The Road Home
“Ron you awake”
“It’s half ten”
“WHAT! Sh**, what times breakfast finish”
“9.00am so we’ve missed it and we won’t be setting off at 10.00am either”
Just then there was a knock at the door, I grabbed my trousers off the floor and hobbled over, forgetting to put them on.
“Olla................. er, oh!, er .......”
The maid legged it off down the corridor very red faced.
“Think we best get a move on Big Lad”
“No sweat, need a shower though”
Showered, dressed and packed in a matter of 15 minutes we headed down to the bar, as it was last night. Today in the full light of day it had turned into a glass fronted semi-circular cafe which looked like a different place altogether.
“Told you we could have come down these stairs last night”
“Or right smart arse, coffee and a Palma ham beget?”
“Sounds good to me”
We stood at the bar discussing the ride ahead, SS2000km in 24 hours. All we need is a start witness which as ever took a bit of doing, barman – no, lady all in white sat outside at side of the bikes – no, gift shop attendant – “a little” ............. ‘come on’ form signed, thank you Cristina.
“Yes think so, yes good to go”
So we walked over to the petrol station and bought a couple of bottles of water for our start receipts as we had filled up the previous night for the end receipts. Stowing the bottles between the Givi rack and my rear seat, as I had been doing for the last couple of days. Ron borrows my pen which I have velcrode to the bike frame (my best farkle so far, two sided stick Velcro, one on pen one on frame, job’s a gooden). Something he has been doing since Dover, writes the start mileage on the back and that’s us ready for the off.
Nope wrong, Ron sparks up a tab!!!
I wondered over to the other side of the car park to get a good photo shot of the mountains.
20 minutes later we start our engines, Hay Ho the joys LD of riding. My face gives my thoughts way, well it does where Ron’s concerned, everyone else just thinks I’m a stroppy git.
“What’s up with you man, we’ve got 24 hours”
I fancy Alacate for lunch but it turns out its not on our route we are due to hang a right 20km before we get anywhere near it towards Valencia. That’s where ‘fate’ kicked in and Ron did a fly buy on the junction, cheers Zumo 550 your a star. Lunch over looking Alacante was fantastic, temperature was 88 degrees F.
Topping up my tan on a deadline
We chatted about what had gone wrong yesterday with the SS2000 or BBG2500 and how we had lost so much time by just enjoying the ride. It’s at this point Ron points out I’m as much to blame. Being stripped off to the waist topping up my tan didn’t put me in a very good position to argue. Ron’s IBA Wrist Tan which he picked up over the last couple of days looks well.
IBA Touring Tan
We got back under way after a good half hour break ‘and a tab or two’ and headed to Tarragona along some more of Spain’s amazing dual carriage way motorways. This is when I almost became ‘a section of new barrier’
Just for a change I had taken the lead and was riding round a really nice smooth right hand bend positioned 2 foot to the left of the central broken line. Speed was 120kmh just shy of 80 mph which is the limit on the motorways. Overtaking a couple of slower cars, banked over thinking what a great angle when.....................
Whoooooooooooooosh, a black Golf GTi overtakes me on the outside missing me by all of a foot. The side draft pushed the bike deeper towards the road. The car on my right hit the brakes straight away but all I could do was wind on some more power to stop my right peg or pannier hitting the deck. The bike lifted unfortunately the ‘Red Mist’ didn’t.
I was behind the Golf, two girls in the back two young lads in the front, I pulled alongside, needless to say the 120km limit was the last thing on my mind. I glared at the two in the front (totally forgetting they could not see me for my black visor). The girls were jabbering but the driver was ‘Snow White’. He topped out so I just pulled ahead and back into the fast lane. I was ripping.
“Ray, leave it, you listening, leave it”
“I’ll ...................... him”
“Leave it, I can see he’s got the message he’s all over the place”
The voice of reason had spoken, I pulled over and backed off the power. Not a happy man I dropped back in behind Ron.
“Cheers Big Lad”
“Not a problem, you OK?”
“I will be”
We passed the Golf at our normal cruising speed of 115km just a few miles up the road. He will think twice about spooking someone with a UK registration plate in the future, well at least I hope so.
The only traffic of the whole trip was 70km short of Barcellona, filtering was a breeze but filling up was an absolute pain. So many cars and having to take your cash card into the filling station before they will switch on the pump if very time consuming.
