Tour of Spain 2019
Having never ridden as far south as Andalucía previously this is one tour I was really looking forward to.
However, this was almost a tour that never was. About 3 weeks previous to our departure we heard that Brittany’s flagship ferry had suffered an engine room fire causing it to drop to only 3 engines which in turn meant it could no longer maintain its speed hence normal schedule. Consequently we were advised that sailing times had been put back and that we would now arrive in Santander at 1615hrs – making it very difficult for us to reach our first nights hotel some 180 miles down the road. We were also told that we would return to Plymouth not Portsmouth making it necessary for most to plan another overnight stay on the way home. To say the least we were not happy bunnies as this is not the first time Brittany has let us down.
Shortly after that, the Pont Aven developed a steering fault and went into Brest for repairs and all sailings were suspended until further notice. We waited in anticipation that the vessel would be repaired but it was not to be and the only way to get to our first hotel on time was to ride across France. Thankfully I was able to get the entire group on an overnight sailing to St. Malo on the Saturday night, giving us all Sunday to ride south of Bordeaux and complete our journey on the Monday and back on schedule. I know people don’t like motorways, but they get the job done and French ones are the best, also been a Sunday there was no lorries so we were soon at our destination enjoying a glass of wine in the garden.
We completed our journey on Monday and arrived amongst a throng of cyclists who were also using the hotel. Having parked up the bike it was a short walk to look around the medieval town and enjoy a beer in the square.
I won’t go over the tour day by day, check out the website gallery where you will find lots of pictures. I will say that I was amazed how the scenery changed every day. I never realised that Spain had such diverse scenery from parts reminding me of an Arizona landscape, to others which could have been the garden of Kent.
Been a fan of warm weather, the temperatures were much lower than one would expect at that time of year, but on reflection it was absolutely ideal for motorcycle touring and I am just glad we were not there a week later when temperatures broke all records for heat.
I have to say that my favourite place was around Ronda – there was one road on a ride-out through a cork plantation that John said had surpassed anything I had ever found before (and not in a good way) but the scenery and roads generally are fantastic and I will certainly return there.
The worst moment was getting past Sevilla, the southern bypass despite what the map/Garmin says is not complete and we went around in circles. Whilst parked up and looking at the alternatives we were approached by the police who asked us what we were doing – I pointed at the map as to where we wanted to go – he told us to follow him and led us through Seville to the correct exit – what a star, full marks to the Spanish police. Not so full marks for the ones entering the Picos who fined one of our group for not physically stopping at a halt sign and putting his foot down.
Actually we did notice a high police presence in certain areas, not that we were doing anything wrong, although I can say the speed limits on the open roads have been seriously reduced – however, the roads are so good and the traffic non-existent that for me Spain is still one of the top countries to visit.
Our tour finished with a few days in the Picos de Europa – always a favourite and the weather was kind. Sleep was a little in demand as there was festival on over the weekend, which started at 0030 am and finished at 0630 am – the Spanish certainly like to party.
I am pleased to say that the ferry was back up and waiting for us, although the later arrival into Plymouth landed us in the rush hour and a long ride home, which is not my favourite.
I think this was our longest tour in the terms of miles an nights. We were blessed with a great group of riders the majority whom had been with us before, and as usual this combination of scenery, roads, accommodation and people is what makes such a great tour. Definitely one to remember.