Sunday, 19 October 2014

Pyrenees: Day 15

Pyrenees: Day 15, 10th September 2013
Arriving in England

So this is finally my last post on the Pyrenees trip and I am afraid to say that there isn't too much to add... We arrived back in England early afternoon to which we said our goodbyes to Rob. As we rode north along the M23 we passed Rob at the side. I am still not sure why he needed to stop but  not long after we saw him shoot past us, making up good time. 

Keeping our petrol costs down, Emma and I plodded along the M23 and M25 back to her parents in Billericay. I was surprised with a birthday cake, washed my bike (which was super dirty from the trip) and we stayed there the night.

So that brings the trip to a close... sorry it has taken more than a year to get this whole thing written up! It was a long trip with lots to write about :). All the planning, routes and packing lists can be found in the preparation post. If you would like a copy of any of the routes for any trip or would like information on something in particular then please let me know and I will gladly write about it or leave a comment :).

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Pyrenees: Day 14

Pyrenees: Day 14, 9th September 2013
Camping Santander - Portsmouth

The original plan was to head from San Sebastian to Santander on this day. For the original route please look at this entry here:

Obviously being in Santander already made this a lot easier to manage. We were able to go and have lunch without rushing around and then head over to the port. We had a few issues finding the correct road to take us there and also there were road works so we were eventually re-directed another way.

We departed slightly later than the scheduled 3:15pm time. Most of this ferry trip we just sat around reading and making use of the wi-fi where possible. Rob spent a lot of time in the cinema watching films, but I think Emma and I were slightly low on funds by this point as food on the ferry was quite expensive.

As for the overnight sleep, I really struggled to sleep on the way back but was looking forward to coming home and sorting out other things. I am sure if I have missed anything Rob will gladly comment and fill me in again :).

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Pyrenees: Day 13

Pyrenees: Day 13, 8th September 2013
Camping Uhaitza, Mauleon- Soule - Santander (227 miles)

Today was all about getting to Santander rather than the via point at San-Sebastian. I do not know what route we took, but I set my sat nav up to go the fastest whilst avoiding tolls. As you can see in the google embedded map above, there are a few available options. The one highlighted at the moment includes tolls, but there are alternative routes.

Due to the limited amount of pictures I took for this day it is relatively difficult for me to figure out what we did! I believe that we stopped at a couple of petrol stops, one of which we bought and had lunch. The journey was pretty dull and there wasn't much to see until we ended up back along the northern coast of Spain. We stuck to motorways as much as we could, whilst avoiding any tolls.

We booked a hotel before arriving in Santander and locked our bikes up in a local lock-up. I can't remember the charge, but it was quite reasonable.

We visited a McDonalds nearby for wi-fi access (I think that might have been how we sorted out the hotel) and we had lunch at a local Chinese. Everybody was slightly more relaxed now that we had arrived at a last stop in Spain, all prepared for the ferry home the next day, which wasn't due to leave until 3:15pm.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Pyrenees: Day 12

Pyrenees: Day 12, 7th September 2013
Airotel Pyrenees - Camping Uhaitza (83 miles)

This was a very testing journey. Having already programmed the route into the sat nav with some challenging and scenic roads in mind, the weather was proving to add to this challenge.

Although wet weather generally isn't a problem, the visibility issues this can have when riding up and over mountains is quite severe. We were forced to ride at pretty low speeds for the majority of this ride and with cyclists still making their way around these mountains we had extra things to watch out for.

With everything that had gone wrong so far this trip, emotions were starting the get the better of us. Understandably Rob was frustrated with the planned route in these weather conditions and so we ended up separating and meeting at the campsite instead. Despite the issues the weather was having, the low clouds made for some great imposing views. As Emma and I continued following the route, we ended up getting slightly lost with some of the roads causing issues and the sat nav not knowing about them. After a bit of meandering we did however end up on the right path.

We arrived at the campsite before Rob and waited in the bar area. Once he arrived we set up our tent and then rode into the nearest town, Mauleon-Soule for lunch. Rob's tent had been leaking in the midi-Pyrenees and so he decided to book a hotel for the night. The room seemed pretty nice, a large room with en-suite and we were able to leave our stuff in there to dry.

