Wednesday 31 May 2023

Retirement trip - Day 7

 Went out on the bike on a rather overcast and grey morning, temperature was about 18C. My plan for the day was to ride along the coast and stop at tourist information offices to get details of holiday houses for rent for a friend and her family. The ride through the mountains was spectacular, even on a dull day, but there are very few places you can stop and take a photo.

My friend wanted me to look at towns near the ferry port of Santander, so I stopped in the first one of any size I could find, Cormillas. It was fairly small and had a beach, but not much else. Although it was signposted, I couldn't find the tourist office, so took a couple of photos and headed onwards.

Along the coast all I could find were very small villages and the next town of any size was San Vincente de la Barquera. It's tourist information office was open and they directed me to a nearby 'agency'. However, this was like a British estate agent and they sold or did long term rentals but not holiday lets. I tried two more agencies in the town but they were the same.

Carried on through nice countryside and improving weather until I got to the town of Llanes. This is a really nice town full of interesting buildings, busy streets of bars, cafés and shops, along with an attractive harbour full of leisure boats. I found the tourist information, housed in the wonderful Art Deco former fish market.

Unfortunately, I arrived there at 14:30 and it closed from 14:00 to 16:00. However, the sign outside said they could offer accommodation (sign was in a number of languages) so I decided to walk around town until it opened. During my walk I met an Australian Couple in a supermarket who had flown to France, hired a bike, and were touring Europe for 3 months.

Lots of interesting buildings around Llanes.

I headed back to Potes along a lot of route I had ridden this morning, so the route is a 'T' shape. The sun had come out and it was a very comfortable 25C. Managed to stop on the route to take some photos.

Approximate route I took.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Retirement trip - Day 6

 I decided on having a 'non riding' rest day today. Much as I like riding my bike I know the value of taking a break every so often to stop it becoming a chore. So today was spent wandering around Potes exploring the town, doing some washing, going to the supermarket etc.

My bike is parked next to where I'm staying in a cobbled lane. The cobbles make the bike sit at a jaunty angle, but it seems to be secure enough. About 50 metres along the lane is the office of the Guardia Civil, which is the 'big' police force in Spain, the Policia doing the regular day to day policing. This means that officers walk past my bike many times a day, lowering the chance of theft!

Entrance to the apartment block I'm staying in.

Various views around the town.

Monday 29 May 2023

Retirement trip - Day 5

 A day of contrasts! 

I left Biarritz on a fairly dull, overcast morning and headed west towards Spain. I crossed the border, but it's hard to tell as there are no country signs, just a sign saying the name of the 'county' you are entering. I crossed on a bridge over a river, but unless you knew it was the border, you wouldn't know.

Now in Spain and the architecture changes, you can tell you're not in France any more. Road along the coast and had the occasional trip into the hills. Passed through Bilbao which is a particularly attractive but very busy city, and I didn't really have a chance to stop and take photos. I passed the Guggenheim Museum and it is particularly impressive.

Photo I found on the Web. I went over the bridge in the background.

  Once out of Bilbao I was quickly into the hills and over a few passes.

Eventually I arrived at my destination, Potes in Cantabria, at the centre of the Picos de Europa mountains. I'll be staying here for four days so have rented an apartment so I can get my washing done, cook meals for myself etc. 

Hear a map of the approximate route.

And I talk about today in this video.


Sunday 28 May 2023

Retirement trip - Day 4

 I knew today was going to be a long trip so I planned on doing it on a Sunday as most places are closed and the roads quieter. With this in mind I travelled on back roads and followed some 'Tourist Routes' in an attempt to see the best of the country.

I set off on a bright, sunny morning and the temperature kept going up. By about noon it had reached 32C, the highest I've seen so far this trip. I stopped at a supermarket (they usually only open in the mornings on a Sunday), to get some food and drink, and also to see if I could get some screws to fit my saddle (see yesterday's post). As luck would have it they had a packet of 7 M6 x 25mm screws, plus nuts, for only 2.80 Euros. That's enough to fit 3.5 Bonneville saddles and you've got the nuts left over. Think how much that would cost you in a Triumph dealer!

Back on the road and it continued hot and sunny as I rode on almost deserted roads. That was until about 15:00 when it started getting a bit cloudy and the temperature dropped from 32C to about 18C in about 15 minutes. Very dark rain clouds appeared over head, and it wasn't long before some of the heaviest rain I've ever ridden in started suddenly! I stopped at the side of the road to put on my waterproofs under some trees, and the rain got even heavier. You can't really see it in this photo but water was running like a river down the road!

I got back on and continued to ride slowly as I could barely see the road in front of me. Luckily, I came up behind a queue of slow moving cars so at least I could follow the line of the road by watching their rear lights. I was the only bike I saw on the road during the rain, but there were lots sheltering under bridges.

The very heavy rain lasted about half an hour and it started to clear up a bit but there was still a lot of spray from the road. It eventually dried up and although it was still cool and overcast, I could ride again at 'normal' speeds. Well, for about half and hour when the heavy rain came back, this time accompanied by very heavy (and painful) hail!

About this time I was starting to run low on petrol so looked for a service station. The majority of service stations in France are open 24 hours a day, when they are unstaffed you can pay with your bank card like in the UK. I like how if you use a British bank card the display changes to English! I pulled into a service station and for the first time in at least 20 years, my card was declined! I rode on to the next service station but it didn't have a card reader. Things were getting a bit desperate as I was now on reserve, and on my way to find another service station the bike cut out as if it had run the tank empty. This of course happened during one of the heaviest downpours of rain! Eventually it restarted but didn't run smoothly and cut out and restarted another time. Eventually I found a closed supermarket and its card reader accepted my card! Once refilled, the bike ran perfectly. Theory: I usually never run the bike on reserve, filling up before it gets there. The reserve pipe at the bottom of the tank might be slightly blocked with rust and dirt, as well as droplets of water, and these were making it run badly. I'll clean out the tank and fuel tap when I get home.

The rain eventually cleared and the sun came out again, drying my clothing. It got a bit overcast again for the last half hour or so, but didn't look like it would rain. You can tell when you're far through France when you start to see signs mentioning places in Spain!

All in all, I rode for about 8 hours today. No idea of mileage, but it was fairly high (I refuelled 3 times). this map gives you an idea of where the cities I rode from and to are, but not the route.

My stop for the night was the famous seaside resort of Biarritz. From the 19th century until WW2 this was one of the most fashionable holiday resorts for the rich and famous (on a par with Monte Carlo - it even had a casino!), After WW2, it never really regained its status, but is still a popular resort with a lot of hotels, some with quite stunning architecture. 

When I got back to the hotel I replaced the screws in the bike's saddle, topped up my Scottoiler, and can report that my Superglue repair of my boot held up!

More tomorrow including a border crossing!