April 23, 2009 GMT
April 23rd Big Push to Fuengirola.

Over my beautiful steak the previous night Iíd contemplated what to do today. I want to revisit the stark yet addictive Almeria region Ė Europeís only true desert. I want to travel the roads of the Alpujarras Ė the tortuous roads that cling to the southern faces of the Sierra Nevada. Trouble is I also have a compulsion to just get the trip done. After five days in the saddle without a break Iím getting, well, tired.

I decide in the morning that Iím going to make a big push to my destination. Dave and Mandyís apartment in Fuengirola. Itís a 550 kilometre trip and to do it in a day thereís no alternative but to use the Autovia for most of it.

So once the chores are done and Iíve filled up in the local filling station Iím off. 200 yards up the road comes homicide attempt number 2. As with attempt number one Iím heading up a straight road minding my own business. This time the threat comes from in front. A car is stationary on the opposite verge, facing me. As I come up to it, the driver attempts to pull a U turn in front of me. This would be bad enough, but he gets it badly wrong and ends up sideways and stopped in my lane. As before the anchors are dropped and I have to use the wrong side of the road. Use of the horn doesnít ease the situation but I guess sometimes you just have to express yourself. The young driver gets going as Iím still braking and speeds off, turning off at the first junction to escape my waving fist. On reflection I wonder if he was even old enough to have a licence, perhaps he was just a local lad fooling around in his daddys car.

I guess if you have to have these incidents itís best to get them out of the way first thing in the day. As it turns out the rest of the day is incident free. I have an enjoyable cross country ride eventually picking up the Autovia somewhere near Murcia. From then on itís Autovia all the way.

On and on roll the miles. After a couple of hours itís somewhat depressing to see a sign saying ĎGranada 365kmí when you know your destination is a good way the other side of that fair city. Itís a hot day and I make no excuses about taking more stops than needed. In some of the more boring sections (I say boring, but only because Iíve travelled this route several times in the past) I find Iíve been going flat out for miles at a time, so I enjoy several stops for a bite to eat, a swig of water, to check the oil level, or simply to give the engine a bit of a rest.

Not so boring is the first sight of the Sierra Nevada, proud Mulhacen crowned in white

The hours roll by, the miles roll by, so does the fuel, the flies pile up on the screen. Bit by bit I approach Granada and finally towards late afternoon Iíve actually skirted past it. With this huge psychological milestone passed the fun returns to the days riding and before long Iím branching off from this trunk route to Seville and starting the long gently curving and downhill route, through the Malaga mountains and down to the sea. For some reason when Iíve contemplated this trip in the past Iíve seen myself winding down this particularly satisfying piece of road. I feel just as good as I thought I might, - a sense of achievement and the prospect of some serious beach bashing ahead.

Another hour on and despite inadvertently going through Torremolinos and Benalmadena rather than round them I arrive at my destination. I take a quick snap of the stationary bike and then disappear indoors to be plied with tea and toast and comfy chairs etc. 1631 miles, no mechanical maladies and hardly any oil used. Journeys end feels very good indeed.

It's only after a couple of days of going nowhere even near the old bike that I get back on her and take her right down to Fuengirola Port to annoint her with some salty water, confirm journeys end and gaze at the yachts over an all day breakfast at Happy's bar. For no good reason I decide this faithful R80ST is now to be referred to as "The Duchess"


Posted by Rob Hodder at April 23, 2009 11:35 PM GMT

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