Holiday Time...

Spain and France, Sept/Oct 2007

Plymouth to Santander out, Caen to Portsmouth back, main objective being to improve on my mate Geoff's experience the last time we tried this. Not a particularly high bar though - 'don't write off bike on first day' pretty much covered it. Plan was to concentrate on the high country: after a half day detour into the Picos meander east through the Pyrenees for a week, nip across the south of France to the Alps, then head north towards Grenoble and north-west towards Clermont, thus taking in a good selection of the best mountain roads in Spain and France.

And all went swimmingly: arrived in Santander 12:30pm on the Monday, turned right into the Picos, spun around when done and spent the rest of the week zig-zagging eastwards over the Pyrenees, picking routes according to the weather - it was generally better on the Spanish side. Two nights in Spain, the rest in France and only one snowstorm encountered. Spain was cheap as chips but french fries and hospitality were better, possibly because I can shout at them in their own language. By Friday we'd covered most of the Pyrenees, so on Saturday we headed to the Med, staying two nights in le Cap d'Agde. That gave us a day off the bikes, lolling on the coast, a good idea as petrol's hard to find in France on a Sunday.

On Monday we rolled eastwards along the coast through the Camarge to Castellane for the night, via the stench of Marseille and the glory of the Gorge de Verdun. Next day it's north and south on the Route Napoleon, one of the best biking roads ever, followed by a westwards hop via the ArdÍche to Volcano country (Crest, Ambert, Puy de Dome). And finally west to Melle for a weekend with Tony and a group of twelve other bikes for the last Flash Tour of 2007. Three days of demonstrating how fast the top box makes my Ducati and home by midnight on the Tuesday. 3638 miles in 16 days, both bikes performed well, but the trip took more of a toll on the Ducati than the Yamaha.

Both bikes got a tyre change in Andorra - 330 Euros a pair, expensive for a tax haven, or, indeed, anywhere. And the Ducati started clanking shortly afterwards, due I thought to a tight spot in the (new when I left the UK) chain. A week later oil started weeping from the top of the engine but she got me home OK. A couple of days after getting home I took her out for the first time and a mile down the road got a loud graunch, loss of drive and a large pool of oil. Gearbox mainshaft bearing had disintegrated, bike now at dealers awaiting serious attention. But she got me home OK!