The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
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Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
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Today I'm in Souillac, after riding around through picturesque little villages and forested hills and valleys in what I guess is the Perigord and Dordogne.
I think I'm putting on weight despite long hours riding and or walking around up and down hills. The food is fabulous and cheap.
A recent highlight was last night at Eymoutiers where I stayed at Le Moullin de L'enfant, an old mill that has rooms and a retaurant run by a sweet old couple. The restaurant is actually built partway across the mill weir so it's like you sitting in the middle of the river. The food was really very good and 3 courses for 16e00. See pic.
I'd like to thank Laurent and Carol for thier wonderful hospitality and for showing me around some of the chateau of the Loire valley.
I'll probably make it to the Spanish border day after tommorrow. Till then,
The Gates of hell are in Durango
Rode to Bayonne. Hectic traffic. By the time I figured out where I was going I was in Spain. Even more hectic traffic and the signs made no sense and I didn't have a map, and the place looked like crap. I managed to head for the beach and found an OK place after much riding around in circles. Got some lunch, a raw hamburger and chips urgh!! , and a map. The signs still didn't make any sense, lots of x's and strange spellings that seemed to be pronounced somewhat differently than one would expect.
I followed the often stunning coast road. Much of it is built out on pilons or carved into cliffs. The buildings however are ugly. The occasional resonable one but most look like they were built by the Victorian Houseing Commission circa 1960. And lots of them. A real shock after beautiful spacious France. And the people are surly and if your lucky you get an unemotive Ola.
Gernika was on the way so I planned on stopping there. More few old buildings and a lot of giant toilet blocks. The places to stay were either expensive or not open till late. I got hassled by a beggar who thought I was on the De capostela ( or whatever) jaunt. And I didn't like the place so I headed off in search of somewhere to stay.
Several hours and one thunderstorm later I found myself on the outskirts of Bilbao. Lots of Heavy industry and junk and general decay . No sign of a hotel or anything. I couldn't ever find a McDonalds to get on the net to look. Before I knew it I was in the centre and there was the Guggenhiem. That and a couple of other buildings were of some interest, but of course it was closed and there was nowhere to park. So I parked on a footpath and got some photos. It took me ages and another storm to find my way back out.
I thought I would head for Pamplona, hoping that in a different area it would be better. There was a turn off at Durango, and being a sucker for an interesting place name, I past through the gates of hell. At Durango any pretence of style was abandoned on the housing blocks. The air was foul with the emissions of heavy industry. And the roads went round in circles. I eventually found the way out to what looked like a road through the hills. Me thinks pleasant scenery. There was some, but only as a teaser to contrast the hellish aspect of the place. Valley after valley that went on for hours, I would ride through a picturesque little place, turn a corner and come into the midst of a steelworks or huge electrical substation or other noisy smelly monstrosity, hemmed in by grim tennement blocks. Fantastical road works flew overhead tempting me back to Bibao or the other horrors I had left.
Darkness decended and still no refuge could be found. Another soaking in a storm and off up a winding mountain road to another hellish valley. By this time I'd been riding for a LONG time, kept going with chocolate and Red Bull. Someway up a particulaly steep and twisty bit of road that had quite a lot of traffic, I had to pull off for a rest.
The ground was slopping and uneven gravel, so I put the bike on the center stand. After a while I recovered enough to set off again. I had given up all hope of a room so I was just looking for somewhere I could roll out the sleeping bag. Of course I couldn't get it off the stand. I tried a number of times and after one particularly vigorous attempt it came off and promptly fell over. This is one heavy bike. So I unloaded everything, and still couldn't budge it. I remember the Long Way Round training on such things and dragged the bike around to use the slope to my advantage. Miracle. It worked. This is after quite a while of inefective trying to flag down a car to help. Scratched up the fairing a bit but there you go. It turned out that the hill ended just around the corner and it was a fairly gentle decent from there.
Several hours later, some time after midnight, after many more ups and downs, after another thunderstorm on a section of motorway with cars zipping past at high speed, I found the road to Pamplona, and a place to pull off. I could barely stand I was that tired. I layed out the tent as a ground sheet and layed down in my clothes.
I just started to drift off and it started to rain. So in the moonlight I had to erect a wet tent . It took a while. Finally sleep.
I hate Spain.
