a good idea at the beginning; four of us were going, then down to three, then to two and that just left Ray me but we decided to sod it and decided to go for it anyway, so with the GPS setup on my Honda  Blackbird and no map we booked the ferry and we set off.

Saturday 18th June
Ray lives in Wales (the land of rain and sheep) and I’m in the Midlands so we met up at the services on M4 – Newbury at 6am before heading down to Portsmouth. We got to Portsmouth and queued up with all the other bikers that were off on their own little adventures and we had the the usual chat, changed some money and onto the ferry we went.

The ferry left at 8.30am and after 5 hours docked at 2.30pm French time. We then headed off to my house in the south of Brittany a place called Fegreac just outside Redon.

We arrived about 6.30pm after stops for petrol and drinks as it was a bit hot on the ride down, thankfully my friend’s and neighbours did us a nice BBQ along with a load of beer to help cool us down.

Sunday 19th June
We slept well but it was still hot in the morning as we had not got anything planned we were undecided whether to go or stay for another day so we flicked a coin and at 2pm and headed south.

We headed though Plesse, Blain and on to Nantes, from there we went out on the A83 and A10 towards Bordeaux. On the way down we meet another chap called Steve a telephone engineer from down south near London somewhere? (Who actually looked like a telephone engineer?) He He. (See photos). Who had never been out the country before and so we took him with us as he was glad of some company. The three of us headed towards Bordeaux and turned off towards Libourne, by now it was a bit late and we decided to look for a hotel, pressed lodgings on the GPS and came up with a list of hotels and their phone numbers, we picked a Campanile in Bergerac which was about 25 – 30 km away, we arrived about 9.30pm has a quick shower, food and some beer. I was well impressed with the way the GPS worked it saved hours of looking for a place to stay.

Monday 20th June
Check the bikes, back into the hotel and had a quick breakfast of bread, jam and croissants. We then paid the bill of 80.26€ which included room, breakfast, a meal and 3 beers.

Ray needed a new tyre (tight git should have changed it before coming out to France) we asked at hotel and they sent us on a 10 km ride into town only to find the shop are not open on Mondays, no problem we decide as its hot and dry a slick tyre would be perfect anyway!.

We then headed off towards Villeneuye-sur-Lot, Agen, Auch and into Tarbes where we stopped off at a trucker’s cafe (Routier) for steak, chips and more diet coke, as we were eating another biker stopped for some refreshments, a chap called Michael from Belgium he told us of a nice hotel in Argeles-Gazost called Hotel Victoria (The film Hostel had only just come out at the cinema, maybe I should had watched it first before heading off to a hotel that was recommended by a stranger). I rang them and in my best French I reserved three rooms. Michael also told us of a good road that was also the highest in the Pyrenees, the D918. We started off and rode down the D918 and eventually arrived at the hotel about 6pm, we told the receptionist that Michael had sent us and she was chuffed.

Ray had the best room, shower, basin and toilet, Steve had a good size room, shower and basin, I think I stayed in the broom cupboard, small room (even for a dwarf) basin and shower. But only cost 28€.

All showered and cleaned up we went looking for more refreshments but the hotel didn’t serve beer but the breakfast the following morning more than made up for lack of beer as it was one of the best ever.

So out we go looking for food and beer, gets out the hotel not a lot about and we had to walk (swear word-walk) up 90 steps (yes I did count them) to the town. There was a smelly Basset hound going up the steps gasping and wheezing (or it could be his balls dragging on the floor) (Are you sure it wasn’t Ray’s balls hanging out of his thong? – Rig)

We found a local pub and started off on small beers then big beers, then trying to play pool, we forgot about eating till everything was starting to close. We had a small pizza and back to the hotel.

Tuesday 21st June
We obviously survived the night and after a nice breakfast we then set off down the D921 and onto the D918. It was well worth the trip up the mountain but a bit dicey in places as cars were coming around on the wrong side of the hairpin road. It was very high and the views where great. We spent most of the day up the mountain and had only done 50 miles. Going down the other side was a bit slippery as they had resurface patches on the road which was covered in loose gravel. We stopped at the ski resort for a diet coke which was quiet as there is no snow at the moment.

