Simon & Mike´s Current Location

View Simon's Current Location in a larger map

Thursday, 31 December 2009

France into Spain

We stayed in Montpellier for three nights. Mike and I were pretty jaded from the ¨thirteen miles of pain¨ so took a few days to chill at Mariana´s house, eating plenty of cheese and good French baguette to keep our strength up. Red wine was also an important part of our rehabilitation. After chilling on our first day in Montpellier we had a bit of maintenance to do on the bikes. I had to fix my puncture and decided to swap my standard inner tube for one of the heavy duty ones I was carrying. Mike continued to do battle with his unwilling side stand which couldn´t hold the weight of his fully loaded bike.

The tyre change went smoothly until I over tightened one of the four front axle clamp bolts. Snap! Shit. Broke it. Maybe ´the feel of my hand´ isn´t the best torque wrench substitute? Aah well there were still three intact bolts there and Mike and I made the decision to find a workshop to remove and replace the broken bolt as soon as we could. Mike in the meantime thought he had done a pretty good job with his side stand but alas it was still a bit too leany for his liking when the KTM was fully loaded.

So, fully rested we bid farewell to Mariana and her superb hospitality and hit the road again. Destination Spain. We aimed to get to Cadaques, a small town not far from the border, where we intended to get our camping wings. We followed the main highway down across the border and made pretty good time. There were some fairly strong and gusty side winds on the way down which made things feel a bit hairy. Mike was fine and reckoned he could have say at 70mph no worries. It was a bit of a different story for me as the weight on the back of my bike made the front tyre contact with the road and my steering pretty light. When a strong gust of wind hit, it threatened to blow the front of the Africa Twin into the side barrier. Trouser messing stuff. I radioed to Mike that I would be keeping my speed down and and we chugged along to Cadaques.

Upon arrival the camping ground we had earmarked was closed. With light fading we spyed and followed a little stony track through some olive trees which lead to a small clearing which seemed a perfect camping spot. We decided to only pitch one tent in case we had to decamp quickly. Luckily Mike had opted for a palatial 3 man tent so there was plenty of room for us both.

Christmas eve! I awoke to a dawn chorus. Not of birds chirping happily in trees but a cacophony of wind from Mike. No doubt a result of the chilli pesto pasta we had cooked and eaten the night before. I resolved, wherever possible, to sleep in my own tent from then on. After a few cups of billy tea we were off again. Our destination this day was to be the small beach resort of Santa Susanna on the Costa Brava. Again the days riding was punctuated by some gusty winds which continued to make me a bit uncomfortable and I resolved to address the issue at our next stop.

We arrived at the camp site in good time and set up our tents. A nice lady from a nearby motorhome promptly came over with a motherly cup of tea for each of us.

Chistmas Day. Mike and I had decided to do a secret santa. Not sure if secret santa works with two people? Anyway, we settled on a five euro limit and secretly bought each other a gift at a local supermercado. I spent my fiver wisely on a gift I knew Mike would love. A large chorizo sausage. You should have seen his face when he unwrapped it. One very happy camper.

Mike´s gift to me was a miniature of that classic game from our childhood, Operation. I was stoked. We agreed that we´d both did pretty well for Christmas pressies and immediately sampled the chorizo. Good stuff!

Christmas day was spent working on out bikes. For it´s Christmas present, I gave the AT´s air filter a clean and an oil. Then I set about tackling the problem of my light front end. Before leaving the UK, Mike had fashioned two tool tubes which attach to the front of his crash bars, one on each side. See the photo below.

The tube is strong plastic used for sewerage systems and each had a screw on lid at each end. With heavy stuff like tools and spares in the tubes Mike had no problems with the front of his bike being light. I had one too which until now had been strapped on the back of my bike. I figured that if I could find a spot on the front and secure it properly it should help sort the problem. After a bit of trial and error I managed to afix the tube under my bash plate and took the AT for a bit of a test ride. I noticed the difference immediately. Much much better. Result!

That evening we dined well. Ham and a Christmas ratatouille was cooked on the gas stove and washed down with a few beers, a bottle of €1.65 red wine and a bottle of JDs. The Christmas ratatouille contained onion, garlic, sweet potato, sweet red peppers, mushrooms and fresh orange juice. The perfect compliment to our rolled ham!

Some friendly neighbours, a retired couple from Romford, invited us over later in the evening for a Christmas tipple in their motor home and a jolly evening soon developed into quite a boozy one as our host forced us to have a go at putting a decent dent in his stockpile of brandy. Ooooh, that´s gonna hurt tomorrow. But hey, it´s Christmas...


  1. Your Christmas Dinner will hold memories for ever. Happy New Year to you both and may 2010 take you to all those sunsets that you seek.
    Dad and the Kiwi Connection.

  2. New..few

    Uncle P, Auntie E and the girls wish you both a very happy new year (oh and good luck)

  3. You need a sun tan Wilson!. Oh! and that Mike friend of yours is hot !!! ;o)