KM START = 10,370
(Trip = 0)
Route: London >
Newhaven > Dieppe > Paris > Moulins > Clermont Ferrand > Issoire
With a 1:00 AM ferry
the following morning, it would be easy to think I had enough time up my sleeve
to just jump on a bike and head 100 miles to the South Coast of England to get a
ferry, perhaps have a quite cuppa at home before I go, but like all good
adventures the time disappears quickly
There was a perverse
pleasure in driving through the traffic of Bayswater Road up to Marble Arch at
7PM. 3 Lanes absolutely chock full of pissed off stockbrokers (Probably some
damned IT Consultants too!) going
nowhere. Even impassable on a motorbike, but the thought of “There ain´t no
congestion charge where I´m going” keeps me in a state of Zen like serenity.
Driving out of
London, I fill up the bike (26 Litres) and zero the clocks at the service
station in Brixton. And with a degree of fanfare. George the local rasta is on a
bit of a bender, but has the decency to come over and wish me we well. His
reflections on the great days of Jeff Thompson (he notices an Aussie twang)
bowling to the greats of Richards, Lloyd and Haynes gives me pause to reflect on
the most recent Australian cricket triumph. George’s obvious excitement of
finding a kindred spirit also means that my visor and bike won´t need a wash
for another 1000 kms, as his salivary glands appear to been large benefactors of
the afternoons deparching of thirst. Its all well worth the 2 quid he asks for.
The irony of heading
off to exotic destinations around the world and departing from NEWHAVEN is not
lost on me. For all of those who have not been to this sleepy English port town,
you can count yourself blessed. But my imagination is stirred at midnight when
an old chap comes and strikes up the “nice bike, where ya headed?”
conversation. Vague answer of Spain and then Morocco kicks him into gear, as he
points to his pickup truck with a Honda XR400 Trail Bike on the Back.
Talk about dumb luck!
This lad’s spent the last 30 years going back and forth to Morocco and finding
the best roads, so he gladly imparts the golden knowledge of where to go.
Disturbingly, all the “Where not to go” seeps in one ear and out the
other…which valley was the dangerous Hash growing region where armed bandits
vigilantly patrol? Bugger, forgot that bit, but the Dades Valley has an
excellent biker hotel and trails as far as the eye can see!
penny scroungers sleeping cabin for one (Childrens Ball Room with the padded
mats) is my slumber zone for the 4 hour voyage, then its wake up time in Dieppe,
Riding out of this
pocket sized port town, there is a funny sense of deja-vu. Dieppe was the town
in my French text books where all the action of my Gallic counterparts was
based. I was kind of expecting to see Doris Dubois and her friend Caroline wave
me off, as I felt I had spent some significant years of my life with them. But
no, they must have run off with another language student in another country as
there was no trace of them on the road out of town. I did however have a burning
orange orb of a sun poking its head above the purpled sheets of morning, so I
took that as a good omen and opened up the throttle.
Have had the news
that my buddy Pierpaolo has been drenched in the South of France for the last
650kms of his trip, so I am continually reading the sky ahead and hoping that
none of it comes my way.
peripherique of Paris without causing a national uprising. Only issue is at
lunch trying to find an ice cream. Spy a shop with “GLACERIE” splashed in
large artistic font all over the front, so assume I am on a winner. Owner looks
at me dumbfounded when I ask for 2 boules, as I am apparently the only man in
Christendom who does not know May 15th heralds the official start of
ice cream season and naturally he has no stock until this fabled date. Bollocks!
Those who know me know that in my mind, its always ice cream season! But I bite
my tongue and walk away with the comforting thought that Lance Armstrong beat
them 7 times on their own turf.
Dark clouds start to
gather overhead in the early evening so I pull off the road a bot earlier than
intended. A good nights kip and an early start and Ill be in Spain tomorrow with
my mate Pierpaolo.
KM START = 11,139
(Trip = 769 )
Issoire > Bezieres > Girona > Platja d’Aro
Not the best start to
the day! Start up the bike and the immobiliser goes berserk…muct have been
those nasty Lance Armstrong thoughts I had yesterday, so promise to keep smug
self amusements to a minimum. Indicators flashing unstoppably like a bad teenage
disco, so head off to the local bike shop in search of a remedy.
As always, the expert
prod and pokes it for 2 seconds and its all resolved. Lovely! Now how did he do
Nothing much else for
the day – chased by clouds that take on the shape of casino security personnel
in my imagination, so its double time to the Spanish border on the N9. Cross
over the border and was naively expecting fiesta, sangria, sunshine and tapas,
but the lingering impression is the rancid smell of chicken shit from the farms
and the hopeful waves of the hookers by the highway. Weird.
Meetup with Pierpaolo
in Platja d’Aro near Girona, trade our war stories of the things we went
through to get here (he wins! His recollections of camping in the south of
France in a monsoon and driving through a 650km carwash have it all over my
tale). Then meetup with his mate Jacopo for a beer, some tapas and a meal out.
Great start to the trip together.
KM START = 11,723
(Trip = 1,353)
Platja d’Aro > Barcelona > Tarragona > Platja de Miami >
Late start of 12 AM,
jump on the expressway to avoid the traffic of Barcelona and then its wonderful
National Highway all the way down the coast. Chewing up the kilometres in lovely
sunny weather – this now feels like a proper road trip.
Pierpaolo rings a
workmate of ours Federico, he meets us on the outskirts of Valencia. Takes us to
his wonderful house where we meet his wife Estrella and their 2 wonderful kids
– Federico and Estrella! Well it makes things easy for everyone.
We have the luxury of
being given our own room for the night with minimal protest from Ico (Federico
Jnr), then a few beers in the garden and a trip downtown. The Americas Cup area
is our destination and the amazing Calatrava architecture, great food and
hospitality of the company are unmatched.
Open Air Nightclubs where drinks are served in aquarium sized glasses and poured long and strong, with stunning Latino women set decoratively around us as props…Valencia is a great city and even by 5AM bedtime we have not quite yet had enough.