2022 Tour

Post Covid 19 – New adventure!

It has been a challenging two years. Various lockdowns and waves of Covid caused me to cancel road trips in 2020 and 2021. So here we are in 2022 and finally borders are open, and I will be soon on my way south! It has been far too long since the last road trip! I have planned a nice route which is roughly 1,300 miles. I may need to modify the route as needed as I am aware of major wildfires on the route.

Wildfires in the Aquitaine region may be my first diversion. Follow this link for more information. France firefighters battle ‘monster’ wildfire near Bordeaux – BBC News

This is my route map. I am aiming to complete the ride in 17 days on the road. I will be taking some days off on the way.

Day 1 – A few weeks before the main ride 🙂

This is my SL6. Early start on a train up to London Waterloo so I could start leg 1

Trafalgar Square is the start. Currently set up as a fan-zone for the Womens Euro Football. (Great result for England by the way!)

OK, we cannot do “London to Gib” without adding Buck House to the route!  Queen was not home, so I could not drop in for a strong Americano and Cake!

Nearly at my destination with about 10 miles to go. Legs are getting a bit stiff now as its been a long day. Weather was kind to me. Mainly an overcast ride, but sun popped out when I arrived at the “Park Tavern” in Gosport to rehydrate!

Leg 2 tomorrow
Tomorrow evening, I will be setting off to France and then Day 2 of the ride will begin from St Malo and Redon. Its kind of worth reflecting on what I have not been on a road tour since 2019.

The graphic below (sourced from the Financial Times) show the various covid waves we went through since the summer of 2020. The red circled areas show an uptick in cases. At the time we had the massive risk of lockdowns and quarantine hotels. So this risk was not something I wanted to take on. So a month before I was due to go in 2020 and 2021, I cancelled.

The current trend is down. Long may it continue!

This is a continuation of the London Leg a few weeks ago. Now on my touring bike!

So, its goodbye to the UK for a while. Nice meal on the ship and a good nights sleep.

This has definitely not been the easiest ride in my life! 98 miles covered today and it was hot and full of undulating hills. I made it to the hotel just before 2100, so no food. Tomorrow there will be consequences as riding 85 miles on empty is not going to be easy. The Hotels are booked for another three days, so big mistake on one hand but at least I secure rooms as they can be hard to find this time of year. After Arcachon, I will be booking one day at time only.

Day 2

For the very first time in my life, a passport stamp from France. Another Brexshit benefit. People that know me are aware that I hated the idea of Brexshit. So I will just leave that right there. Rant over!

Dinan is an amazing place. This was the first coffee stop. One day I will return by yacht !

This is what French Cycling is all about!

Day 3
After 98 miles and no food, the poor weather forecast called for a Plan B. So today I have used a train to cover most of the miles. Tomorrow, I have a train booked to get me to Rochefort. From there is about 35 miles to Soulac. From there I am hoping for no more plan B!


You just cannot make this stuff up!  Just a mile down the road is a Pizza machine. Wish I had known about this wonderful thing last night!

New tires. I was hoping that this might be my very first trip without a puncture…. Wrong!

Train to the rescue. All fine until I got to Nantes. The next train charged me €20 extra for my bike!
Day 4 (and just about recovered from Day 2!) ~
Energy levels now back where they need to be after taking  a few easy days. Train used this morning to get me a little further South with just over 40 miles cycled. Tomorrow I am back in track with a 60 mile ride planned. Route map of todays adventure where I went exploring a bit. Photos after the maps.

This is just south of Rochefort. As there was no hills, I found this man made hill to climb.

The road to Royan is a lot more smooth than last time. Nice shoulder for cyclists!

Welcome to Royan. Twin town with Gosport where I live 🙂

Like Gosport Royan has a ferry which goes to the other side. €4 per passenger, cycles are free. Given the 5.5 KM distance compared to the .5km at €3.41 for the Gosport Ferry. If the Gosport Ferry Company was running this route in the same rate per KM, it would cost over €30!  #Ripoffbritain

Soulac is the destination for the day. Been coming here since 1979. Still love the place!

Washing done for the day!  Will be dry for the morning!

Day 5 – with another small boat ride!

It was great to spend a night in Soulac. Laid back place with lots of places to eat good food. After Dinner. a nice view out to sea. 


Back on road this morning with a little wandering round Soulac before setting off South. My next trip in this direction will definitely include a longer stay.

The roads in France are mostly good, and today not too busy. 

Off the main road for a few miles. In the Medoc region, its normally many miles of pine trees. But here is the proof that other things grow here as well. Vines in Medoc is for real !

