Last time I posted was late at night from a roadside hostel at Vilodrigo, somewhere near Burgos in Spain. That was a thousand miles and a few days ago, and it’s all a bit of a blur.
Jose Lucas and his team at Ducati Lisboa serviced the Multistrada on Wednesday afternoon, but the panniers still hadn’t been released by customs. Next morning we found out why; they were locked, and the keys were with the bike. The customs inspector wouldn’t release them without looking inside. ‘Bring the keys to us at 2.30pm’ they said, ‘and then we’ll release them.’
So on Thursday afternoon, outside the Fedex building in Lisbon we got the panniers, fitted them, stuffed my clobber into them (though later I realised that I’d forgotten the liner to my suit) and roared off north, towards Spain, France and the UK. It was 3.30pm, and I needed to be at St. Malo, to catch the 08.30pm ferry the following evening. That’s 1883.5 kilometres (1170 miles) away. Best crack on.
The Multistrada is great at destroying distance. The first objective was the Portugese border, but as the sun fell it got colder. First I flicked on the heated grips, and then I stopped to put the lining in my suit. Oh, where’s the lining? We refuelled at the border having covered 350 km. That’s a decent start.
Then into Spain. It was a moonless and cloudless night, properly black. Fortunately the Multistrada headlight is ace. The highlight of he evening ride was romping past Salamanca, where the cathedrals were lit up against the night sky. By Valladolid the moon was rising too. Best keep going. Until finally we coasted to a halt at Vilodrigo, ate some supper, drank a glass of red wine and went to sleep. 700km by bedtime. Not bad.
Next day we continued north, crossing the border at San Sebastian and zooming up the French autoroutes past Bordeaux to Nantes. Which is just one 21 word sentence to deal with over 500 miles (834km), eight hours, two motorway sandwiches, a chocolate brownie, an apple, some water, three coffees and two more fuel stops.
The last 125 miles to the ferry were the worst. It was dark, it was raining, the roads were unlit and there was a huge traffic jam at Rennes. Still we made it to St Malo at 7.00pm and were one of the first to board the ferry. Apparently it was quite a rough crossing. I wouldn’t know, I slept through the whole thing.
Next day was an easy two and a half hour, 150 mile wriggle to the NEC. I stopped for breakfast with my brother (who’s wife Trisha posed for a picture with the bike in her Ducati jacket) and arrived at Motorcycle Live at 11.30am. The bike went on display on the Ducati stand (its there till 27 November). I went and had a lie-down.
Now that I’ve recovered I’m looking forward to the next leg and another ferry crossing. We’re off to the Isle of Man on 1 December to hand the bike over to Timo to do the next leg back to Bologna.