Gatos y perros (cats and dogs)

The predicted rain started about 20 minutes into my journey. Basically a straight line along motorways through Valladolid to Santander. Now with lashing rain.

With little to focus on, the rain, wind, cold, thoughts of work, tax bills and corrupt, disenguinous government all start to darken the mood. I can feel the black dog nipping at my heels. Been here many times. Hopefully temporary. Time to gently guide him back to the kennel.

The cross winds are buffeting. You have to relax otherwise the wind hitting your body transfers to the handle bars.

What am going to do in Santander? I see a sign for Burgos (I imagine it’s pronounced how a Glaswegian would say a plural of beef burger?).

The rain and wind continue. I get to Burgos and it is coming heavier. My fingers are numb (right hand in particular, the grip on throttle restricts the circulation – I wiggle my fingers). I am bursting for pee. Fuel on empty. A petrol station (repsol sponsor honda so it’s fitting) assists on 2 of the 3 issues. On to the ‘centro’

I eventually park up unload everything and lock it. It seems a lovely place. On the Camino route if memory serves.

I find a pizza place. Order a 4 cheese pizza and order a coffee. They don’t do hot drinks! My coat and gloves are soaked. They only do one size of pizza. 14 euro. Enough for 2. I finish it. The guy cooking the pizzas has a chat and wishes me luck getting to Santander. He recommends a stop. I tell him I will call in. If the weather was better I would.

I wander around and then decide to head off. The rain has subsided. There is a mountain road N623. It might be better than the dual carriageway, it’s mostly in the valley so sheltered from the wind (it is also an attempt to change focus from dark thoughts that niggle away). To get to the 623 I have to use a dual carriageway.

The side winds are frightening. I am leaning to go in a straight line. This is horrible. Luckily the roads are empty so being blown into another lane has less chance of consequences.

I turn off onto the N623. Initially the wind calms and then a few sections and it is back to being a matter of survival. I can see mountains up in front. The road carves through the huge lumps of rock. It is much more enjoyable. The winds are still an issue.

It is like a small scale grand canyon. The road changes again. Climbs higher. The mist soaks me again. I am torn between getting the hammer down and getting to the port before the weather turns for the worse or taking my time and accepting whatever comes.

I reach Santander. My worse fears, as per typical didn’t come to fruition, it was not a pleasant journey however.

I call in at a small cafe for a coffee (don’t even bother with tea anymore) and then on to find the port.

I manage to get on early and find my room. 8 x 8 ft with no window. Marvelous. I take a walk. I sit talking to couple but catch the eye of a familiar face. I have no idea who it is. So I ask. “Mate, I am sorry to interrupt but I know you …”

It’s Mick Extance!. He has just done the Dakar Rally (8th time?). He is 57 and recovered from a brain tumor 3 years ago. I sit and talk with him for a good hour. I read about him only a few weeks ago.

The Dakar is a race that people die trying to complete. The off-road equivalent of the TT maybe.

I met Mick maybe 5 or 6 years ago doing his off road course in Wales. One of the many brilliant gifts that my wife has got me over the years. I need to go again.

The ferry is currently full of people complaining of how bad the crossing is … compared to last week mate … Lilley pond. It’s the sea. It has waves.

Oh By The Way, that Michael Dunlop inside information I mentioned last week… Revealed today. He’ll be riding the V4 Duke at the IoM TT. I had no intention of going, now I have every reason to go. Hicky, Mickey, Deano and McPint on competitive bikes. What a TT that will be. Better than 92′ ? I will not miss that!