The road taken

The day after the company offsite, I needed to go back to Zurich. I started at 8:30 in the morning and decided that I wanted to get at least past Barcelona into France, due to the political situation in Catalonien, I did not consider it a good idea to stay there overnight.

It was a beautiful day, sunny, around 25 degrees all day long, and I made good time. By 17:00, I was already 100km before Barcelona, by 20:00 behind the Border in France. So I covered already over 1200km, and I was still going strong.

So I decided to get one more pistop, drive the tank to empty and see how it goes. Had Dinner at 23:30 somewhere in France and decided, heck, it‘s another few hundredth kilometers to get home, it‘s not worth getting a hotel for.

So I continued on, and all was fine until I arrived around Geneve, Switzerland. The temperatures have dropped by now (around 2:30 in the morning) to 3C degrees, and boy, I did not plan for that. I was now wearing my under layer, a functional T Shirt, a light pullover, a wind stopper softshell jacket and my Klim Badlands Pro, but it was cold.

I did have warm hands and a warm behind, but the rest was cold… On the other hand, by 4:00 i got seriously tired, and nothing wakes me up better than 2C cold wind when you open the helmet and let that air strike you.

Arrived home at 5:00 in the morning, after 20 1/2 hours of riding and 2120 kilometers. Take that, IBA.

Was this a good idea? I don‘t know. I thought about it during the ride, and i think one reason I did this, is that, heck I am getting older. Lot‘s of things my younger self could do, I can not do as well anymore. But the one thing I can do much better is concentrate, get my strength back by digging deep into myself. I guess I had to prove to myself that there is at least one thing I can do better.

Gear critic: the Klim Badlands Pro is, imo, still the best or at least one of the best suites on the market. 2 degree to 34 degrees easily doable (just missed a better thermal underlayer).

The RT performed flawlessly. As expected.If there is one bike (that I know off), that I think capable of bringing myself to go that kind of distance without cursing all the way, it is this bike. On the contrary, beside the last 2 hours it was a joy to be on the move.

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4.10.2017 – Jerez

I was primarily looking for a destination, on my last day of riding in Spain. Jerez de la Frontera was the right distance, the right direction and the roads let again through the beautiful Parque Natural los Alcornocales.

The C-3331 did not disappoint, it was a windy road with lot‘s of great views. Only disadvantage though was the surface which varied a lot, so driving was a tad more careful than the day before. It was great fun though, and i can recommend using that road just for the views.

Arriving in Jerez, I parked close to the Alcazar de Jerez, a nice old castle that i wanted to visit. The only other thing i wanted to do is to buy some Brandy, but, sadly I found no store open that sold some.

Siesta time in Spain is something to get used to, pretty much everything shuts down after 2pm. So no Brandy for me.

I went back over the A381, which took only half the time, arriving early enough for a quick shower before the „business“ part of the trip started and my colleagues arrived.

3.10.2017 – Cordoba

I got up early, at around 6:30, got breakfast as soon as the hotel allowed, and was on the road shortly after 8:00.

It was another beautiful day, temperatures between 20C in the mornings and 32C in the afternoon in the City of Cordoba.

To get there, I decided to take the „autopista“ on the way to Cordoba. I wanted to maximize time, get there as fast as i can, spend as much time as i want, and then decide what way to take later on my way home.

Using the paid motorways cost me another 12 Euros, but on the other hand, I arrived in Cordoba on a paid parking lot opposing the old town center around 2:30h later. Changed out of my motorcycle gear, put it all in the panniers, and went to see the Cathedral of Cordoba, explore the old town, see the gardens and the outer walls.

There are tons of guides on the Internet for Cordoba, it is one of those places that everyone with an interest in European history, in Art, in Cathedrals, in any mix of that, should see once in his lifetime. It is fascinating place, where you can see statues of Arabic scholars a few meters away from one of the few synagogues that survived in Spain. Where you can visit the most beautiful cathedral i have ever seen, that used to be a mosque. Great place, go there if you get a chance.

I left around 4pm, it was hot and i walked enough for a day, so I took the scenic route over the A-369 and A-367, which took me a good 3:15h to get home again. Beautiful vistas, nice roads with good, grippy surface. And roadsigns reminding you to drive 40km/h an hour. I assumed that was the minimum required speed, and that felt fine.

The GPX file for this route can be found here

2.10.2017 – The mountains around Marbella

I spend the last 2 days riding a good 24 hours, 2200km. Now, I am finally here, the weather is beautiful, the hotel luxurious. So I do whatever sane person would do, I have breakfast, put my gear on, and head into the mountains, for a quick 3 hour ride.

The tour touches the Parque Natural los Alcornocales and then goes further north to the Parque de la Sierra de Grazelema. Beautiful vitas, nice, grippy tarmac, some of the best roads i have recently driven on.

The only downside is the speed limit. This tour, per Garmin, was supposed to last a good 4 hours. But, that was based on 40km/h or 50km/h speed limits all the way. Curiously, no Spanish person takes any heed to those recommendations, and i like to blend in with the locals while on vacation.

Not a lot of good photo opportunities, while the views were grant, the sun was too bright, the contrast to low, and the fun while riding to much to stop often and take pictures.

Got back to the Hotel around 2pm, and for the rest of the day I will stay on my private balcony, have some coffee and relax.

The road to Marbella

30.9.2017 Zurich to Sitges

I start later in the morning, as I love to have breakfast with my wife, and we got talking, and at the end it was 9:40 before I hit the road.

Originally I wanted to travel today to Martao, a town close west to Barcelona. That‘s a bit over 1000km, and I thought that will be enough for the day.

There are two things I realized, once again, what I love about those long motorcycle travels. Yes, it‘s purely highway, and not really that interesting to ride. But, 2 things always seem to happen when i do that. Some might never understand why I ride 2200km from Zurich to Marbella, for 2 days, instead of just taking a plane.

First, my thoughts finally have time to wonder. No phone, no email, no „can i have a second of your time“. Only me, the bike, the road. It is true: boredom is the most important ingredient to innovation, to relaxation. Only when you have nothing to do can your thoughts come alive in yourself.

So I ride, and my thoughts drift to issues long forgotten, to ideas barely remembered, to incidents not resolved. I like that. I can hold on to some of that and make it better once I am no longer riding.

The other thing is that you see the world changing around you. I started in the Zurich, passed through the rolling green hills of the Aargau, down to Geneva. I see the hills change to the harsher, brutal rock-faces of the French Alps, which in turn give way to hillsides in France. Later that green, French hillside gives way to the more brownish, dry southern French countryside. That then turns to Spain, the majestic mountains of the Ardennes, where after hours of rain, the clouds are now pierced by light, like the fingers of the creator reaching down through the dark clouds to create pockets of beaming glow at the mountain peaks. Nature can be so amazing, another thing you do not really realise when you just hop in a plane, hop out and your journey is done.

On the bike, you see the landscape change, the architecture change. You get disheartened by hours of rain, and feel jubilant when you finally see sunlight breaking the clouds. You can smell the churro‘s in the air, you can taste the whine, the olives. It‘s a journey with an experience, not just a „visit“.

At the end of the day I continue on for another 100km and end my day in Sitges. The hotel recommended to me is directly at the beach, next to a seafood restaurant that had probably the best calamaris of my life, a nice few glasses of white whine and a cognac to finish it off. A good day, and it does easily beat airline food.