August 08, 2007 GMT
Shakedown Test

The first shakedown we embarked upon was to see our good friends in Almeria, Southern Spain. This will be easy we thought - just ride through France and Spain and we'll be there by tea-time!!

We ignored the sane advice from friends suggesting we ferry it to Bilbao and instead opted for the Normandie Express from Portsmouth to yes, you guessed it Normandy.

From there we took one 13 hour day in the saddle down to St Jean de Luz, just outside of Biarritz, and a welcome break in the highly recommended Hotel Campanile.

I have to admit that as a fair weather, occasional sports bike pillion I was dreading the familiar pain in every joint and numb crutch that usually occurs after the first 20 mins on a bike, however I was pleasantly suprised by no such side effects on our trust new beamer. France was a joy to ride through with clear road signs and friendly french people waving at us the whole day (at least I think they were waving...).

We woke up with excited anticipation for our next day through Spain, oh how different two days can be!

The first hour was fantastic with beautiful scenery akin to the Pyranees, with fast sweeping bends and tunnels through Mountains. We weren't sure when we crossed from France into Spain as there was no border point to cross. The washing hanging out on every balcony was a giveaway - we were definately now in Spain.

After a scenic tour through Bilbao town and the ensuing argument about who's navigational cock up that was, the autocom fell silent, that is until we hit Madrid.

We took a second scenic tour around Madrid, oh what fun, then missed our turn off for Murcia and continued to Valencia at 90mph for an hour until we ran out of petrol. Realising our cock up at this point and that we couldn't turn back, we headed on to Valencia (Darren's always wanted to go there anyway!), then followed the coast road to Alicante, then Murcia and finally Los Gallardos, Almeria.

Needless to say we didn't get there for tea time, we got there at 11.30pm (16 hours in the saddle) and our kind friends had tea and more importantly wine ready for us, after which we had a lively debate into the small hours on how 'you can't get lost in Madrid'.

After 4 days of relaxation, pampering, great food, great company and lots to drink, we headed back, again taking two days to get to Cherbourg. And yes we did get lost in Madrid on the way back!

Posted by Darren Homer at August 08, 2007 03:05 AM GMT

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