Two mates roped me into my first foreign bike trip and we decided to adopt a light touch to forward planning. A night round at mine with a few beers poring over a family atlas let us throw together a route and rough itinerary.
And that was all that was needed. We rolled off the ferry in Santander and apart from slowing for the occasional sleepy village straight out of a spaghetti western back lot, our progress was at first smooth and uninterrupted. Under glorious Spanish skies we rode first south and then east keeping the foothills of the Pyrenees to our north, enjoying the kind of days when the sheer thrill and delight of riding a bike becomes almost tangible.
Soon the roads became narrower and twistier as we began to climb into the Pyrenees with hairpins, undulations and ever changing road surfaces ganging up to slow our progress. Then we were into France and by the time we reached Carcassonne we were riding in a torrential downpour.
And so it went on: we weaved our way back through France, with sunshine highs and occasional downpour lows. Yes, we made mistakes in preparation and execution, but we managed with an approach that would have fitted on the back of a small fag packet. We didn’t give a great deal of thought to routes, accommodation, conditions, distances and even the choice of bikes. But the bottom line is that all three of us had an unforgettable and thoroughly enjoyable time.
Three countries, three middle aged bikers, 1300 miles of riding over six days. Go on give it a try. There is a new world of biking out there just waiting for you and your bike to discover.