This morning I waved to my new Italian friends and headed off north on road S 45. I savoured the feeling of riding in Italy, only regretting that I didn’t get around to come over when I had my Ducati. The morning was crisp and the view was stunning. Later during the day it got hot as hell though, so I was pleased with my choosen hotell, not only on the Lake Garda shore but also with an pasta resturant.
So today I had pizza for lunch and pasta and red wine for dinner, if I manage a gelato tomorrow before entering Austria my wishes will be fullfilled.
Writing this I’m on board the ferry and in front of me is a big plate of penne de pomodoro topped with a mountain of grated parmesan. It doesn’t taste like Italy, rather cheap trucker-in food, but it is a good start. Now begins a day of rest. That is the thing this year, the tour is divided naturally into 4 parts, the first riding to Barcelona, followed by a day’s rest on the ferry (hoping for calm sea) then riding to the WIMA rally, there I can rest from the bike all I need and take everyday as it comes. The return home will be broken up by a day’s rest at Le Grande Chaume. Hopefully this will ease off the stress on my body.
My first day of riding was between Madrid and Benicássim. It was a long ride to begin with and was made longer by me getting hopelessly lost in the beautiful mountain area. After a hundred kilometres mountain riding that didn’t actually take me anywhere I had to resort to plan B to actually get to my destination. This area though, deserves more riding, I could spend a week there, stunning nature, mountains, rivers, cute outback villages. Almost no traffic at all and perfect road surface. Despite the better riding position my body ached at the end of the day, after all we had done a shade over 550 kilometres.
Unfortunately, it rained when I got to the hotel and I gave both the pool and the beach a miss heading for a shower followed by walk and dinner. I always try to go for a walk in any place I stay, no matter how tired I am it is good to get some movement into the body after a day on the bike plus I do like to see a bit of the town I stay in.
Due to the kindness of the receptionist I got to put the bike in the backyard. After agreeing to do that and bringing the bike around I couldn’t dare to refuse when seeing it. It was a gravel entrance onto concrete with gravel and in addition to that bits of glass. Bringing the bike out the next day was an even bigger challenge since I had to turn it around and manoeuvre delicately since the entrance was partly blocked by parked cars. The Versys is a big bike when you are used to a Monster. I was also worried about the glass of course, not wanting to start off the journey with a flat tyre. But after examining both tyres I found that I only had rolled over a cat poo, no glass. Disgusting, but not as bad as a puncture.
On my second day I followed N340 up the coast. It was supposed to be a short ride and but that just never happens to me. It was no more than a shade over 250 kilometres but I did them over a very long time. Since I had chosen the smaller road parallel to the highway the road signs disappeared with intervals trying to send me off to the highway or passes through small towns. Those towns though, are part of the reason that I wanted to take that road, but also because I just don’t like highways. I was indeed surprised how many ugly towns there is along that stretch of coastline. And even more surprised of the number of ladies on duty waiting to be picked up by men.
Finally I got to the last stretch of road passing by all shades of green, vinyards, olive plantations, shrubberies, forests, fields, green to the fullest of my content. When I arrived in Barcelona it felt like a movie. I was riding along Avenida Diagonal which is lined with trees and on the road rolled dried up leaves which gave the whole scenery a romantic touch. The feeling was easily lost when I too soon found myself lost and circled for an hour before finally finding the hostel.
The evening ended well with dinner in the Cat Bar as I mentioned earlier and this morning I was better prepared finding my way to the ferry terminal. I did short cut a bit over plaqa de Catalunya when I missed the exit to la Rambla but that was all right. Failing to see the ferry entry, since there was an absent sign, made me follow a Kawasaki Versys with an Italian plate passing by. This made me make few new acquaintances while waiting for the boarding. I was over and over surprised when I heard my own excuses to one Italian after another that yes, this was my bike, but only for a month, I use to have Ducati Monsters for 12 years, and if I could afford it I would have a Multistrada. And I was even more surprised when they all replied that ”yes, nice, but this is a good bike”.
Of all the ferries I have travelled on with motorcycle this is the first that I haven’t had to tie my bike myself, or even been allowed to. It feels relieving and stressful at the same time. Well, I do not know how to tie this bike the best way, but on the other hand, do they?! Anyway so far the sea is calm. My 4 berth shared cabin is shared with no-one and I have even had a nap after that big portion of pasta. The resting is going good. And since I have brought a tin of Heinz baked beans for dinner I might as well go off spending money on the expensive internet connection so I get this blog post out.
Tomorrow, I ride again, heading to Lake Garda. Important to keep in mind at all times is that my new bike is a Fat Ass Lazy Cat. This implies no queue surfing with panniers and good margins when pulling out on roads.
This year’s Forza tour is divided in 4 parts and now I have already done the first and tomorrow morning I will get on the ferry and hopefully have a good rest and write about it.
Yesterday, I stayed in Benicassim, a pretty town on the coast. I wasn’t able to write anything because I had gotten the offer to store away my bike in the backyard of the hotel, and I forgot the laptop in the top case.
Today I’m in Barcelona and I spent the evening with a friend in my favourite bar, the Cat Bar.
Before I go to sleep, some sweet words about the topcase. Some say it is ugly, I don´t care, it is the best thing that has happened to my packing. It is almost as good as Twoflower’s pearwood luggage case in “The Colour of Magic” by Terry Prachett, except that it doesn’t follow me it follows the bike.