Leaving Rob at the hotel we went back and took a walk around. We hadn't really planned much to do here, although there were some gorge's to visit if we had time but due to the weather and the time it took to get here we decided against it. Back at the campsite we ended up chatting to a guy who was going to a gig that night. He was very talkative, explaining his nationality and heritage and comparing with the locals. Unfortunately I can't remember the details, but at the time it was interesting (if not a bit tiring!).

Due to the weather and the state of Rob's tent, we altered our plans slightly so that we headed straight to Santander the following day rather than camping in San Sebastian. By this point I think we just wanted to get back to the port as quickly as we could ready for the ferry home.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Pyrenees: Day 11

Small road to Gavarnie
Now that the Scotland trip is finally written up its time to continue with the Pyrenees trip from 2013!

Pyrenees: Day 11, 6th September 2013
Airotel Pyrenees - Luz Ardiden (9.6 miles) - Gavarnie (20.6 miles) - Airotel Pyrenees (12.7 miles)
Looking back on some of these pictures I am reminded just how gorgeous some of the places we visited are. After travelling around Scotland this year (2014) its easy to forget the beauty in other parts of the world.

A couple of routes were suggested to us by members of the SV org. These are normally tackled by cyclists, but we took them on by motorbike. The total mileage was just over 40 miles but we were told that the views were meant to be stunning.

Our first route was a short 9 or so miles to Luz Ardiden, another location that falls on the Tour de France. These roads are loaded with hair pins and sheep and in today's instance also poor visibility. We were unable to see the great views from the top, but we had better luck on our next ride.

As Rob could handle the bends better than I, he took the lead to Gavarnie. With my bike occasionally slipping into neutral I wasn't too confident taking them any faster. The view was better  this time round and we could see the great surroundings. We headed back so that Rob could do his own thing at the campsite and Emma and I went back to do a short walk around the Gavarnie region.

We didn't have to go far when we spotted the waterfall. There weren't many hours of daylight left so our walk didn't progress much further. However, it is somewhere that we would like to revisit in the future and do the trek properly. I believe it takes around 5 - 7 hours in total and so we would require a whole day to do it!

Back at the campsite we made a friend. There was a cat very interested in our food... I think it belonged to the British couple renting one of the cabins on the campsite. With the weather getting worse it was important that we sorted ourselves out ready for the ride tomorrow to Mauleon-Soule on the fringes of the Pyrenees region. We were about to get pretty wet...

Friday, 10 October 2014

Scotland: Day 8

Scotland 2014: Day 8, 5th September 2014
Fort William - Houghton Regis (478 miles)
Petrol Stops: 4
Time: 10 hours approx. (with stops)

So here were are, writing up the final day of the trip! Today was all about getting home - almost 500 miles to travel in one day, all along motorways and direct from A - B (allowing for petrol stops of course).

The night before we were planning to leave I re-adjusted the route to include the cheapest possible petrol stops on the way home. There were 4 stops in total, mostly at ASDA petrol stations and away from motorways. Otherwise we spent all day on the main roads.

As you can see from the pictures it was not a dry start to the journey home. We left around 8 am and we ended up behind a lorry most of the way along the A82 towards Glasgow. Visibility was pretty poor too and the views were covered by mist. It took around 2 hours to travel the 100 miles to Glasgow and our first petrol stop. However, once we were here we had access to motorways and so the rest of the journey we were able to travel at decent speeds.

Our second petrol stop was near Carlisle as we planned our stops between 100 to 140 mile intervals. Once we crossed the border to England we were greeted with great weather! About 10 miles after this we stopped at the services for lunch, just off the M6. After munching down our BK meal we set off to our next petrol stop located near Knutsford with our last stop at Northampton, just 30 miles from home.

We got home around 6pm, which isn't bad considering we had 4 petrol stops and a lunch stop. Obviously it was a pretty boring run, but this meant we didn't have to pay for another night somewhere and gave us the weekend to get stuff done back at home. Time and money permitting you could mix the journey up with rides through the Lake District and the Peak District.