A quick detour into France






Interesting experience trying to get food last night. Andorra is known for 2 things, skiing and having more fuel stations per 100m than any other country in Europe. This is mainly because the fuel is so cheap, visitors come in from both Spain and France to fill up so near the border they are just right next to each other.

Apparently it is not know for serving food before 8pm. We (the Danish biker and I) tried a number of restaurants at 6:30 to be told, not until 8pm but we eventually found a place that looked somewhat questionable and staffed by a waiter who spoke no English. However, the food that turned up was both very good and very well priced so it turned out well.

Out of Andorra and up and over the El Pas d la Casa (2408 m - the highest pass in the Pyrenees and with 3 petrol stations only 50m apart) and then down and back into France for the day.

A mix of mountain passes and faster trunk roads let me cover 320km in just under 6 hours before I arrived here at my campsite carefully positioned to get me back into Spain and to Santander in time for my ferry tomorrow. There is probably still 4 hours of good riding before I pick up the motorway to get into the ferry port and I fully intend to make the most of what is left.

The Dragon fly on picture 4 is alive but don't know how long he has been on there and where he hitched a ride from.

Time to chill out now and as it is my last night camping, I get to eat all the food that is left. Someone in a DofE office somewhere will have a fit as I am not saving any emergency rations.

Andorra the Explorer






Whether the blog title means anything to you may well depend on your age or age of your children. If in doubt, click here for an explanation.

This was a last minute addition to my tour for the simple reason that until I started on this trip, I had no idea that Andorra was deemed to be a separate independent country in its own right, I just assumed it was part of Spain but now I know better.

The journey today was around 350km and only a mere 5 hours gave me a mix of mountains and flatter lands before climbing up and arriving here in Andorra at around 1000m. Hopefully this will mean a cooler night as it is pretty hot right now.

The 4th picture is approaching the only manned border I have seen on my whole route though I didn't have to stop or show my passport.  The fuel is so cheap here as is the food and drink so have already fuelled the bike up and will be doing the same to myself shortly.

On the campsite, I met up with a Danish biker who is on week 5 of his trip having already done the Eastern parts and is now heading West.

I need to make a decision tonight about my plans tomorrow whether is is stay in Spain or loop round into France for a day before reaching Santander on Wednesday.

A Bug's Life (ended today)






Sadly a bug lost his (or her) life on my camera lens today. Sad for him/her) as he/she is dead but sad for me as he/she has messed up my photos.

I was cold last night in my flimsy little summer sleeping bag, I was cold when I got out of the tent at 7am and then the bike told me it was only 9 degrees. Coming to the mountains for cooler morning rides was my plan but this was a little too cool. Heated grips and seat used in Spain, in July!! All turned off by 8:30 though as it was already over 20 degrees by then and topped out at 33 degrees around 1pm.

The route was over another couple of mountain passes at 1600m and 1659m as I made my way from being inland back towards the coast to set myself up for my final goal of the trip tomorrow. I passed lots of different rock formations today as well as using a section of dead straight road that was 16km long. Perhaps that is all the straight bits from the roads I have ridden over the last few days.

Just over 500km done today (no motorways) in around 7 hours saw me arrive here at my campsite mid afternoon in time to jump in the pool and then hide in the shade to write the blog. The beach is around 2km away so I may wander down later if it cools down a bit.

Moons, Mountains and Plains








I stayed up late (for me) last night and saw the Blood Moon at around 11pm with a very bright Mars just below it though my picture does not do it justice.

Today was an up and down kind of day. After leaving the campsite at 7:30 it was bend, followed by bend heading up and up into The Sierra Nevada mountains until I went through the Puerto de la Ragua pass at 2000m (where it was a lovely 16 degrees) before descending to some of the flattest land I have ever seen.

As I was riding through these plains, I have expected to see a herd of buffalo or a elephants wander by. I recall being told "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain" but there was no rain falling today and it was up to 33 degrees again by midday.

