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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Disaster with Big Red

Next stop Porto and a winding road that Dan found on best biker roads.

Stopped for lunch and had some weird food again.

We meandered through this gorgeous valley along the river. 

Back to Spain

Then disaster struck. The 3rd week did not start out easy....we did some highway in the morning to get to Northern Spain and just outside of Leon stopped for a lunch break. Excellent roasted chicken.

And a pasta/potato/I don't know what, salad

I felt an alarming wobble as we exited the freeway and entered town. I mentioned it to Dan and he did a test ride. Unfortunately the food tasted like sawdust because of my worry. It was Sunday and we really were in the middle of nowhere. Before I could blink, Dan had the rear wheel off as I flagged down a BMW rider going by.

He gave us the address and phone of a BMW dealership that rents bikes and we found it about an hour later. It's Sunday so of course everything is closed....and ADV is not being very helpful either as no one answered either frantic post about needing help in Leon Spain.

We figured that it was the bearing.

So the 3 of us, sit here in another campsite outside of the city waiting for the BMW dealership to open tomorrow, hoping and praying they have the parts we need. It's going to be a restless night.

The next day it was struggle with the language and sit/stand/pace and wait. At first the parts guy said another bearing would take 2-3 days but this very good mechanic started to take micrometer readings of the bearing and found a substitute part. Finally, they replaced the bearing and we were optimistic that everything was ok and it wasn't even noon yet.

Went back to camp. Put the wheel back on. Well, I did, and crossed my fingers hoping it was fixed. Rode 10 feet and felt the wobble worst now, so it was back to BMW.

This time, the problem was loose spokes. 

Turns out, over half of them were cracked.

BMW of Leon Spain was amazing. I had half the motorcycle mechanics constantly working on the bike, for the whole day.

The nearest place for Funduro rear wheel spokes is Madrid and I was minutes away from renting a car and driving there to get them when the manager of the BMW shop said, "you know, I just might have a funduro rear wheel at home". Then they took their 2 hour lunch and we waited with dread at the McDonalds down the street for them to return with the wheel or not. 

One reason why I am reluctant to "upgrade" to a new bike (I have a Tiger XC 800 here in San Francisco) is getting parts in remote places might be easier with a bike that was made for nearly 20 years in Europe. Turns out, my gamble was right. He did have the wheel.

He then proceeded to take the spokes off, one by one and put them on my wheel. This guy has to be an expert to do this in the first place.

A happy ending to a tumultous 2 days in Leon Spain. Big Red fixed by this whole group in ONE day.

Now there is something that Dan had that merits special mention. Dunkin Donuts drip coffee! Every morning, he was nice enough to share this precious brew with me. 

We took off the next morning, so grateful to be on the road and came across this crazy Spaniard who shared special basque bread with us and excitidely explained our route coming up was prime motorcycling road. 

We stopped for lunch up in the mountains in this quaint town.

Then on to Bilbao Spain for the Guggenheim museum (from the outside)

What comes up next was camping hell. We took freeways (again) to get to Biarritz where I remembered a quaint surfer town and excellent regional food....only to find it a major summer vacation spot with 4 massive, overcrowded camp sites packed one on top of each other. It was miserable. It was loud and on top of that they were doing some strange weekly bingo competition. I did my best to get some food and get to sleep. Fortunately we were at the back of the site but far away from the bathrooms.

The next morning when I was walking back to camp to get ready to go....I came along a small boy of 5 playing a game of badminton with a girl and they stopped and watched me walk towards them. As I came near, I asked if he wanted me to play and smiled. He glared at me and said "No! I want you to get out of our way!" Wow. They sure train the snootiness early here. Time to go.

We then rode along Southern France towards Italy and stopped at a grocery store to get some food (I picked up a croque monsieur) and some small cans of Foie Gras. Still had not seen a farm along our route and didn't want to come back to California without a supply. 

Now keep in mind, every bump I hit, every tiny wobble I felt on Big Red had my stomach in knots. I was so scared the bike would break down again. But with each mile I felt less worried and started to enjoy myself again and just then we turned a corner and there it was, a small, regional foie gras farm!

Last stop today. Millau France for the highest bridge!

The camp sites here were a bit like we'd experienced in Biarritz and I eventually figured out the best way to get a quiet one. Look for a sign that says "quiet" and make sure the place doesn't have a pool.

Decided to take the boys for a fancy meal at the restaurant to thank them for being so supportive and understanding through our Leon ordeal and had probably the worst meal ever for about 80 euros. 

I decided to have duck. It was overcooked. The deep fried cheese under-cooked and the ambiance was excellent.

Our camp spot was next to a couple from Denmark and some hungry and friendly ducks.

That night, a thunderstorm came and let me tell you that I was amazed that my summer, hot weather REI tent survived. I was also grateful for my Ultralight Cot because the wind and rain was so violent that water was just about everywhere inside my tent but at least I was dry.

I laid there counting the distance for the lightening until finally....BAAM!, Right next to us. I actually squealed it frightened me so much. I fell asleep out of fear and exhaustion around 2am and woke up shortly after that dreaming that a snake had made its way into my tent and was curled up against my back and laying across my middle. As I groggily woke up, paralyzed with fear, I barely squeaked Dan's name hoping he would come to my rescue. I then realized that it was my arm that was asleep across my middle and not a snake.

This was the first day of rain of what didn't let up until my last couple of days, nearly 10 days of it in fact....

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