Mick and Helen Ayriss made a trip to Northern Spain to enjoy the motorcycling, scenery, food, drink and company in brilliant weather. They invite you to join them.
1. Getting there
The summer of 2007 had been a total washout do you remember all that rain? And then my health stopped me riding after our trip to France in late May. We had followed the Voie De La Liberte from Cherbourg to Bastogne (Michelin map 105) and I have to say, once out of Normandy, it is a very bland journey. Perhaps if the sun had come out it would have been better. However it gave us the opportunity to ride the Voie Sacree from Bar Le Duc to Verdun and this was a different kettle of fish and well worth visiting. Look it up and see why.
These roads are both special in their own right but with poor weather until almost September we needed a sunny riding holiday and the MC Piston Colombres Rally offered us a final chance in early October, before winter arrived.Colombres is just 100 miles from the Portsmouth - Bilbao ferry in northern Spain on the Atlantic coast.
Monday 8th October found us with the dials on the Velo pointing straight down showing 65 MPH at almost 4000 RPM giving us the direction we needed, South. So that's what we did, catching the 21.15 ferry to Bilbao.
Stopping en route for a few hours at Helen's niece Paula's, in Southampton, made the journey stress free and relaxed, being only 45 minutes from the ferry. It was another of the reasons we chose Portsmouth rather than Plymouth as our exit port to Spain, but the main reason was the journey to Plymouth was just too far from Leicester on an old 1957 bike, and missing the ferry would mean the rally would be over when we got there.
Petrol was required at the Port in order to take away a worry on arrival and it had me wondering just how much BP's 102 Octane Ultimate Extra was when 95 Octane was 99.99 pence a litre, and would the Velo notice any difference? I looked up the price of this special brew and it was £2.44 per litre and is only sold at eight outlets country wide. I think I understand why!
The lane for bikes had quite a few going to the rally and we soon got speaking to Colin with his Triumph 110 and Sue on her Honda 250 G5 for info on the best route to take in Spain. Brian from Birmingham with his BMW R50 was in front us and an International Norton was behind us, this was going to be a rally for all comers.
Fairly late boarding had made the day longer than it needed to be, but once on board and with the cabin located we settled into a our two night "cruise" to Spain. On board it was as you would expect, that is, something a lot better than a cross channel ferry. The evening entertainment was almost as good as a cruise ship.
Tuesday at sea gave us a chance to unwind from the pressures of work and, after a presentation from the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme wild life officer Emma Webb, we watched for both dolphins and whales from deck 11. Luck was with us and over the next few hours we had several sightings of both animals making it all worth while especially when the dolphins ride the ships bow wave!
The Pride of Bilbao has several restaurants to choose from and we chose the self service which I have to say was terrible on the first night and only marginally better next day. With the Buffet Restaurant costing £17.00 each it would have been a better choice I am sure. However, we still had another night's entertainment to go through and the show tonight was "Grease" and again it was excellent.
- Mick Ayriss