On the road again, for a slightly longer time this time!
After a lovely few days doing nothing but eating good food and drinking beer in Benidorm it was time to get off on the trip proper. The first few days were very weird. My head was all over the place on the first day. I didn’t even get on the road until lunch time, after nursing a hangover and going for a breakfast down in the bay it was a very weird morning packing all my things up, we were all a little emotional by that point.
Riding back up the coast toward France is a route I’ve done a few times now so there was nothing to do but let my mind wander and stress me out more and more, thinking about what lay ahead. I think subconsciously I also knew the next week wouldn’t be all that exciting since I’d done most of the places before, though I was looking forward to riding. A quick wild camp a little too close to the road lost me a little sleep, but not a bad spot.
I decided to spend a half day walking around Andorra on Day 13, half to see what I’d missed out on on a previous trip, and half to help clear my head a bit. It did work to some degree, the slower pace and easy evening helped me catch up with my thoughts again. Though I wouldn’t rush back to Andorra le Vella, it was all high end fashion and electronics, not my cup of tea, Andorra’s scenery is beautiful though.
Day 14 I was on my way to the Millau Viaduct. Climbing out of Andorra was amazing, I refuse to use Toll roads wherever I can so I used the high pass. 2400m up there was snow either side of the road and tarmac was lovely all the way up and down, an awesome start to the day. The Viaduct is something I’d wanted to see for a while after watching a few nerdy documentaries on it, the tallest bridge in the world must be worth seeing. It is, though only if you’re an engineering nerd, otherwise it’s just a very tall bridge. I set up camp next to an abandoned 10th century church complete with graveyard for full creep factor. Then just as I was setting up the tent at Dusk, a guy pulled down the path in a van, I was a little worried, but waved hi. When his wife and 1 year old got out the car and they started cooking dinner, I was less worried; in fact they were probably more worried about me, the tall weirdo camping alone next to the church.
By Day 15 I was getting into the swing of things again, not riding too long at once, finding better roads and routes to ride. I made it to Briancon fairly uneventfully but a long day riding. I stopped at an Airbnb which was creepier than the church. The host was out of the house when I arrived, expected back near midnight, the house was meant for around 15 people but I was alone, in a very old farmhouse conversion complete with basement living room with meathook, floorboards that creak even when you’re not on them and a creaky old farm door to the top floor. To top it all, the house was open when I arrived, so who knows what else was in there. Turns out nothing, and I slept great ready to leave in the morning.
I decided to rush myself a little now I was back into it and even splashed out on some toll roads to get passed Turin and get to Lake Como in time to see as much of it as possible and find somewhere to sleep. It worked and I’m so glad it did. I’ve wanted to see Lake Como for years, let alone get to ride around it on my bike. Though the Italian drivers did take something away from it. They were almost exclusively super aggressive. I had to adopt “London Biker” mode again, forcing my way into lanes and holding my lanes. To be fair, they were different from the aggressive Spanish drivers I’ve encountered a lot, which usually come tinged with a hint of ignorance: “I don’t care if there’s anyone in that lane, I’m moving” the Italian aggression was much more like a racer mentality “I know exactly where you are in your lane, and I can fit in there with 2 inches to spare so I will” not once was I nearly knocked off by any of them, but the aggression was there nonetheless. Guess I’m going to have to get used to it, that’s nothing compared to the likes of India.
After Como I was much more content with my route planning and riding, so I gave myself a day of riding in the Dolomites, something I’d read about more than once. I made it from Sondrio to Cortina d’Ampezzo and it was stunning all the way through. There was honestly not a dull moment, even on the outskirts of Trento looking for a supermarket (city outskirts are almost always dull). I nearly missed a few corners for staring down to valley or up at the mountains for too long. I cannot recommend Como and the Dolomites in your own transport enough.
These few days were all very odd. My head was still all over the place now I’m finally leaving on the trip proper to places I’ve never been too. Part of me just wants to rush through and get to the new bits, actually most of me wants to do that. But I know I just need to settle down, check the bike and the gear out, and get my head straight before I get to the scary new stuff, or it won’t go very well.