A lightweight fixed-gear bike tour of France and Spain

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We almost missed our bus from A Coruna to Santander. We spent about 9 hours on the bus, and arrived in Santander at about 4 AM. Our ferry would be leaving the following evening, and we knew it wasn’t worth it (or perhaps even possible) to find a hostel in which to spend the remainder of the night. After rebuilding our bikes (we were required to remove wheels, etc in order to take them on the bus) we set off into Santander to find a nice, quiet bench to sleep on. Any city is strange at 4 AM, but we were very surprised about the number of fishermen who were out at that time! We found some nice benches by the beach, and snatched a few hours’ sleep before the first joggers started showing up. Adie wanted a little bit of comfort, so he pulled out his sleeping bag and pad, and set those up on his bench. Rob was too lazy, so he climbed into the giant bag that we had put our bikes in for the bus journey. He described it as “surprisingly warm.”

We spent the rest of the day exploring Santander, and napping. Before boarding the ferry, we cooked a meal of lentils in tomato sauce, and as we were beginning to eat, a policeman came up to us, looking rather sheepish. He said, almost apologetically, that we were not allowed to be cooking there. we apologized, and kept eating. He hung around, not knowing what to do, and eventually just said “just make sure you clean up afterwards, please,” and walked away. The police are so different in France and Spain, compared to America! We boarded the ferry at 6pm, and found our cabin. The ferry was about the same size as the first one we took. Our cabin was on the 6th floor (of 10).

We took motion sickness medication as this route would cross the Bay of Biscay, which can be rough. It was a good thing as it turned out. When we woke up in the morning, the boat was pitching violently. The bow of the boat was slamming down into waves that were hitting the boat at the forward port quarter (45 degrees to the front-left of the boat). The swells were 20ft from crest to trough, and the spray from the bow reached as high as the top deck, ten stories up! On deck, the wind threatened to blow our hats off our heads, and these hats had no brims! It was by far the strongest wind we have ever experienced. The weather forecast posted at the reception desk said it was 25-35 knot winds, force 5-6, but Adie has sailed in a force 6, and this was much wilder than that. He reckons it must have been more like a force 8. Eventually, they closed off all exterior decks, for safety reasons. While walking down the corridors, because of the rhythmic rise and fall of the boat, you would feel first incredibly light on your feet, buoyant even, then as if your legs could hardly hold your weight!

Periodically, crashing sounds could be heard from below decks, and the sound of smashing plates and cutlery from the kitchen. Things slid off tables, and nobody could walk in a straight line. Throughout the morning, announcements would come over the loudspeakers saying things like, “would the owner of the vehicle with license plate xyz 4321 please see a staff member at the information desk.” The majority of the calls were actually for motorcycles, and we guessed that many of the crashing noises were motorbikes falling over.

We arrived in Plymouth at 4pm, after nearly 20 hours on the ferry, and were met by Adie’s family friends, the Lloyds. We spent one night at their place in Plymouth, then set off by bike to return to Adie’s house in Cornwall. It was 65 km North-West, unfortunately, straight into the teeth of a strong Northwesterly wind, the tail end of the weather system that had made our ferry journey so lively. Leaving plymouth was a nightmare, with several km on the large and very fast A38. We arrived home at about 4 pm, having spent two months (to the day) away from home.

Shortly after arriving, we both shaved, for the first time in two months. Rob even had to use scissors for a rough once-over in order to give the razor a fighting chance. We both felt immeasurably cleaner after shaving, but very young!


And After!


2 responses

  1. Della Clason Sperling

    Congratulations to you both. Well done!

    I did not know who the men were in the after picture until I read the text. I think they are probably sons or younger brothers of the men above with beards.

    Della >^. .^^. .^^. .^<

    May 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm

  2. Sam Hutch

    Yep Adie, no denying it, that beard is definitely ginger!

    July 3, 2011 at 7:15 am

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