When I go travelling with my bike it is to ride the roads, the nice roads. Everything else is of less importance. That is why I try to stay of the highway, chose smaller roads with nice scenery and a tolerable distance to cover. Sometimes, of course, I plan to ambitious and it seemed like to many days of the “Heading north” leg of the trip was a bit to long to be really comfortable, but I sure did see a lot of beautiful countryside.
Spain is a fantastic country in many ways. When covering some distance it is fascinating to see how the landscape changes. Around Madrid the land was yellow and gradually turned greener the further north I got. There are several nice mountain regions to ride in and I headed up to the Cebollera national park near Burgo. Here, there are plenty of twisty roads, most of them to twisty to really serve as a road for travelling but the biggest roads were perfect. I love to be in the mountains, se mountain views from above and below. But I don’t nececarily want to ride the smallest roads and I do not like hairpins. I know it is like swearing in church to say it, but still, it is the truth.
Riding north of Pamplona I soon entered France through the Pyrines, a bit west from the national park on road N-135. Riding on this hight feels cool and refreshing in the summer but I guess the riding season is short. It was foggy when I passed there and it was sure an exotic feeling but not great riding.
In France I managed to come a cross some really flat parts this time. Riding north from Mount-de-Marsan through the Gascone national park was a great disappointment, mainly because I had expected something else then flat, straight roads. Also this was when my problems with legs and feet started, so it is hard to tell what is what really. Later on, I did ride through fields that seemed endless and gave a fantastic view, and I did appreciate it. I rode in the French alp’s last year so I know that there is plenty of twisty bits as well, but this year I went a different route to see something new. I stayed in two fantastic places in France, which I had pre booked, Le Moulin de Saquet and Le Grand Chaume. Both these places where solitary B&B on the countryside with great nature to enjoy while taking my evening walk.
It was only my second time riding in France so it was still very exotic to me. All the views are new, none of the roads have been explored before. Add to that my non existent knowledge of the french language and that is enough to give me an adventure. After a few days in France I learned how to ask for a room, coffee and breakfast. With a stock of snickers bars in my tank bag and a few occasional visit to Mc Donalds I was doing fine. I did worry that I would need to see a doctor during the time when the problems with my legs and feet were at its worse, it would have been very tricky to explain what was going on, since I didn’t really know myself. Now it didn’t get worse than I could push on and see a doctor in Sweden. Unfortunately it did effect my possibilities to purely enjoy the roads I was riding, and that was of course a shame.
After France I accidentally passed a bit of Belgium, no smile there, just a big surprise as I crossed the border… this was followed by getting lost in Luxenburg but the smile reappeared when finally finding my way in to the lovely part of Germany called the Eifel mountains. This route was chosen because I was intrigued by the possibility to stay in a real biker hotel and, on top of that, the area around the Nurburgring is a well known destination for bikers.
I have been there several times in the past, to ride along the river Mosel, ride in the mountains and on the Nurburgring. I have always thought it was like coming to biker heaven, plenty of nice roads to ride all day and cold beer to drink at night. So while France is new territory Germany is an old favourite. This year though, my experience was a bit different. I was more aware of the speed other riders were travelling in, and the risks that they were taking. The road signs saying “Rasen ist out” gives a wink about it (the race is over). Some riders should definitely stay on the Nurburgring. Never the less this is a beautiful area of Germany and the smile was constant until I had to go further north. Getting up to Kiel is almost inevitable to use the autobahn, the small roads goes through village after village and it takes to long to actually get somewhere. These two days of riding between the Eifel mountains and Kiel I also had rather cold and rainy whether,. That in combination with being really exhausted somewhat dampened my spirit.
When people (generally non bikers) hear that I used 7 riding days getting from Alcobendas, Spain to Kiel, Germany, the comment is often, “so you took it nice and slow then”. Hell no, I said, I might be driving slow (if keeping speed limits is ever regarded slow) but I was pushing every day. When riding a bike I have to do all the driving myself, no one to swap with for a rest, I have to stop for drinks, snacks and rest… Add to that the exhaustion from being in the wind all day, and being cold when cold and the heat when hot… Actually, I don’t want to lecture, and probably most readers on my blog are bikers so you know what I’m talking about. I’m just tired of hearing that my grand effort was a lazy ride, but I guess it’s one of the things you learn from experience.
Visa Spain – Sweden på en större karta
Entering Sweden again surely put a big smile on my face. I was back on two wheels in my own country, it was 11 month since I left with my Ducati (I had brought it to Spain and done an import the previous summer) and it felt awesome to be back. Unfortunately, I was not able to ride all my old favourite roads due to the condition with my feet and legs. I had to rest and recover. I did take my bike in to the centre of Karlstad to pose with the statue of the “Sun of Karlstad” and riding the city streets made me smile of remembrance, since it was here I first started to ride Ducati in the year 2000, a Monster 600 Dark it was back then.
Generally I had hoped to be able to recall more of my riding memories while being in my home country but at least I was able to relive a few. When Anneli met up and we rode out I had the pleasure to guide her on Swedish roads for two days going on a very special road in the area of Dalsland and passing the aqueduct of Håverud. The road is so twisty that is passes the same railway track 3 times during a 10 km ride. Unfortunately, we did this ride in the rain but Anneli had a smile that went up to her ears when we took a break at the aqueduct so I was pleased.
Riding further south to the area of Skåne there was some new riding experiences for me as well, the coastal road from Simrishamn was very beautiful and with the smell of the sea it hardly felt like Sweden at all. I’m from a forestall area of Sweden with sweet water lakes so being close to the sea is exotic. Even living in Gothenburg didn’t give as much coastal experience at lest not for riding as I always preferred to ride inland towards the small lakes in the forest. Yes, in Sweden there is a lot of forest 🙂 and I love it.