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Friday, 1 January 2010

The Costas

Boxing Day. Waaaaaay to hungover to ride, Mike and I nursed our sore heads at the campsite. The next day we were back on the road heading down the coast of Spain. We avoided the main highways (toll roads) and stuck to the slower but much more interesting 'B' roads. A good days riding saw us reach Barcelona with plenty of time to find a campsite. Unfortunately Mike's tomtom had some out of date maps and we were unable to find a campsite which had not been closed down. With bike security at the forefront of our minds (Barcelona is a bit of a den of bike thieves apparently) we opted for a hotel with secure parking. We totally blew our budget but attempted to make up for it the next morning by loading up on a load of food for our lunch from the buffet breakfast.

Our intention that day was to find a 'taller mechanico' (mechanical workshop) and get a few things sorted on the bikes. I needed the bolt I broke in Montpellier removed and replaced. Mike had finally had enough of fiddling with his side stand and wanted to get some welding done. Mike's clutch was also low on hydraulic fluid and needed bleeding and replacing. We found a KTM dealer in the middle of the city and in broken Spanish managed to convey to the mechanics what needed to be done.

They were a great bunch of blokes and had everything sorted for us within two hours. Unreal! We had fully expected to have to spend another night in Barcelona but found ourselves riding south that afternoon. I can't speak highly enough of the guys at the KTM shop in Barcelona. I think they were pretty intrigued by us, our loaded bikes and the journey we are on. They really made an effort to get us sorted and back on track. Excellent stuff.

The next three days saw us continue down the coast passing through some great landscapes and again sticking to the B roads. Some great winding stretches of tarmac through the hills a pleasure to ride on. The weather was warm and we stopped for lunch at the beach in Benidorm. Between bites of his enormous baguette, Mike commented, "such a beautiful place filled with so many unattractive people". He had a valid point.

We reached a small town called Elche on the day before new years eve. There we met a bit of a character, Al, a retired navy man from the UK. We were pitching our tents when he came over and insisted we come over and eat a stew which had apparently been on the go for 2 days. Al being an Arsenal fan he was keen for us to join him at the bar to watch the Gunners play Portsmouth. Being a Gooner myself we could hardly refuse and before you could say Rocky Rocastle he had us all kitted out in one of the eight Arsenal shirts he owned and off to the bar. A good feed, a few beers and 1 - 4 result to us. Get in.

New Years eve. Spent the day fiddling with the bikes. I had to refill and prime my scott oiler and also reposition the drop feeder which had been eaten by my rear sprocket. Mike gave his front brake callipers a bit of a clean. The KTM's headlights had stopped working the previous day and Mike suspected a blown fuse which he quickly identified. It would be three more fuses though before he could identify the problem. The KTMs vibration rubbing through and exposing some of the headlight wiring which caused a short. Pics of the problem and fix below.

Problem solved we retired to the bar for new years celebrations. We didn't over indulge too much though and were in good enough shape to ride the next day. We took a couple of days to make it to Malaga where we needed to order a couple of spare tyres more suited to the terrain we will encounter in Africa. We are only 80 miles from Algeciras where we will catch the ferry to Morocco. Excitement building.

A few stats to date....

Bikes Dropped
Mike's KTM: 3
Simon's Africa Twin: 4

Mike: 0
Simon: 1 (low speed in the snow / ice)

Bike Problems:
KTM: Side stand, headlight wiring, headlight fuse, headlight bulb, side stand, clutch fluid, exhaust bracket.

Africa Twin: Front tyre puncture, broken axle clamp bolt


  1. So exciting! Bravo for the "sandwiches+ boiled eggs robbery" (it's evident I've taught you well Wilson!)

  2. Nice to see that that you are enjoying all the recent festivities. I'm glad that you are still getting your daily intake of cheese, god forbid there was no cheese, I think you'd pass out! ;o) Can't wait to see photos of Morocco...

  3. Seems like you could have done with a bit of help from 'Map Man' - finding it all VERY intersting! Lynda & Keith xx