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Thread: Discombobulation 2017

  1. #33
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    Great write up Rob, just been on loop through France/Switzerland/Italy and back in France making my way north, planning on heading toward Alencon today, any recommendations for a decent bike friendly Hotel?

    Camping last couple of weeks, by week three could use a night indoors.

    Spain and a touch of Morocco are on my list so I'm likely to follow some of your trail next year


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  2. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by richmondrider View Post
    Great write up Rob, just been on loop through France/Switzerland/Italy and back in France making my way north, planning on heading toward Alencon today, any recommendations for a decent bike friendly Hotel?

    Camping last couple of weeks, by week three could use a night indoors.

    Spain and a touch of Morocco are on my list so I'm likely to follow some of your trail next year
    Hello.. and cheers for that! Nice- hope your trip has gone well

    I can't personally recommend anything near Alencon I'm afraid - apart from the bakery normally I'm heading for or coming from much farther south when I'm in that area. Brian has booked a place called Le Clos d'Hautville in Le Mans for our return, but for reasons to be disclosed I never made it. He might be along to tell what it's like..

    All the best, R

  3. #35
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    Off to the South..

    Last night I suggested an early start- with the weather now getting hotter, and so that’s agreed. At 7.30 we’re ready for the off, although trapped in the car park as we’ve made a schoolboy error, ignored one of the laminated signs and haven’t settled up for the parking.
    Fortunately someone is making their way out of the car park so the door opens and we trundle out. It wasn’t the money, more of the sodding about that would have been the annoyance. Anyways, we’re off into the clear air of the early morning.

    Heading south now, picking the road up into the mountains. It’s chilly in the shade- down to around eight degrees at one point. That soon passes and we’re climbing into the sunshine.
    Some excellent riding- for example on the erm, simply named 'LE-CV 192/21' which takes us over the peak of Los Portillinos.

    A navigation break and a glug of Fanta.



    Super riding is to be had as we cross into Eastern Portugal and then back into Spain once more, before finally hitting Portugal once more.

    An afternoon break with the temperature hitting a very toasty 38. A pretty view looking down to the Serra da Malcata nature reserve, and a very nice breeze up here..





    It’s been a 300 plus mile day but we arrive at our destination in Castelo Branco at around 4pm.. Outside the hotel we chat with an English chap who lives locally. He says ‘there are two types of temperatures around here – too hot, or too cold. I’ll settle for too hot at the moment.

    The hotel is up by the castle- the hotel Tryp Colina Do Castelo. It’s a genuine 4 star hotel and Brian has got a pretty favourable rate by our friends at booking.com. It features a commanding view over the landscape from our room which has a balcony, and a similarly splendid view from the bar.

    We wander down the narrow streets to the town.



    Stout refreshment is taken (again, proper hydration is essential, folks..)



    We didn’t get a recommendation for somewhere to eat so are doing some research on our phones, which goes erm, sort of well, but we settle upon the Chusrrasqueira de Se. The door is open and there are two chickens cooking on a huge, Olympic size indoor grill.
    We try and get a table for two, but are shoo’d away- the restaurant opens at 7.

    We go back to a bar and order white wine, carefully trying to get it across that we want white. The toothless old gent nods and smiles. ‘Deutsche!’ he pronounces, and promptly returns with two pints of Super Bock.

    Returning to the restaurant, we’ve again vexed the waitress staff. We get a sort of ‘Oh it’s these two again..’ vibe. However, once they’ve correctly analysed we speak English (toothless Barkeep- take note) we’re led to a table out in a courtyard, and presented with the Chef, who speaks good English, is very smiley and rather camp.

    Great food follows- tasty Peri peri chicken, olives, bread, salad, bits, bobs, wine, beer, desserts.





    If I recall correctly the total bill is 33 Euros..

    We ponder whether to trudge back uphill to the hotel by the castle, or take a taxi, but the right thing is done, and we complete the ascent to the soundtrack of wheezing and flip flops..



    Making new friends..



    Nearly at the summit at sunset..



    We decide to clamber up to castle, and as we do, we can hear drums..



    Band practice. Cool!



    Off for further investigation..



    We sit and listen as they play on into the darkness. Sorry, not a great picture.





    We wobble off to though the grounds back to the hotel.



    Tomorrow we’ll be making our own way to our destinations. Ballistic will be off to Faro to meet with his good lady, and I’ll be catching up a few pals down the coast for a week off, with us meeting back up on the way North.

    On the GPS front, I’ve ordered a very cheap Amazon motorcycle GPS which is coming in t £80. Courtesy of quick delivery, I’ll have one of the chaps I’m meeting bring it across to me when I get down to the Algarve.
    And of course, I’ve still got my good old map book

  4. #36
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  5. #37
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    wheezing and flip flops..