I made it into the campsite here by 2pm so that I could pitch up and hide in the shade for the afternoon. 6 1/2 hrs and only about 360km done today due to the nature of the very windy road

I think I will try and be away earlier tomorrow if possible so I can remain cool for longer, however there is a balance as early starts riding East means riding direct into a very low sun which has it own problems.

Mountains and coast







What a day! I left the hotel around 10am and completed a full lap of Gibraltar, it was already getting hot. I used the motorway to get round the Monstropolis (Monstrosity + Metropolis) that is Malaga and then selected "avoid motorways" and followed the smaller roads.  The route above is approx. but I was on the N340 hugging the coast rather than the A7 which this is showing.

I have been up and over numerous mountain passes, had bend after bend after bend, hit 36 degrees at one point before returning to the coast for a sea breeze and a much cooler 27 degrees, before heading high again to my planed night here at Trevelez in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. The last 20km to get here was just the icing on the cake with awesome views and great biking roads.

The art to motorcycle touring is staying hydrated and synchronising ones bladder with the fuel tank on the bike. Today I award myself 1/10 as following my run this morning I over hydrated and had to have a few stops and then get properly dehydrated this afternoon so couldn't go when I filled up with fuel. I will try harder tomorrow.

Rumour has it that the temp will be sub 20 degrees here tonight and that there will be an awesome Blood Moon which as there is virtually no light pollution then hopefully will give some great photos for tomorrows blog.

A run up "The Rock"





The day started with a quick run up to the top of The Rock of Gibraltar which is 426m high. I took the winding roads up but they were much steeper than they looked on the map. Great views from the top of the bay and across to Morocco

I took the direct route down the Charles V Wall which is basically a set of very steep knee shattering steps and bumped into the local Barbary Macaques along the way.

Having been advised to avoid trying to leave Gibralter between 8am and 9am as the queues at the border would be bad, I am now slowly packing the bike with a plan to b on the road by 10am which is by far the latest start time of this trip.

Heading South is no longer an option




 

What a rough night! Too hot to sleep properly and a dog barking constantly. In the early hours, I heard a noise in my porch during the night and there was a cat in there. It soon got sent on its way.

After starting the bike up at 7:06am (just to make sure no one would complain about the 7am rule), today was a mile munching day where all roads are game on and so it was a mix of motorway ring roads to avoid large towns and fast trunk roads in between. Goodbye Portugal and back into Spain for another of the goals for this trip. That was to get to the most southerly point on mainland Europe which is the small island at Tarifa. Sadly you are not allowed to drive along the causeway so I had to walk the last 200 metres or so to the fort.

I have now been to the North ,South and West points of Europe but East will take some planning as people can't agree where it is. There are a number of options but as people can't decide if Mont Blanc or Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe, I may need to do a lot of research.

After Tarifa, it was a short blast along the coast road looking out at the mountains of Morocco on my right to reach my destination for the night, Gibraltar (picture 4 showing the rock in the background).  It was very odd to drive across the runway to get to my hotel and here I am, in a hotel enjoying the air conditioning to write my blog.

I fully intended to go to the top of the rock on my arrival but with temps of about 35 degrees, I will be going up much later this evening (or even at 5am tomorrow). There is a coffee shop about 100 metres away so I will attempt to walk there n a few minutes without passing out.

'Go West" - "I can't, there is no more land"







Since 1979 The Village People having been telling us to "Go West". Well I did that today and I ran out of road.

A great start to the day that was overcast and never went above 20 degrees allowed me to ride for a full 4 hours stopping just once for fuel before my first major goal of this trip.

Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point on mainland Europe. What was really nice was that coffee and cake was only a third of the price of the same at Nordkapp.