As reported in the press, there have been wild fires in SW France. This is a small area but quite a large fire occurred south of Arcachon in July 2022!  Fires happen all the time. Last time I passed this way in 2019, a similar burnt area now has new young trees growing.

Taking a short break at a picnic table near an old railway station. Just behind the tree (and my bike) you can see the fully paved track. It runs 30 miles south from Hourtin to Arcachon Bay.

Arcachon is famous for its sand dunes. The massive fire in July was not that far on the other side. The ride ended at Cap de la Ferret. Boat ride to Arcachon where I found a nice hotel close to the marina. (Hot Top! Marina Restaurant servers great food but a tad expensive.

Day 6 – Hard going!
What is a “Flope”?  Its a cycling term for a long road that gently inclines but gives the impression of being flat (Flope comes from False Slope). Today I was on a flope for many miles. A slight head wind as well as a very rough surface adds friction and just makes life more difficult. So this have been quite a tiring day.


The purpose of a holiday is get get away from the office. Part of my day job is to manage satellite technology and it looks like somebody have decided to put a teleport in the Arcachon airfield (Mostly small private aircraft). Looking at the dishes, they are not doing much work!

Here I am on the Pilgrimage route. Picture shows a slightly improved road surface!

A final pic for the day – about 20 KM from the hotel!

Speaking of hotels,  I was a bit tired the previous night and booked a non changeable  room  for a night in September. Very frustrating that I had pay again for the correct date.

Day 7 – its wet and where its not wet its very wet!
About 15 miles cycled today.  Massive thunder and lightning and heavy rain. Managed to get as far as Dax where I used the train to get a lift to Irun. Weather forecast looks better for Tuesday.

After the hard ride yesterday, a break was a useful thing 🙂

Day 8 – New routing 🙂
The great thing about a road trip is that I can do exactly as I please. The intention was to go south to Pamplona. Its a nice route and has the hills to present a challenge.  But I decided to go from Irun and head SW and I was not disappointed. It has a few hills as I like a challenge, but much of the route is on dedicated cycleways – fully tarmac. The route also winds through many villages so getting a water top up is dead easy.

Also big shout out to the IBIS hotel in Irun. They stored my bike for the night and the breakfast was just what I needed to send me on my way. Weather conditions a great improvement on yesterday!

Great start to the day. View from the petrol station where I topped up with cool water for the ride.

Amazing views along the way…

This is not the sort of hill I have in mind to cycle up!

Another pit stop for water. The petrol station has been greenwashed with AstroTurf!

And this is part of the route – old rail track dedicated for cycling.

Day 9 with a shitty start
After the amazing weather from yesterday, today I got wet!  Also motivation was not easy as I was presented with hills before I had time to warm up. But eventually things improved after such a rotten start. At the end of  70 miles, it was nice to see that the hotel room had a bath!

This where I got wet!

Second big hill. To get to this hill, I had to go down from the first hill!

Wet weather rig!

By lunch, weather was better and the ride more flat. Some scenic parts through a gorge.

My first bull of the trip. The Osborne Bull is famous and there are 72 across Spain. It was originally set up to advertise a product. Back in the 1970s when I first went to Spain, the roadsides were cluttered with ugly adverts. In the 1980s, the adverts were banned, but after much campaigning, the bull stayed. See Osborne bull – Wikipedia for more information.

Day 10 – Let the train take the strain!
Undercarriage is a bit sore, so taking a day off. As I want to spend more time in other places along the way, I have hit the fast forward button and taken the train 110 miles SW to Valladolid.

In future years, I think I will be doing a bit more of a train/cycle combination as I can get to see plenty of new places and still do some respectable cycling distances.


Day 11 – The start of a long wheel saga 🙁
Day off to a good start. The hotel in Valladolid was great and I never cease to be impressed by the cycle lanes. The local drivers give plenty of space on the roads which is really nice compared to the culture wars we have in the UK.

At mile 45 things got complicated as a spoke snapped at mile 45. Given the lack of cycle shops in this part of the world, I am likely to be cycling over a 100 miles with wobbly wheel!
Day off to a good start. The hotel in Valladolid was great and I never cease to be impressed by the cycle lanes. The local drivers give plenty of space on the roads which is really nice compared to the culture wars we have in the UK.

At mile 45 things got complicated as a spoke snapped at mile 45. Given the lack of cycle shops in this part of the world, I am likely to be cycling over a 100 miles with wobbly wheel!

Day starts off with Coffee and the route set into GPS. Today I am up for 77 miles

Along the way, there vineyards. This set of vines come with Cheese!