Spain, or at least this part of Spain is like something one would expect of Soviet Russia. Heavy industries and bleak workers paradise cities under the toxic plume. And situated in picturesque but now desecrated mountain valley's. I guess they did have a dictatorship for a long time, and this is the Basque region where there has been a lot of tension. Anyway I didn't like it at all
Fri 2nd god knows where on the Road to Pamplona
I didn't sleep to bad considering I was in my clothes, boots and all, and damp. I guess exhaustion does that too you. I packed up and headed off through the hills. The scenery was at times quite spectacular, though as usual the best places had nowhere to stop to get the shot. That was one thing the Scotts were much better at. After coming out of the mountains near Pamplona, it was a whole different Spain to look at. Rolling hills and the fields were gold with wheat or oats or something. However the towns and cities were no better and the place was untidy and run down. I somehow found my way through the centre of Pamplona to the road that runs up over the Pyrenees back to France. The scenery is very beautiful and the hills are steep and the road is hard going on the heavy old BMW.
I've now recouperated after a day off in Oloron Sainte Marie. But it's raining right now so who knows what will happen tomorrow.
Well, the bike trip is over. I rode on for a few more days, the highlight being the Tarn gorge area near Millau. Fabulous scenery and little mountain villages, though hard going on the narrow rough and twisty roads.
I had to face the fact though that I was stuffed, and the body wasn't handling it anymore, which was taking all the fun out of it.
I made the big push back to Bradford to return the bike, and now I'm in London for a couple of days before heading to Paris on the Eurostar for a couple of weeks.
I realy wanted to go home but the airline I flew with is booked solid, so I can't change my flight.
But I had a great time. Scotland was wonderful and the get together at Cannich was one of the best parts of the trip. And I loved France.
I've been riding the Ring of Kerry today. What a fabulous place. Found a nice little pub that was recomended to me by some buskers at one of the photo stops. The Blind Piper Inn at Caherdaniel. The real deal Little Irish pub....
Hey there! I'm brand new here
I'll be in Ireland in August, I'll check that pub out for sure :P
I'm still in love with the scottish cask ales, and I don't want to miss the irish counterpart.
Thanks for the advice!
Well guys, I'm still here, though without bike.
I'm in Florence after a week in Paris. Just doing the tourist thing.
It's fun, but I must be recovered as The last few days I keep looking at the bikes and having a little pang of regret.
Then I get a pain in my wrist(from lifting another ) and feel how hot it is and how it would be not that much fun in all the gear, and I get over it.
Throughly enjoyed following oyur travels. I am off across the Simpson to Perth next month, but when I get back I wouldnt mind catching up for a and picking your brains for tips for my own euro trip next year.
Now that I've been home for three weeks (man that went fast), I've had some time to think about how I went about the trip.
1st off, the bike was both a good choice and a bad choice. Good because of the great arrangement I had with the guy I bought it off, and the reliability of the bike(except for the clutch breaking). I didn't even have to put air in the tyres in 6000miles. And it did the miles easily.
Bad, because it was a bit heavy to manhandle at low speeds and parking, and was hard work on rough and winding roads.
Camping gear. Saved money on a couple of occasions and was needed for Cannich and TT, but a lot of weight to lug around. Next time, I'll spend the money and stick to hotels and B&B's, and save the weight. I'd also choose a lighter bike, something like a 650 V strom or even an SV 650 or something similar.
Riding gear. I'd leave the leather pants and racing boots at home and get something like Draggin jeans and some suitable boots that are OK for walking around in. Also I'd take a waterproof coverall, as my "waterproof" jacket wasn't.
I think my idea of doing it without a guide book or GPS was a mistake. There is just so much stuff packed into Europe, and with the inability to read alot of the signs, I guess I probably missed alot on the route I took, and a GPS would have been real handy in the large towns and cities. Mind you, I actually enjoy just riding through the landscape and discovering whatever turns up.
I really needed to slow down the pace. There was just so much to see and so little time. And going on my own meant that there was no one to slow that down for me. This was especially pronounced in France because of the language barrier. I found that I put in more hours on the bike because I was a bit lonely. This worked out to be counter productive as I had to cut the bike leg short because the body couldn't take it anymore.
Don't take all this as meaning I didn't have a great time. It was a blast. And having to deal with the weight has made my bike at home seem so light that it's now a lot more fun to ride.
I'm going to put some of these thoughts to the test in October when I ride down to Melbourne to go to the GP and visit my Mum.
I hope these observations help in the planning of others trips.
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