    Made I larff

  6. #38
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    Ride safe the pair of yas

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  7. #39
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    Ta chaps

  8. #40
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    And so to the Algarve

    I’m up early once again, for some reason listening to a Radiohead album at 5am. Another lovely sun up.



    Breakfast is taken with a great view.
    Things will differ today. As I’d mentioned, Brian will be meeting his good lady and they want to go for a spin on the bike, so I agree to swap over my two seats for Brian’s single one, and then swap back when we meet for the return push North.
    We’ll be making our own respective ways from here now, so I leave before Brian.
    It’s a pretty plain and simple run south now. Basically a run down via Nisa, Estremoz, Evora, Beja, Castro Verde and then to the Algarve coast, using mostly main drags - but not motorway, with a plan to be there by early afternoon

    There’s some good fun quick riding to be done in the first hour or so, but then things open out to run of the mill stuff. Which is fine, the sun is shining and it’s pleasant. The birds are singing, the hat is on the side of the head as it were, and on we go, sat in 6th and poodling my way along. The traffic, by Portugal standards, is positively cooperative, several folks going out of their way to let me pass.

    I stop for a coffee on the main IP2 road just on the way into Beja. Normally people are friendly. I say hello and ask for a coffee in Portuguese and am polite, but am met with a scowl from the unhappy young bint who can barely see over the counter. Undeterred, I say thank you politely, and mooch outside with my coffee.

    Bad sign? Odd.



    Well, it doesn’t seem a cool place to dwell, so back to the road and more of that 6th gear plodding, picking through the man drag traffic. Largely dull riding, but enjoyable.. here’s me, in the warm afternoon sunshine, on me hols, riding about.
    South of a place called Orique, the main road gets twisty and a bit more interesting with some to do’s- but- when going to change down for an overtake in some traffic I engage the clutch and there’s barely anything there. Eek! Oh dear! This isn’t good. Where did that come from?

    I pull into a laby on the road to take a moment and work out what’s what. I get a flashing from the instrument display, LAMPF.. and then everything goes blank. Nothing. Nada.
    Oh dear again…!

    I get a bit more life for a moment, and then a click click.. Ah.

    What to do now? Right then. First thing, I get the bike under a tree out of the sun – last check of the temperature showed it as 38 degrees. Deep breath, take a swig of water before working out what to do next. I pump the clutch for a bit and get some life back, so that’s encouraging. That’s one thing, but with things as they are.. we’re not going far.

    I do a bit of fairly straight forward fault finding but don’t have any luck getting power. Shite. It’s hot. I can feel the sun on my neck. After a bit more sodding about I call recovery. In itself that was a challenge because my phone had overheated in the tank bag and gave me a white screen. Glad I carry a spare, just in case.
    So that’s a bit of an ordeal, but eventually and after what seems an age of ‘muzak’ I’m through, and after providing some details a black country voice tells me my case will be assessed and I’ll be contacted within 90 minutes. Assessed? Jeez. S’pose it is Portugal. I sit on the crash barrier for a bit, send a few texts and then decide to do a bit more rooting around given things will be a while.



    After disconnecting the battery, rooting around for about twenty minutes checking connections again, on another attempt I get life! Ah.. the green glow of the big ‘N’ and the flashing of ‘Brake Failure’. Wow- ok. I fire the bike up- and bingo, we up and running. I carefully put the seat back, checking that’s not played with anything, and quickly put tools and bits and bobs back into their homes. As it’s so hot, I don’t dilly – perfect conditions for this thing to overheat – so opt to get on to the destination – about 45 minutes away – and then I’ll call the breakdown guys and cancel.

    With all of the mechanical sympathy I can muster, I tippy toe the bike the final hot kilometres to the destination down on the coast. The clutch is a bit weak but not too bad, so we’ll think about that one later. At the hotel, I get the bike in a good spot and lay it up for a bit.

    I call the recovery company, explain the situation and the call is cancelled. Ten minutes later, I get a call from someone from a Portugal number who can’t speak English (and none of my trump card schoolboy French which can work with the older generation in Portugal) registers. Anyway, it’s pretty clear that I’m on to the poor recovery driver.
    Blast.
    Feeling resourceful, I act. There’s a valet guy at the hotel. I ask him if he could help – if he could simply tell the driver that the call has been cancelled and he is no longer needed. ‘Of course’ says the valet guy, smiley, smiley guy. He’s on the phone with the guy for an age. ‘Not needed’ I tell him again.. After about 5 minutes the guy gets off the phone and says ‘It’s Ok, he’ll be here in about 45 minutes’ and smiley guy walks off. Oh dear, that worked well..