And this Bodega has the empty bottles ready to be filled and shipped to my famous wine rack!

Mile 45 and I have to slow things down due to this wee problem!

Alba de Tormes. nice evening for a meal and a glass of wine!

Day 12 – Give your wheel a wobble!
So with the wobbly wheel I need to slow things down. The trip I would normally do in one day is going to take two.

Out on the road and a bit chilly to start with. In this part of Spain, the altitude is fairly high. Things do start to warm up. Komoot is the planning tool I use and the first part of the ride is new to me. So far surface is good.

The issue with Komoot is that it does take you down minor roads. This surface is not what I needed with a wobbly wheel. Next time I pass this way, I will take my normal routing.

El Barco is a nice town, but sadly no cycle shops. 40 more miles on the wobbly wheel tomorrow.

Day 12 – Absolutely Stunning! (But I still have a wobble)
Today, I make my way through the Valle to Jerte. I will just let the pictures do the talking!

Today, my Garmin 520 packed up. As I knew where I was going, the Garming Oregon 300 was switched off. The key issue with the 520 is the charging port. Quite a well-known issue and when I look for a replacement GPS hopefully, I can find a unit that supports induction charging. So on the Strava map, the route is accurate, but ignore the times.
Today, I make my way through the Valle to Jerte. I will just let the pictures do the talking!

Today, my Garmin 520 packed up. As I knew where I was going, the Garming Oregon 300 was switched off. The key issue with the 520 is the charging port. Quite a well-known issue and when I look for a replacement GPS hopefully, I can find a unit that supports induction charging. So on the Strava map, the route is accurate, but ignore the times.

Filling up with cool spring water

A chilly start to the ride due to the altitude !

Day 14 – The wobble ends here (for now)
My wheel is now fixed. The thing I love about local cycle shops is that they are often run by cyclist, and they will do their very best to get customers back on the road. Not only did the mechanic fix the broken spoke, but he also checked the breaks and adjusted the gears, so they changed more smoothly. Great attention to detail and top-notch service.  Here is a link to the shop website for those who may need a good bike shop as they pass through this area! Inicio | Bicicletas Kilómetro.0 – Bicicletas Kilómetro.0 (bicicletaskilometrocero.com)

The ride was a short 50 miles as I had no idea what time I would get away. The route to Trujillo took me through one of Spain’s amazing national parks. See pictures below the map.

Open bike surgery under way after more than 100 miles on a wobbly wheel.

Helicopter with water bag. Must be a wild fire some place!

The hills of Extremadura.

National park. Last time I passed this way in 2014, water levels were much higher

I just love these long road shots. It shows the journey of freedom. This one may end up on my wall at home.

Day 15
So at day 15 fitness levels are back where they need to be, so coping with the hills as well as I did on my last tour in 2019. Finger crossed that we keep covid-19 under control and I get to comb back to Spain for another tour in 2023.

My flight back to the UK is on the 15th, so I have 8 days on the road if I were to arrive in La Linea on the 14th. Next stop is Montemolin where I plan to spend two nights. From there it normally takes a further three days to get to Gib, so I have a bit of flexibility to take a longer route and maybe explore some new places along way 🙂

The day started off very grey, but the forecast was for the cloud to burn off, which it did by midday. This picture is of the main plaza in Trujillo. I just love the way these great open places are used by people to mix, socialize, eat and drink. Cars are banned. We need to reclaim more spaces in the UK in same way for people to enjoy the Al Fresco life.

The Miajardas area of Spain is a major producer of tomato products. The farming operation here is massive, but also there are quite a few processing plants where the tomatoes are canned as various products.

Day 16 – The return of the wheel wobble!
The day gets off to a great start. A nice route to Montemolin planned which takes in some amazing views. After a short stop at Hornachos (Horny Nachos!) for lunch, I start to roll down a hill and then there is a loud crack from my rear wheel. We are back to broken spoke and a wobbly wheel. So my plan to extend the distance over a few days have changed completely! I am going to take things slower and take the direct route to Gib. This is frustrating but I will make the best of it.

From Montemolin, I would expect to cover the 180 miles over three days, so now I will do it in four to allow for the wobbly wheel. For my 2023 tour, I will be changing out the wheel with a model that is more reliable and does not need the service of a full workshop to fix.

So here is the map and pictured from leg 16. Tomorrow, I will go for a walk, sit by the pool and chill! Back on the road Friday!

Near to my departure hotel, I passed through a lake (created by a dam nearby). Spain have done this is quite a few places as there is a massive need for water to irrigate the farming industry. This lake is similar to others I have passed along the way where water levels are lower than normal.

