Archive for October, 2013

Africa here we come!

DSC02820Tonight we are camped at La Casita about 20km from Algeciras and the ferry ! We had an interesting ride down through Ronda this morning, having spent the night at a rather pleasant hotel a few clicks north of the town. We opted for the hotel rather than camp as the weather had been awful for the last couple of hours of our ride and we were soaked. This morning the weather had improved although the clouds were hanging rather low.

DSC02819We stopped at Ronda for the obligatory photo shoot after which the the weather deteriorated once more so we spent the first hour or so riding through very heavy mist and cloud but as we slowly dropped altitude we came out into clearer skyie and by the time we had lost a few hundred feet of altitude we were running in nice dry air although there were still many damp spots on the road to keep our enthusiasm under control!

We’ve spent the rest of the day trying to find Peter a new bike but with no success. So we’ll have another look once we get to Morocco which I think will be more fruitful. We may even end up getting as chinese C90 look alike which I spotted earlier in the year and which looked to be somewhat tougher than the offerings we purchased last year. but only time will prove whether that is actually the case or not.

The plan is to get on the road fairly early in the morning, pick up our ferry tickets on the way to Algeciras and be in either Chefchaouen or Tetoan for tomorrow night.

And that was just day 1

DSC02780Day one was as incident packed to a degree I hope we don’t see for the rest of this trip. I was up at about 6.30am and with most of the packing done and dusted had a leisurely breakfast whilst being amazed that the forecast of bad weather had been completely wrong… Now there’s a surprise. Andy from AP Motorcycles in Carmarthen, past Scoots participant and very good friend, having rescued me by sorting my broken exhaust stud yesterday had said he would run me and the Scoot down to meet with the guys at Chieveley Services, a run of about 150 miles. In view of the forecast I had readily agreed as I though it would save me a soaking. However with clear skies and a mild temperature, 8am, the arranged collection time came and went with no sign of Andy! As always at the start of a trip I was already stressing about… well about everything really! At 10 past the hour I phoned Andy’s workshop and spoke to his father who told me Andy had left well over half and hour previous and should be with me any minute. I waited with rising blood pressure for another 10 minutes and decided I simply couldn’t afford to wait any longer. So bags were strapped to the bike, kit donned and off I set to refuel at my local garage hoping that I might meet Andy along the way… Lo and behold just as I approached the fuel stop along he came. He’d been caught behind just about every tractor in Carmarthenshire it seems. Swinging onto the forecourt, the Scoot was quickly loaded and strapped down on the back of his pickup truck and off we went to Chieveley to meet up with 5 riders heading down from up North.
We made good time through the A40 and M4 arriving at just after 11.30; we had arranged to meet at about 12, so time for a coffee and pasty before the others turned up. It was really nice to have Andy and Mike there to see us off as otherwise it would have been a bit of a solitary departure for me from Pumpsaint and I was really chuffed that Andy offered his services so willingly. I’m also hoping he will be on the next Scoots trip in 2015…
Once the others arrived it was clear that we already had something of a problem, with Peter’s bike using a lot of fuel and generally underperforming. Something which it seems had been the case ever since he left Edinburgh and something that should have been sorted weeks ago. Although to be fair to Peter the “fettling” of his bike had been done by a third party who assured him that all was well and ready to go! I guess the moral of the story is that if the “fettler” is of unknown provenance make sure you also check it yourself….

Coffees downed we set of for Portsmouth with Joe leading down the A34 which was very busy, then onto M3 and M27. As we approached Portsmouth Peter stopped on a slip road to refuel, not really a good idea and in view of how close we were to the ferry not really necessary either. However a litre of fuel tipped into the tank and off we went once more. Approaching the junction for the ferry terminal, I overtook the group and led them into a service station to top up our tanks so as to minimise time lost on disembarkation at Santander…. Peter’s bike never ran again. In spite of riding it into the station by the time he had come out from paying for the fuel, his engine had seized solid!!!

We managed to locate another engine only about a mile from the port, but with only 25 minutes left before we really had to board there was simply not enough time to remove the new engine from it’s frame and to remove Peter’s engine as an exchange unit… One would have just about been possible two, just a little too much of an ask. So the bike was abandoned to Chas, Jill’s other half, to take away on the trailer he had fortuitously brought along and Peter boarded the ship on the back of Joe’s bike… with the plan being to travel with Jon in the Pajaero until we could source another suitable machine, possibly in Madrid. Our evening on board passed pleasantly enough, being only slightly marred by an inferior and vastly overpriced meal in the A La Carte restaurant… Shan’t be doing that one again. A couple of beers and off for an early night.

Today, as always is passing rather slowly, the team has yet to meld properly which wont start to happen I think until we get to the camp site at Chefchaouen ,although the visa and bike search in Madrid may expedite it a little. Tonight, against mt better judgement, we head for a rather expensive hotel ( our one and only! ) known and chosen by the two Andy’s; so I just hope it’s a good one! It’s about 50 mile from Santander so should be a fairly easy ride assuming that nothing else bites us. With another 4 hours of purgatory on board the ship left I think I’ll lay my grumpy head down for a snooze……

And so it Begins

As Peter prepares to leave his home in Edinburgh tomorrow for the long run south to Portsmouth, the rest of us scurry around like demented things trying to desperately remember if we’ve forgotten anything !!! Thursday will then see Peter and Andrew, riding down to join up with Steve, Chris & Joe in Leicester, the five of whom will thy hopefully rendezvous with me at Chieively Services on the A34/M4 junction. The aim is then for us to meet with Andy, Jill and Jon at Portsmouth as they are coming from the south west area.
With departure of the ferry scheduled for 1700 hours and arrival in Spain at 17.30 on Saturday it promises to be an action packed start to the trip. Hopefully we can get a fairly quick exit from Santander to allow us to at least put in a few miles before the sun sets… Nothing booked for the first night ( or for the rest of the trip for that matter) as you can’t easily make up time on a C90, so it just depends on how the bikes are running. My plan (such as it is) is to try to clear the urban surroundings of Santander, possibly putting in around 50 miles before we look for a place in which to spend the night, be that a layby, a camp site or heaven forbid a reasonably priced hotel…. Whatever we find I’m sure the fact that we are at last up and running on our 4 week adventure trip will still bring a grin to most if not all the teams faces,
We have a small (9 people) team this years due to a few unfortunate withdrawals; 3 due to business commitments and a further 2 due to motorcycle accidents. So what could have been a team to equal last years fantastic trip, at least in numbers, is in fact something a little more modest. However I still have high hopes for the fundraising efforts of the team with father and son duo, Steve and Chris getting things off to a magnificent start. Only time will tell how the group will shape up, but they will have to go some to top last years lot, which on a personal level hit an all time high….. Watch this space!