Tuesday, 9 November 2010
September 20th - Leaving Africa - Crossing Spain
We were up early, as we had a long day ahead of us. The ferry was at 2pm, and when we got back to the continent, our plan was to make a break from Algeciras, and put as many miles as possible behind us, as I wanted to get to Oradour Sur Glane in France, which was quite a way off the route to St Malo, but it was a place I'd been promising to get to for over a year now, and with a little over 2000 miles left to ride, exploring Spain could wait for another time.
It had been raining during the night, and the roads out of Chefchaouen were wet, and not only that, the surfaces were as smooth as polished concrete, the result of heavy use. Coming down the mountain passes on the way to Tetouan, The Grand Wazoo was weaving across the roads as if there was ice about, it affected all of us, so we dropped our speed and took it easy all the way to the port, but the constant drizzle, and poor roads took their toll, and Darren's GSA hit the tar on a roundabout in Fnideq, sending him skating at least 25 foot down the road on his backside, and the black residue he was now plastered with, stood testament to the oil and mess on the roads.
Myself and Jason turned round, to help Darren, who was shouting at the driver he'd swerved to avoid, and was now drawing a crowd. A policeman asked me if everything was Ca Va, I relied Ca Va Bien, and helped the GSA back onto its wheels.
The bike was fine, but Darren had sprained his wrist, we set off with me bringing up the rear just behind the dirty Darren.
The border crossing was easy, one window to fill out a form, and another office to get it stamped, and we were back on Spanish soil, 20 minutes tops for all four of us.
We arrived at the ferry terminal with an hour to spare, parked the bikes in front of the kiosk, and walked to the garage nearby to stock up on sweets, chocolates and crisps... all healthy food.
We touched down in Spain, and were off the ferry by 3pm, and were keen to make headway through the country, so we could spend a day longer in France, we set off with Shad and Jason riding point, and myself and Darren bringing up the rearguard.
Shad and Jason peeled off onto the N340 towards Cadiz, missing the Sevilla off ramp, I couldn't be bothered to chase them down, so took the A381 followed by Darren, and opened the throttle.
We rode hard, and made Sevilla before Shad, minus Jason caught up with us, we continued on to just outside Fuente de Cantos, and stopped at a fuel station that had just closed to wait for Jason. Not able to reach him on the phone, I sent him a message letting him know where we were, and decided to hole up there for an hour, cook dinner on the forecourt, and plan where we go from here.
Time check: 8pm
While cooking, we decide to break rule 24 again, the "don't ride at night" one, and make a joint decision to try and make it through to the border.... A tall order indeed, especially since we'd been on the go since 6am this morning already.
It's now 9pm, we're about to set off again, when Jason calls, he's a long way behind, just leaving Sevilla. He's crashed into two cars in town center, luckily he's not hurt, trying to filter, and forgetting his panniers, he's clipped one car, and bounced into a second, damaging the door as the bike's gone down, however, the owner seems more concerned about Jason, and ignores the damage, helping Jason up, and showing him an easy route out of Sevilla.
There's no chance he's going to make it up to us for at least 45 minutes, so we agree to ride on, and stop every 2 hours, for a break, hoping he'll meet up with us before we hit Merida, as of yet, he's not aware of our plan to ride through the night.
The motorways were deserted, and aside from getting chilly, the weather was good, but obviously by now, dark. At 120 kph I hit what Shad reckoned was the base of a traffic cone, and at that speed, it felt like I'd hit a curb. Coming up fast behind me, Shad hit it as well, which lifted both his wheels off the road. We stopped to check for tyre damage, and for any messages from our missing 4th member.
All bikes ok, but needing fuel, we leave the motorway at the N432, and find a closed station, and a text from Jason. I call him up, and let him know where we are, and that we'll wait, however, he misses us, and ends up ahead somewhere, we agree to push on, and try and join up in Merida.
It turns into a farce, we keep missing each other for the next few miles, and eventually, we meet up at an open fuel station at Mirandilla, where purely by chance, we come across our missing rider, who's had a mini experience here, but I'll let him explain.
"I must have overtaken the guys on way to Merida. Stopped at a petrol station, freezing cold. I could see the highway from where I was parked so thought you guys might pass by and maybe pull in by chance. While I'm waiting this car pulls round to where I am, opens up the window and starts talking Spanish. I can't understand a word he is saying. It looks, or sounds like he saying I can sit in the car as its cold so I thought yeah why not I'm bloody freezing! Anyway he then says a few words in English....something about do I have a girlfriend or boyfriend....OMG the penny has dropped. I'm in a car with 'Guido the Killer Pimp' (quote Risky Business) Literally at that moment Darren's HIDs light up the sky like an angel coming to save me and it just so happened you had all decided to stop to refuel at the same station. I make a quick exit....phew!"
So, we refuel, and run the plan by Jason about driving through the night, stopping every couple of hours for a break, I can see he's not happy, but goes along with it.
Time check: 11pm
We set off again, and make as much headway as we can, stopping as agreed every couple of hours to have a hot drink, and for others to have a power nap.
Myself and Darren are getting by on strong coffee and Pro Plus caffeine pills, while Shad and Jason do the sensible thing, and get their heads down for a quick nap between rides.
The plan was to make it over the Pyrenees by daylight, but by 3:41 pm I had to concede, and admit that I'd run out of steam. I was dozing off while riding, and was dog tired. I think everyone was secretly glad that we decided to call time, in hindsight, it was a dangerous risk to have ridden for so long in the dark, and there was every chance someone could have gotten hurt, so we pull off the A62 around 20 miles short of Burgos, had we been better rested, I think we could have made the French border. As it was though, we pulled up in the parking area of a small industrial unit, unrolled the thermarests, and fell asleep next to the bikes