Thursday, 11 November 2010

September 21st - Spain, France, and spilled tea

5:30am, I wake freezing cold, to answer natures call. Despite being fully clothed, with neck warmer and balaclava on, I should have dug the sleeping bag out. As it it was, Shad had been the only sensible one amongst us to do it, I had been reluctant to get too comfortable, and was suffering for it.
Still dark, and with everyone else still asleep, I hit the thermarest again, and doze for another 90 minutes.

7am, and we pack up and hit the road, dawn is just starting to break when we make Burgos. Shad peels off the A62, Myself, Darren, and Jason miss the off ramp, but soon find a truck stop and cafe ahead, and decide to stop for breakfast and a coffee.
The three of us are tired, there's tension between Darren and Jason, and I feel like I'm stuck in the middle, which was the last place I'd wanted to be.
I think we'd done well to be this tolerant for so long, but with a hard ride behind us, and little sleep, something was bound to give.

Myself and Darren chucked whatever euros we had left over from our first ride through Spain together, and bought teas and toasted sandwiches, while Jason sat dejectedly at the table.
Getting back to the table, Jason was struggling out of his waterproofs, and accidentally kicked the table, upsetting the drinks, and covering Darren, and my toasted sandwich with tea... (the proverbial straw and camels back I guess)

Darren blew up and moved to another table, Jason remained silent, looking even more woeful, and I contemplated leaving the pair of them, and getting on with my trip.
Darren had felt that Jason had been falling behind, and felt held back, Jason had felt left behind, and that no one had waited for him.
I guess the last two weeks of living in each others pockets had taken their toll. I felt awkward stuck in the middle, as I had planned the route, and felt responsible for the others, so I went to fuel the bike, and have a smoke in the sunshine.

Darren joined me, followed by Jason, who let us know that he couldn't go on anymore, and was going to make a break for Santander. I was sad to see him go, as we'd become good friends, but was glad that there would be less friction.
We all had our faults I guess, and it is hard to get an idea of personality and riding style differences before you embark on a trip with several strangers.

Darren and myself leave for the Pyrenees, while Jason heads to Santander to repatriate himself, in his words his trip pans out thus....


"As for when we split....tired cold no sleep, in some serious need of me time. Santander is 100km west for some R & R or slog through France with the others.
Santander it is then. Pull up to some plush hotel, the nearest one to the port and walk in. I look Rough with a capital R. I guess I'm not their normal clientele. Anyway, check in, discard the beard and have the bath of my life. Spent the next couple of days acclimatising back to normality and walking the back streets in search of graffiti (a passion of mine) Santander did not disappoint! On day of return ( Thursday) I pull up to a cafe and literally ride the bike into the table. One espresso for me and one for the bike please. Before you know it I've drawn a crowd and am having my picture taken??? I guess people are drawn to those travelling especially on bikes. Its a nice feeling and puts a smile on my face. At the Ferry I meet Steve and Ewen...weird... We swap stories on the way back.
Get back to UK...its raining. Ride about half way back to London and stop at a remote petrol station. A couple pulls in. I recognise them...errr I just talked to them in a cafe in Santander...."

Somewhere near Pancorbo, I swing into a fuel station for a smoke break, and to grab a snack, no sooner had I dismounted, when Shad stops, he'd been sleeping on the grassy bank for the last hour, and says he wouldn't mind another if we were stopping. No excuse needed, we buy some snacks, and fall asleep for 90 minutes in the sun.

We made it through to St Sebastian, and over the Pyrenees into France, and St Jean-de-Luz, where we decided to stop for the rest of the day, and holed up in the Larrouleta campsite, just off the D810. A nice place, clean, spacious, good facilities, almost too good for us that had been used to rougher sites these past few weeks.
As we parked the bikes, and English couple drove onto the pitch in front of us in the biggest RV I have seen, not only did the sides mechanically widen, but the guy drove a huge Harley out of a small door on the side. Private plates and everything, talk about a home from home.

After pitching camp, and having a hot shower, Shad & Myself, suitably dressed in shorts, vests, and flip-flops, rode the bikes into town to buy dinner.

Bread, real butter, olives, salamis and beer, washed down with plenty of reminiscing, and idle banter. It was nice to have had a short day on the road, and now we were in a position to relax, and enjoy the remainder of the trip.

Tomorrow we would push on through Bordeaux, to Limoges, and Oradour-Sur-Glane.

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