Wow what a baptism of fire my first tour of the season was, struck down with ‘Man Flu’ that would have stuck a lesser man down, which developed into a chest infection making the first six days ‘challenging’.

The clients were all mustered and correct in Plymouth for the ferry trip to Santander, which is always a bonus if you are running a tour. The group was made up of couples and single riders with a majority having met on a previous tour last year so breaking the ice was not going to be a problem. Quickly the ‘other’ clients were sucked along by the enthusiasm of the others and with a minor mishap of a dropped bike we boarded the ship ready to depart.

The trip to Spain would take about 22 hours travelling down through the Bay of Biscay which can be a bit of a rough ride but for this tour on both ferry rides, Poseidon was kind to us… When I say kind obviously that should be clarified with a couple of people feeling under the weather but in general, everyone was OK.

Once off the ferry, we were greeted by strong sunshine for our short ride to the hotel taking in the edges of the Picos.

Riders departed the next morning for our first days riding into the Picos, which had us all dodging cyclists and cattle, at one point being chased by a cow that was trying to get back across the road to her calf.

As usual GPS issues made for interesting routes, which is what makes these tours so special, and such an adventure.

Days flowed into days with seemingly endless twisty roads and stunning views to keep both riders and pillions interested. Hotels provided good accommodation and food as usual catering for all tastes with one hotel providing an exhibition of local dancing for the guests.

Socialising plays its part in any tour both with the people on the tour and with the characters you meet along the way including a group of German ladies who it would seem have been happy to have jumped on one of our bikes for a day to ease their aching legs while walking along the Camino de Santiago which is a pilgrimage made across the mountains of France and Spain culminating in Santiago de Compostela. Two nights in Santiago de Compostela and either a trip to the city or a trip out to the lighthouse at Cape Finisterre by means of a circular route.

Portugal as always provides good roads as well as some challenging roads but non-the-less cracking riding around the mountains of Serra Da Estrela.

Unfortunately, trips have to come to an end but ours meant yet more riding through northern Portugal and back into Spain and even more riding in the twisty Picos mountain’s that have some amazing long sweeping bends before arriving back at the ferry terminal in Santander for our return journey to Plymouth.

Seas were calm beer was cold and stories told about roads others had missed (thanks, Garmin and Tom Tom et al) which are always better than any other roads…

Now when is the next tour, oh yes Norway in August!

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