After my snack there, I used the toll motorway to bypass Lisbon but that didn't go well. When I approached the toll both I saw what I thought was a bike lane and rolled through thinking it was nice they didn't charge bikes.  Well, 50km later I found out it wasn't a bike lane and had to explain to a man in a booth why I had no ticket. 30 euro fine for me. but I did shave off about 50km and 2 hours form the route above

Anyway, back on the nice roads and I was heading south. A quick glance at the dahs saw 31 degrees and I was wondering how much hotter it would get, fortunately the answer was only 32. I had a few visitors inside my helmet today but fortunately none of them bit or stung me for which I am very grateful

Then I arrived here, just outside Faro in The Algarve and it was everything I dreamed (had nightmares) it would be.

35 euro for a night, are you serious? apparently it includes free wifi available only in reception and the bar. Well as I spent 40 mins in reception queuing to book in I have no intention of sitting there for wifi and no intention of going to the bar either.

"You must leave your pitch by 11am tomorrow sir"
"Ok I will be gone by 7"
"You can't drive a vehicle on site before 7am"
"Ok, I will go at 7:01"
"You can't go before 8am as reception wont be open"
"Why do I need to go into reception to leave"
"You will need to collect your ID back"
"I am not leaving my id with you"
"Why not?"
"Because I am leaving before you open"

 And what a crap pitch it is, not a blade of grass in site!

So, I went for a walk down to the beach, picked my way through the scores of lobster like holiday makers and went for a swim. got out of the water, picked my way back through the lobsters and headed back to the site to rant on this blog.

After reaching tomorrows goal, on Friday I will be heading back inland a bit away form the south coast and all the British holiday makers.

Portugal, you have great roads too!






With my sat nav just set in the general direction of Lisbon and motorways turned off I set off from the campsite this morning open minded about where I was going.

The start to the day was great, a bit of cloud cover kept the temps under 20 and then up and over some Spanish and then Portuguese mountain passes when I was actually in the cloud, which kept me cool until about 10:30 (or so I thought). I realised pretty quickly that once I had entered Portugal the clocks went back an hour so it was 09:30 and therefore very hot or that time of the morning.

The sign in second photo down (you may have to zoom in) was a little confusing but I just kept going.

Anyway, the day went on, the bends through the vineyards went on for smiles and smiles (yes I know it is kilometres but the joke won't work then) For the best part of two hours nothing was straight and I actually wanted a short bit of no bends to get into 4th gear and to relax but no, the hairpins kept coming.

The last hour or so was on a faster trunk road so although not short on curves, there were far fewer hairpins and more open corners to keep the power on and the km rolled by.

So this is where I ended up A great little off the beaten track campsite which although not by the sea or a river, does have its own pool so I still got and end of day dip (albeit a little chlorinated).

I forgot a few things yesterday so have been back and added them to the blog if you fancy checking back

Sometimes Plans Change







When I left the campsite this morning, the plan was to use the motorways to skirt Bilbao and Santander and then return to the coast roads and continue along the north coast of Spain. So, how did I end up here then ….

Well, change is good.

I was riding along and was about to return to the coast after Santander when I remembered how good the "Pots and Pans" road was (Ok, Potes and Panes) so I decided to go to Potes for elevenses. I then thought I would just pop (25km each way) to Fuente De into the heart of the Picos de Europas and then my next idea was to see what the N621 heading south from Potes was like. I tell you, it was awesome and so glad I did it. It was obvious by this point that I was by now a long way from the coast so I set the Sat Nav to head for Portugal and to avoid any major roads.

The last photo shows (from Google Earth) how good the N621 is

I didn't make it to Portugal but I have found a very nice site that is quiet, has a river to swim in and most importantly has shade.

My French is passable, my Spanish is poor but my Portuguese is non existent so may be fun for the next few days once I cross the border.

Late additions:

Highlight was entering at tunnel at 30 degrees and watch the temp gauge on the bike drop to 19. I stayed in that tunnel for a long as possible going very slow until a car came up behind. Exiting the tunnel hitting a wall of heat was like going into a sauna.

Lowlight was in Leon. Please Spanish authorities do not put big bins by traffic lights as when they are on red and it is 30 plus degrees, I have to sit there marinating in the stench.