|07-15-2013, 02:09 AM||#1|
Joined: May 2013
Location: Bristol, UK
The Adventures of Lucky Mike
Well, first off let me offer up my appologies, for after promising you all tales of a great adventure i have yet to deliver anything. I could blame it on bike problems or, most of all, learning how to use this new Samsung phone - yes i still miss my laptop!
First a little background for you. Two months ago i recovered from a serious, undiagnosed ilness whilst in England. It almost killed me, so i decided that possibly the problem lay with a lack of adventure in my life - hence the idea of a European bike tour.
I make my living by writing books about my adventures and have recently completed a year-long escapade in East and Southern Africa, alone in the bush with only my truck and the wild animals for company. These are the stories of book one, Into Africa.
Book two is The Danger Zone, which covers a rather different childhood; time as a Navy Diver; skydiving and base jumping...not for the feint hearted!
Book three, All at Sea, is about my 35 years of sailing on the oceans of the world. Perhaps this journey will turn into book four? So, here goes...
I left Bristol, UK at the beginning of June for a short test run down to Cornwall to visit my friend Jarred, who was to accompany me for the first two weeks of my journey. My bike, a 2001 1150 GS was not running well. It seemed to be misfiring, but the problem was intermittent. Now i know little about bikes and it has been over thirty years since i last sat in a saddle - diesel engines, yes i know about those from spending the last thirty years at sea on sailing boats, and my trip into Africa. However, fortunately Jarred is a maestro with bikes. He found that the problem lay with the HT leads. Someone had possibly yanked them out by pulling on the lead and this had cracked the thick casing, allowing the current to occasionally spark across to the head! So with new leads fitted, we rode to Portsmouth to catch the overnight ferry to Spain.
Jarred is also a yacht captain and we both commented on how strange it was to be setting to sea without so much as a weather forecast...especially heading into the notorious Bay of Biscay...or without even a watch roster set up! So, with nothing to do for the next 24 hours, we made our way to the bar on the aft deck...
The passage was calm and on arriving in Santander, perhaps a little hungover, we made our way to a campsite for the night. Drive on the right, drive on the right i kept repeating to myself, but the first few miles were not without an occasional moment of forgetfulness, brought back to reality by the sound of Jarred' s hooter!
All my camping gear is new, so it took a while to figure how the tent goes up, but all went according to plan...if i ever have such a thing!
Well, the next morning we headed into the Pyreneese to play on the mountain roads and every hour that passed i felt more at home in the saddle. We wheeled and soared and swung high in the mountain silence for six days, until it was time to head back to the coast for a wedding of two of Jarred's friends. After three days of non-stop partying, and after sleeping in a hotel, with the realisation of just how easy it was to get used to the comfort of a bed, we hit the road again, bound for a semi-arid region in NW Spain. Our reason for going there was that Jarred had read an article in a bike magazine that showed a picture of a giant hand in the desert, so it seemed like a great place to visit...but alass, no hand to be found. It turned out that the photo was part of the next article, and the hand was actually in Chile!!!
One evening we arrived on the outskirts of a small village, when my engine suddenly cut out. On the side of the road was a large open-fronted building, a showroom under construction, so i freewheeled inside and we began to search for the cause of the problem. An hour later Jarred had his prognosis - the haul effect sensor had died. So, with nothing to be done until morning, we both climbed onto his bike and headed into the village, where we found what we soon called the best pub in the world. Steak was ordered by the kilo and the ice cold beer, of-set by the warmth of the hospitality.
That night we slept on a smooth concrete floor, with a roof over our heads, but the next morning were faced with the task of getting my bike, whose name is now Blikkie because in Afrikaanse, a South African language, a BMW is known as a Blik Met Wiele, a can with wheels! Well after an hour on the internet and phone, we had located the nearest dealership, but still had no way of getting the bike there. So, we decided to see if there was any local help around. After a short walk up the road, we found a lawnmower dealer and in our nonexistant Spanish, managed to convey the problem. With the sum of 100 euros agreed upon, Blikkie was wheeled up onto a trailer and taken to the dealer in Santander. Lady luck was with us that day, for they had the part in stock and three hours later we were on the road again, with my wallet somewhat lightened!
That night we camped in the hills above a large dam, amongst the ruined and derelect buildings that were constructed to make the huge amount of concrete needed for its construction. It was a beautiful place with stunning views over the valley below. Whilst setting up camp i noticed the spoor of what looked like a large dog, but thought no more of it. During the night, i was woken several times by the souns of birds shrieking, but whatever, this is Spain not Africa, so i rolled over and went back to sleep. In the morning i was quite surprised to see Jarred climb out of his tent, wearing his full leathers and helmet.