Horny Nachos Mountain (Hornachos is the real name). This is the view near the start of my 100KM ride. My route will take me through a valley which passes through the middle of the hills. Towards the end of the ride, these hills are well visible from the other side !

A very welcome site!  Much of the ride on a wobbly wheel!  I am just about ready for a hot tub and a beer!  In fact, I had 6 (But they were only 20cl bottles. Hardly seems worth the effort to bottle beer in a size which is marginally larger than a thimble!

And here is Montemolin High Street. In the process of being closed off so that tables an be set out for people to drink and eat.

Day 17 – The passing of Queen Elizabeth II
It was great to have a day in Montemolin to chill, but there was sad news from the UK about the death of Queen Elizabeth II. She has been a monarch for all of my life. Her service ethic is something many politicians could learn.

The route South was along one of the “N” roads I have traveled before, so not too many pictures as I have taken plenty from previous tours.

The day starts with a big climb. Never good news as I normally like to be on the bike for a good 30 mins of riding before big hills, but here I am in Spain. They do hills here!  This picture looking back at Montemolin. Hope to return next year!

Day 18 – Wobbling along
This is probably the longest route I have ever done, so with fitness levels not quite where they should have been at the start of the ride, it’s a good thing that I shaved off 250 – 300 miles in France and North Spain as this would have been very tight, especially with the bike mechanical issues!

I still have wobbly wheel. So short distances not exceeding much more than 50 miles. I am hoping that the wheel will hold out until the end.

Today’s route takes me through Seville and then a further 20 miles. It was really hot after Seville, so was glad that there were plenty of cafes and petrol stations along the way so I could top up with water and grab a can of coke.
Just to the North East of Seville is a Solar Power plant. On previous trips along this road, from the distance I though the white lights was the sun catching the top of a suspension bridge?  Well with the sun in a different position, there should be no reflection, so this is something else. This is a solar power plant and mirrors adjust to focus the energy on two towers. This is very similar to the power plant I drove past on a road tour in the USA (Mojave Desert – On the road to LA from Las Vagas)

I can never resist a sunset !
Traffic cops in Andalucia are environmentally friendly. This car is electric and its good to see the roads patrolled. Yesterday afternoon. I was about 5 miles from the hotel and had paused to pour some water over me. The Traffic cops stopped as asked me if all was well. Its brilliant that these public servants are keeping an eye out for people’s welfare as well as their law enforcement duties!

Day 19 – 1000 miles reached.

So last but one leg and two miles in, I get to 1000 miles (Thats all cycling and does not include the train bits!). The full route today was not new to me. After Arcos, a very strong headwind which made life very tough going. Was great to get to the hotel. A glass of very cold beer did not last long at all!

Just a few miles from Arcos de la Frontiera, is a dried-out riverbed. Spain is suffering from a severe drought where many rivers are like this, and lakes have dropped by a few meters.

Day 20 – Final leg – Its a wrap (and yes the wheel still wobbles!
This has been an amazing trip with 1095 miles cycled (0r 1752 KM). I also covered 258 miles by train earlier on in the route. The train combination is really interesting and is likely to feature in my tour next year so that I can cut out some of the boring parts and spend a bit more time in some areas.

The ride today was not easy. The section of old N Road is long and short of coffee stops or places to top up with water. I have been down this route before and is always hard work. I carried extra water so I would not run out before getting to the first petrol station at Los Barios,

Shortly after departing Paterna is this amazing view. I filmed the ride down the hill so you will see this in the tour video. Weather looks fine ahead, but black clouds are building up behind me. Luckily all I had on the way as a few rain drops.  The real rain started as I ordered my first beer in Marina Bay, Gib.

The roads are mainly good in Spain. This was a main route down to Algeciras from the north but no longer maintained due to a motorway which follows the same route. As you can see from the crevasse,  it’s very important to pay attention!

Another reason to pay attention is that very occasionally you may find other road users along the way. I had no idea if this guy was dead or alive. I was not going to find out either!

Just outside of La Linea, the ride starts to get very industrial.

And here is the rock where I ended up 20 mins later.

In a post Brexshit world, the routine has changed at the border. On the UK side, passports no longer checked as Gibraltar is part of Schengen. Only customs are present as Gib is still a duty-free zone. Gibraltarians and EU nationals can come and go as they please on presentation of an ID card to the Spanish authorities. For UK passport holders the Spanish will stamp you in and out of Spain. For regular visitors to the EU, I can see passports filling up well before the 10-year expiry date !

Here is a map of the full route