Well, who’d have guess it? As I left the small town half way up the Pyranees on the French side and headed up to a giddy height before blasting down into Spain, a euphoria grabbed me.
The countryside around me was amazing… I’m not using that world lightly. It blew me away. The mountains around me crested in stunning outcrops that appeared to be held in place by magic, ignoring all laws concerning gravity.
Then as I crossed into Spain the roads started to really want to play, twists that played perfectly to the weight and balance of my bike, petrol stations placed exactly the right distance appart, and car drivers who appreciate that a biker on these roads doens’t want to get caught behind them.
But that was pretty much when the fun riding stopped. I try to avoid main roads and certainly toll roads, I enjoy hacking through the countryside, stopping in tiny little villages and enjoying a quick cup of coffee – in fact some of the best coffee I’ve ever had has been in little villages along routes in France I now can’t even recall.
Spain however changed everything. Northern France is borning, but it’s nothing compared with the first half of Spain. After the promise of the Pyrenees you expect a little more than an industrial waste land and sea side resorts that make Blackpool look upmarket. To top it off I failed to find a campsite that wasn’t a commercial mess, and a site that didn’t look down it’s nose at a biker turning up, sweaty and tired and just wanting a place to sleep.
In the end I had to camp at a place called Camping Joan. That’s about all it had to recommed it, they tried to charge me $16.99, the full price for a family with a car, when I politlly pointed out that the charge for a motorbike, as shown on their price list, was $7.99 the recpetionist became quite rude, and had it not been 8pm already I would have left.
The next day was bright and hot at 7:30am, I got away as quickly as I could. I’ve found that magic couple of hours in the morning before the sun finds its strength the best time to ride, I get more miles done in that first two hours than the next 6 combined.
The landscape started to improve, but not much and by midday I’d decided to ditch my riding through villages and hit the higway and toll roads. 500 miles later I pitched up at a roadside hotel ($25 bargin!) and had the worst night sleep so far this trip!