Didn't you hear it? He asked.
Hear what? I replied.
The wolf, he said with tired eyes. It walked right past my tent as the birds were going crazy. I couldn't think of anything else to do, so i put on my leathers and helmet...just in case!
Three days later Jarred had to return home, so i continued my journey south, bound for a possible destination of Morocco.
Central Portugal was hot and dry, but with beautiful roads and hardly another veheicle to be seen. On the southern coast i stopped for four days to see a couple of friends whom i have not seen since i lived in St. Maarten in the Caribbean, twenty years ago! Mars bar in Manta Rota will always hold great memories!
One morning i noticed on the weather report that the temperature in Marakesh was 45 degrees C, and there and then i decided to cancel all thoughts of Morocco! It would have to wait for another time; also i was a little aprehensive about Blikkie. Being stranded in civilised Europe was one thing, but to have a problem in the desert was quite another.
As it turned out my aprehension was quite justified, for 50k west of Sevillia, whilst driving on the freeway, i thought i had a puncture. A loud whach-whack sound from the rear end, so with a bit of a huff i pulled over. The problem was not the tyre at all, but rather the rear drive shaft seal had blown and the remaing oil flowed freely onto the baking asphalt. Shit, shit and shit, was my first thought!
So there i was, stuck on the side of the freeway with a broken bike and a vocabulary of about ten words of Spanish! The gps showed a fuel station three kilometres further on, so without any other options, i put Blikkie into first gear and ever so sowly began to make my way there. A few minutes later i was pulled over by the local police, who, after seeing why i was riding so slowly, proceeded to tell me what amazing bikes they are and how all of the Spanish force use them and they never have any problems - and with only 33,000 miles on the clock it was only just run in...i could have strangled him!
Anyhoy, i made it to the garage and managed to locate the nearest agent in Sevillia, and a tow truck to collect me. Pretty good i thought! However i was not quite so fortunate that time; it was a thursday afternoon and the part was not in stock, so the bike would not be ready till monday afternoon, so there was nothing else to do but enjoy the comfort of a hotel bed for four days!
On leaving Sevillia i headed for the coast and spent the night in Valencia, but the heat and humidity was too much, so i headed for the mountains of the eastern Pyreneese. For me, if i have to travel on a freeway, then i would rather be in a car. Turn on the A/C, crank up the sounds and watch the miles roll by, but in the mountains on a bike, every bend in the windy road is a thrill in itself!
From there, i made a dash across the lowlands of France, headed for the Alps. After eight hours in the saddle, i arrived in Gap with a sore arse and a weary body, one that was even too tired to eat, so i set up my tent in a local campsite and went to bed!
I chose Gap as a destination, as 15 years ago i spent a while there skydiving, (Book two - The Danger Zone) but unfortunately in the passing of time it has become almost unrecognisable, and to my eyes, not for the better - so i moved on the following morning. The day was one of quiet mountain roads, clumbing ever higher and higher until i topped the peak at 2700m.
Am now camped near the little village of Le Roser, near the Italian border, next to a fast flowing stream so the air is filled with the soothing sound of water...loving it!!!
So far, i have become hugely more competent in the saddle and am learning daily about living with less and less stuff. Blikkie is equipped with two small touring panniers, a large top box and a small tank bag. The top box is filled with my tent, sleeping bag, air matteress, a tiny tripod chair, inflatable pillow and a thin tarpaulian the size of the tent's groundsheet. It was a great idea, for some of the campsites have only sharp stones on which to pitch, so it preserves the groundsheet.
The left, and smaller of the two panniers is filled with my thermal liners, a spare t shirt, spare pair of socks, Kindle and running shoes. Then, in the other side i have a gas cooker, small pot, a litre of water, a few packets of pasta, a pair of shorts and a pair of flip flops - and that's it! Oh yes, and the tank bag has my gps, water, sunglasses, a charger for my phone and the inevitable odds and sods. Not much for a life on the road, but far less than i started with!
My son Orion, has asked me to send him some Swiss chocolate, so that has recently become my route planner - as good as any i have come across!
There is no internet here, so will try to get this off to you soon.
Love, peace and respect to you,
PS. My books, The Adventures of Lucky Mike, are available from Amazon worldwide and most e-book retailers - if you care for some more adventure reading!
Check out my other adventures on Amazon.
"The Adventures of Lucky Mike"
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