We then set off for Spain on the A138 towards Bielsa and just as we had just pulled up at a garage for petrol the heavens opened, so we stayed there for an hour after it seemed to have stopped. We then carried along the A138 where it pissed down like you’ve never seen before, it was bouncing off the road a foot in the air, it seemed like you were in a boat, and the hail stones hurting your arm as you’re going along. The rocks and stones all over the road made the back wheel slide all over the place. (Isn’t that how you normally ride? – Rig)

I did not see Ray and Steve stop, I carried on through the storm till it stopped then I waited but it started to rain heavy again so I drove on and stopped again I did this three or four times, by now 30 miles away from them. So I turned around and went back though the storm again to find them sheltering in a bus stop. So the three of us set off again after the rain slowed down a bit, well we got back to where I got to and then it started to rain again. (How nice I thought) shit.

Now it’s dark, late and pissing down and the lightning starts it’s all around us on the right then on the left then hits the road in the front. And this GPS is still sending me higher (I’m thinking we are the highest things up here). It goes daylight up here in these bloody hills with the lightning.

Very very frightening!!!!!!!!!

Now it gets a bit difficult as its pitch black, loads of lightning and we are still heading up those hills. We were heading for N123 to Barbastro, its dark, we are soaking wet, its 9.30 in the evening and it’s still pissing down. We decided to shelter under a bridge near the town of Barbastro (which you would not do on your own) and I’m saying to Steve your tent is getting to look good, I’m now asking if he’s got any masonry pegs. He He. So we hang around for about 45 minutes and it’s still raining so we decided to carry on (but the bridge still looked good placed to set up Steve’s tent)

We head up back up into the hills and it’s very dark and cold now and guesses what? It’s still raining and lightning and we are racing along roads now getting very tired. We head off along the A-1234 to Fraga then along C12 to Flix and to Mora la Nova,

It was about 11.15pm when Steve and Ray spotted a hotel/truckers stop closing up. The Mora Park Restaurant a quick u turn and three dripping bikers enter.

They had three very welcome rooms indeed and only cost 30€.

We could only buy the beer and crisps and take it up to the rooms as they were closing, we had three bottles each, 2 bags of crisps and then to bed. (Who said biking was good) bastards!!!

Wednesday 22nd June
We wake up to a very different day nice and sunny and it’s starting to get warm. So we put our cold, wet leathers on (very nice). The bikes are filthy all covered in grey mud; they looked like they have been on the Lombard rally.

We now are on nice and dry roads again (but a wet arse and cold around your balls – Ray didn’t seem to mind). We head out of Mora La Nova on the T-301 we then picked up the A7 towards Valencia.

We gave it some stick along the A7, pulled into the services to have a coke and some petrol, where there were two patrol cars and police; we filled up with petrol and chatted, the police kept driving around looking at us and the bikes. So when we thought they had gone we jumped on and raced down the motorway, we then pull into a second service station and the police did the same again so we went out of the services driving a bit slower, He He. We then stopped at Sagunto service station by Valencia to say goodbye to Steve as he was meeting up with his relations in Alicanti.

Ray and I went into Valencia to see about getting a new tyre. After driving through the town and a load of traffic in the heat the leathers are dry but nice and sticky with sweat (you still can’t win, still wet) good this biking lark!

We are now thirsty and stop at a small cafe and try to ask if there is a Honda dealer about, one chap decides to take us to the nearest bike shop but it’s closed till 5 pm and its now about three.

Ray said sod it lets go to Benidorm, we stayed at the Melia Benidorm hotel they have a car park under ground (nice and cool when you get your jacket on, but its like an oven outside) it is about 300 yards away from the beach, lots of bars and pools if you have the time. Ray had phoned and booked the rooms in case they turned us away being smelly bikers (it was a five star hotel).

We had a good shower, went to the hotel bar for a beer and then for a walk down to the beach (that swear word again-walk). We had to try the local bars out and a bit of people (Girly) watching. Head back to the hotel bar for more beer and bed.

Thursday 23rd June
Now this is what you call a breakfast, there is everything, English sausages, beans, bacon, ham, eggs fruit juices, water, cakes, cheese and ham, bread and croissants and it goes on.

We decided to ask at reception about bike or tyre shops; which is easier said than done as we spoke no Spanish. They sent us to one in the town that had Ray’s tyre size in. well just type in the road name into the GPS and off we go, ha ha, it does not know one way streets, and all the roads are not there. According to the machine I’m driving in no mans land?