As is waiting for Ron to finish his tab! But he know I enjoy the breaks too.
Heading due north to the French Boarder we just get into our rhythm and cracked out the miles, the sea on our right the mountains on our left, beautiful. It was then that I realised how comfortable the Air Hawk really was and what’s more I had not thought about it all day. The heat was still causing my inside legs to chafe at the very top, Ron suffered in much the same way. However, Ron decided to ‘aerate’ his parts at one fill up by wandering around his bike with his trousers down round his knees. No sorry I did not take a photo!
Riding through France during the night was very enjoyable as the roads were clear except for the odd 100 trucks or so. We made good time, tolls where a breeze, toll sign, back off left glove off, stop ticket out, wallet on top of ticket on tank, ticket to attendant, cash, stow wallet, glove on, pull over to left to wait or catch up, “All good” go.
There's a storm on the horizon
5 in the morning we filled up with fuel, had a coffee, one of us had a tab and as we were just about to remount and head out I hear Ron cursing!
“Can’t find my keys”
“What keys, you bike keys?”
“No my top box key, house key, Jo’s house key, the lot, gone”
My stomach turned, what were we going to do, go back and look for them, the last time Ron had seen them was at our evening meal stop just south of the French boarder.
“My passport and ticket are in the top box”
“I’m going to have to bust it open”
“Hold on let’s see if my key fits before you start breaking open a £300 Givi Topbox”
Ron tried prizing it open, no chance.
“Let me have a go”, so screwdriver in hand I........................................
Putting his passport and ticket in his pocket, texting Jo to drop him a key off at home we hit the road for the final leg of our trip. Top box relocked and with a bit of gaffer tape for good measure. (I’m pleased to say the box is in perfect working order and the spare key in Ron’s flat worked a treat on his return).
So the route north was Diezma, Alacante, Valencia, Tarragona, Versailles, Les Cheres, Chateuvilla, my favourite ‘Aire De Champ Roland’ and finally Calais Ferry Terminal.
Just as we thought everything was in the bag we arrived at Calais Ferry Terminal with 50 minutes to spare knowing we would have to pay to get on the next ferry at 1230 as we were booked on the 6.00pm one.
Typical, we missed the turning, then I turned up the wrong junction on the next roundabout, Ron carried on and after a quick scoot round town I joined him at the terminal, 43 minutes to spare.
The queue for the passport control was mad with about 80 bikers heading home after the Assen Race weekend, 38 minutes. We were starting to flap, we still had no end receipt. (top tip get one at the service station into Calais, especially when you have 220 km in the bag over 2000km).
A bit of queue jumping and were at the front ready to pay.
“Sorry this is the coach terminal and I have to sort the coaches out first”
“We are on a timed ride we NEED a receipt”
“Sorry park over there and I’ll be with you in a minute”
I looked back there were 3 bloody coaches! 32 minutes.
“Ron lets go to the ticket office”
“She said wait here”
“LOOK at all that lot!”
I went back and asked if it would be quicker to walk over and get a ticket from the office, “Yes” was the reply “but you need too take your bikes with you out of the terminal”
We turned round and rode the way had come in, flagged down by a very friendly officer who pointed us the other way and to a closed gate, 29 minutes.
The gate took forever to open, Ron dived round me and straight to the ticket office, parked up jumped off and started legging it round the building.
“S*** I’ve forgot something” and had to leg it back to his bike, 25minutes.
The office was empty, Ron to one vendor me to the other. Tick tock, tick tock
“HOW LONG to get a ticket”
“We’ve done it”
“Not till that tickets in my hand we’ve not”
“Cheers Big Lad always the optimist”
“Ye Ha, we’ve done it” we both shouted at each other as the receipt was handed over.
2241km in 23hours 38 minutes, Job Done!
There were so many people on the dock that the End Witness was not a problem at all, a big thank you to Mr Rowe from Cheshire for that.
The rest was just plain sailing, Full English and then we both just fell fast asleep were we sat only waking when they announced, “please re-join your vehicles”
This was just one corner, every corner was the same, full!
Our farewells were said at Maidstone services, Manley hugs exchanged and we both went our separate ways, well once we had ridden through the Dartford Tunnel together.