Home Stretch

Closing in

The way back to where the journey started seems to always be a bit of an epilog to an adventure novel. Nothing exciting happening any more, just retrospective and closure.

At our last tour we had faced endless long straight roads in France heading up to Calne. However staying over in Vanne was one of the best parts of our whole trip and the ride from Vanne to Calne had some very nice roads, pretty little villages and the best lunch of the trip. So there was still hope for some excitement.

Yet we didn’t expect any. The ride up to San Sebastian had been alright in places but the last two hours had been full of traffic. Maybe that’s what the rest of Northern Spain is so empty… They’re all up here.

We had booked another hotel in Gernika to break up a journey of over five hours from San Sebastián to Santander into two and three. We took the same coastal route to Deba and had lunch at the same little beach café. Rich still feeling crap after a night with little sleep battling what we now thought to be a stomach bug of some kind, picked up somewhere when we stayed in Salas.

A rare moment of no traffic

It was already hot, hot, hot with 26 degrees climbing up to over 30 again. The next hour was spent on smaller roads but still with lots of traffic, lorries, busses, cyclists and cars of course. Why was it so busy on even small roads up here?

Arrived in Gernika just after 3pm, checked in to the old school but nice hotel, had well earned showers and just chilled for a bit in the aircon of the room. When your jeans are sticking to your legs all day you’re glad for a bit of cool air and nothing covering your skin, haha.

Headed out to walk around town for a bit later on. I had some really good ice cream, then we had a couple of drinks outside a café. Really unexpectedly nice little place this Gernika.

Looking at food options we found a pizza place doing some proper handmade pizzas. Sounded good. Popped in just as they opened 19:30 and had some very very good food!!! Super nice owner as well. Score!

Proper Pizza at Kraken Kafe

61 miles.

One Last Hurrah

The next day was our last day of riding and we had options. If Rich was not feeling well at all we had the motorway and only 1.5hours. Feeling a bit better we had another N-road and if up for some last twisty fun there was a more inland route as well hoping for less traffic.

All three started off on the same stretch of road for the first hour to yet another petrol station just after Bilbao. There seem to be loads in Spain and for us they’re a very convenient place for a short break. Fuel up, get a cold drink and use the toilet if we need to.

That break was well needed though. We found the Spanish to be quite laid back drivers so far. Polite, calm, driving sensibly. Well, until we hit a stretch of motorway around Bilbao. Holy sh.t!!! That’s why we found the drivers being so nice. All the lunatics use the motorways. It was super busy and drivers darting in and out of lanes or across three lanes at once to take an exit after driving almost bumper to bumper at 70mph. Crikey!

And us navigating in this madness trying to guess what lane we needed to be in, what junction to take etc.

We finally took a junction only to be lead a bit through Bilbao… Wait that was not the plan. No city please! Luckily it was short lived and easy enough.

At the petrol station break we both agreed that motorway was not an option. No way! Rich felt well enough to do the twisty route and it was only 10 minutes longer than the N-road which was hugging the motorway.

Glad we did. Had a bit of traffic on our way to Ramales, but wow, what a scenery again, green hills, windy roads around them on good tarmac and towering grey granite mountains as a backdrop! Awesome! Quick coffee break in Ramales as the temperature climbed to 33-34 degrees. Oof.

More lush green on the way to Ramales

The last hour and a bit was 90% awesomeness as we hit the fantastic C-261 into and out of Arredondo. Even more stunning than Ramales with a green valley surrounded by high peaks the road gradually climbs out of. One of the best bits we’ve done the whole trip. The last 10% was just traffic and navigating through the outskirts of Santander, cursing every red light as that meant cooking in the hot sun with our motorcycling protective clothing.

Checked in to the ferry a good two hours early and there was hardly any queue so we were on the boat maybe half an hour later. Funny enough we ended up right in front of the same group of bikers we had met in the queue on the way out. What are the chances ey? Had a good chin wag whilst waiting.

Rather quiet night on the boat. Enjoyed the quizz and a really good tribute duo playing requests from the audience. The boat was moving a bit more as soon as we hit the Bay of Biscay properly which meant we both had trouble getting to sleep, our bodies too awake and alert.

96 very enjoyable miles

Back in Blighty

We both had not slept too well waking up loads as the boat was moving in the sea. Up, down, left, right… Every time it moved a bit more I felt a shot of adrenaline released in my stomach. Like when you nearly slip on the stairs. Can’t help it, it just happens. My concious brain finds this silly and just wants to sleep, my subconscious brain is on high alert. That’s why I can’t sleep much on airplanes either.

Got up at 8 for a chill and a tea, woke Rich an hour later to head for breakfast at the “posh” restaurant as a final holiday treat. To be honest, £9 for a choice of cooked breakfast is pretty good. Not that much more than you pay at the other restaurant but much better quality. My eggs Benedict were definitely pretty good.

Arrived in Plymouth 11am but it took another hour until we were finally off the boat including waiting in the infamous “sweat pit” for a good twenty minutes.

The sweat pit. Without the roaring sound of around 100 bikes when everyone is leaving.

The ride home was a bit unexpected in a couple of ways. It was as hot as back in Spain which made for an easy transition in a way. Never seen 30 degrees on the dash ever when on the Devon Expressway, haha.

Had to leave the motorway around Taunton to avoid the Friday madness and two accidents. Cross country is normally rather nice and we know most of the Somerset roads rather well, yet it was just traffic everywhere so we didn’t really enjoy it as much as we normally would. Tired, sweaty and slightly grumpy we got finally home half four in the afternoon all biked out. Done!

Little round up of the tour coming in the next couple of days.

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