Well we got there eventually, yep no problem but you just have to call back at 5pm as they had to order it in. Now these roads are dry and very slippery the back end slides all over the place and those bloody scooters – I’ll kill them!!

You can’t believe how they just go across red lights, cut right in front of you in the traffic. So Ray and I head up into the mountains for a quick raz around the hill sides which are very nice we end up not far from Alicanti. Back on the main road by the hotel there is a car wash with hot soapy water so we give the bike a good cleaning. We then go back to the shop about 4.30 and as they fit the new tyre we sit in the cafe drinking more cokes and we leave at 7pm with the new tyre. Cost about £150 so the motto is get new tyres before you go. (Ray!!)

Back out now for a 50 miles blast with a new tyre, then drive back to the beach at Benidorm. Where else do you find two twats sitting on the sea front on a bench in bike gear while everyone is walking around in swimwear? But a lot of people stopped and had a long chat.

Back to the hotel for a shower and down to the bar.

Friday 24th June
After waking up and having a nice a shower and the compulsory large breakfast, packed our bags, and I’m still driving in jeans and no gloves? We pay the bill of 185.14€ for two nights each (included parking for the bike) then we head out of Benidorm and back up on the A7 towards Barcelona.

As we are heading up the A7 Rays bike (that can’t go past a garage, runs out of petrol!) just as we are going around Valencia. (Nice) and right in between a junction! (GREAT). So I race off to the next turnoff, found a garage, tried to buy a tube to siphon petrol out of mine into Rays. No speaka da English (shit) point to tube and he shows me an airline. So then I buy a 5 litre tub and fill it, then force it into my top bag. It then took me an hour and a half to get back to Ray, you just can’t turn around like you can here, I ended up right past the airport (I thought this is good I’m carrying a petrol bomb) I must have done 40 miles trying to get back to Ray. We put the petrol in and race off again up the A7, pull in the next services and fill up.

Then head off to up the N145 to Andorra. Good job we are on bikes as the queues to get past the border are all down the road.

We use the GPS to find a hotel in Andorra but our phones where flat so we just drove there, but Ray preferred the nice hotel next door called the Hotel Pyrenees. As I’m with the rich bastard as Bonzo calls Ray.

This was a nice hotel; again we could park in a garage around the back,

The hotel had a bar, so what more do you need? We had a walk around town (that swear work again) had some food downtown, but the shops don’t open until 11am, lots of bike shops but no prices?

Saturday 25th June
Had our breakfast and paid the bill of 32.90€, got packed, and back on the beasts and we headed out of Andorra on the E109 and across the Pyrenees on the D163 and D613 we were heading to see the Millau bridge on the A75. But we got tired and decide to head inland a bit so we hit the main roads (eventually) we were fed up been on bumpy lanes at 35 mph. we said they should build a motorway though it. Ray did not like these roads as his Fireblade’s suspension is very hard. (Should have brought a Blackbird)

So we headed for Argen where we found an Ibis hotel in the town centre which cost 61.50€. When we walked in we were so hot we left our bags at reception, sat on a bar stool our shirts where soaking wet with sweat, we had 2 large beers which did not touch the side as we drank them. The barmaid turned around to us amazed that she had to fill them up again. We then headed up to our rooms for nice showers, after we walked up the street to a restaurant where we had a nice meal and more lager.

Back to the hotel bar and more lager.

Sunday 26th June
Get up go for the continental breakfast. We pay the bill of 61.50€, load the bikes up and we are off again. We start heading north again across the country after 3 hours of not getting very far decided to hit the main roads back to Brittany we race up the A10 we cut across country to get to Fegreac, but hard driving, big country, getting nowhere, decide to hit the main roads again. We arrived at my house about 6.30 pm had some beer, shower and went out for a pizza in our friends car. We returned after more beer and went to bed.

Monday 27th June
We get up have a shower and after a lazy couple of hours packed the bikes and headed for Redon, Rennes and the port of Le Havre. We stopped at the services for food and petrol and we got on the boat about 4.30pm which then docked at 9.30pm

Ferry crossing cost £88.00 + the travel insurance from Carol Nash that was £37.00. We did 3,000 miles cost about 330€ in petrol and hotel fees of 417.30€ but that’s with two free nights at our house but what fun we had!

Let’s do it again tomorrow, now where did I put that GPS unit?
— Bob

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Posted in 2005, Ride Outs

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