    So then I call the recovery again, explain again the circumstances, speak to another person, explain again until I reach someone who gets it and tells me it will be dealt with. Crumbs. That was easy..

    After having to switch apartments three times, and starting to get the distinct feeling the day had something against me, I finally get to kick back and relax, and can smile to myself about the experiences..

    Food for the feet. Ahhhh..



    Tonight it’ll be celebratory beers with my pals. We can think about our problems tomorrow. For now, fun and feet up!


  9. #41
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  10. #42
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    Sorry to hear about the bike, Rob. Hopefully it'll be sorted easily.

  11. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nutty GSER View Post
    Sorry to hear about the bike, Rob. Hopefully it'll be sorted easily.
    Hey mate. I'll be happy with 'Hopefully it'll be sorted'

    Hope the weather got better for ye

  12. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberto View Post
    Hey mate. I'll be happy with 'Hopefully it'll be sorted'

    Hope the weather got better for ye
    Yep, we ditched the Dolomites plan, and did the RDGA instead. Cracking weather most of the time, although yesterday was a bit moist, with some interesting moments on the gravelly, tar snake laden hairpins.

  13. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nutty GSER View Post
    Yep, we ditched the Dolomites plan, and did the RDGA instead. Cracking weather most of the time, although yesterday was a bit moist, with some interesting moments on the gravelly, tar snake laden hairpins.
    Nice
    Ride safe!

  14. #46
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    Sun, sea and, erm, watersports.

    By my usual food and drinking standards when let off the leash, I’ve actually been pretty restrained on this trip. (Honest!). Given it is night one for my pals, fresh from the airport, they’ve gone, what you might say, relatively ‘large’. We’ve partied on until the small hours and it’s been great fun. Some folks I only see once a year, so it’s been just brilliant to be able to catch up.

    Fast forward a few hours and it’s the following morning. Pitch black. Early. The curtains are closed in my apartment, and I’m in a kind of fuzzy light dreaming mode. But I can hear a drip, drip, water dripping onto plastic- an sort of rain water overflowing on a plastic pipe sort of thing. It’s odd. I can’t place it in my foggy dreams. Eventually I come to, and look up in the darkness to see at the end of my bed one of our party in my apartment, erm, well how can I put this… pissing, yes, pissing over my pannier bags. Good grief.
    'Oi… WTF!!'.. at which point I appear to wake him up. He’s screaming, 'no, no, no.'.. absolutely mortified.. and along with being still pretty hammered looking back on it, it was actually quite comical.
    In the morning, I knock up my leaky chum and tell him- ‘Sort it out… You're in charge!' (or should that be 'urine charge..')

    Just bizarre. I really do think this is the only sort of thing that can happen to me.



    After a morning on the beach and finding a spot to watch the start of the First England v South Africa test, I return to my apartment. There’s evidence of laundry and cleaning products everywhere. All of my clothes have been sent off for cleaning, and my pannier bags have been cleaned and are drying to a whiff of ‘comfort’
    My map book however, that’s another thing altogether. That you see my friends, would have been the plasticy noise and sits undisturbed, remaining as it was at the scene of the crime. That, erm, I don’t think, is going to make it.
    Actually, which reminds me now, I’m going to give him a bloody bill for that.

    My travel mule has delivered me a new Amazon GPS, which I christen 'the Cheapie S' It’s got all of Europe pre-loaded, and has a lot of quite nifty functionality. For £84, and even just using it to mess around with, it actually looks quite cool.



    A few days later I set it up.



    And given the electrical problem, take the opportunity to get rid of some excess wiring no longer needed..



    I go for a test ride. The bike seems OK, and it seems OK too. Screen a little pale in direct light, but it’ll do for sure.



    Pondering what to do, I decide that It’ll be better to change plans for the way back. Given the clutch situation, although on the test ride out things are OK, I decide that I’ll be a bit conservative and go to Santander rather than all the way the 1500 or miles so to Caen on the way back. I book it up and take the hit, but this way it’ll be three short 200 mile days, which gives me a bit of contingency time, and I can nurse my horse back to blighty. I talk it through with Brian and he pops by to swap seats back.

    Otherwise we kick back, play a very dubious standard of cricket on the beach and have a generally good holiday time.



    I discover a Portuguese Cointreau like liqueur which I really get to quite like.




  15. #47
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    Try a "água ardente" if you like a fiery taste....

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  16. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joca View Post
    Try a "água ardente" if you like a fiery taste....
    It's gone in the book

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