30 September 2011
The first 250 miles of this 65th day of my Turkey motorcycle tour was simple. Another short section of the Route Napoleon before a motorway blast west loosely following the Mediterranean Coast.
I’ve got to hand it to the French. Their motorways are great – and not completely boring like those in the UK. If you need to get somewhere quick in France take the motorways. There are plenty of tolls though – but they are not as frequent as they are in Macedonia. And they are all automated – no people to collect your money.
But paying tolls when riding a motorcycle is a pain. Gloves make eveything hard. They make you super clumsy. I take mine off when there is a toll to pay or else it’s impossible. Sometimes the cars behind me back up – but that’s their problem.
There were quite a few tolls today but they were worth it. I made it almost right across the south of France to Carcassonne by 1330. Time for a break and a sandwich, then the Pyrenees.
Today was another high mileage day. I did about 380 miles (610km) by the time I parked the bike up at the end of the day. But the last bit was in the Pyrenees – my first time in this part of the world.
The climb was gradual – not like the Alps which are immediately steep. And the scenery was different. France is very diverse. Before I knew it I was at 1,600m.
It was a shame the road surface was not better. There were elements of Turkey here and caution was necessary – meaning the last 100 miles took much longer than suggested by the GPS – but these roads were treacherous – almost like the locals had put fine gravel on the corners to slow the bikers down. If this was the case they had achieved their desired result.
And it was hotter today in comparison to my recent experience in the Alps. High 20’s most of the way. And with only winter gloves now it was a little uncomfortable. Sweaty hands are terrible, making the gloves almost impossible to get on or off. I’ll have to get a new pair of summer gloves if the temperatures stay like this.
Finally I got to the border with Andorra. Wikipedia describes this as a principality but I’m not sure what this means. I’ll take it as a new country. It’s only small but first impressions are good. The road surface is first class, like in Spain. There are plenty of ski resorts and tunnels like Austria. But this place looks more modern and very clean – it must be incredible in winter when covered in pure white snow. I went through one tunnel and skipped the next to be rewarded by a high mountain pass.
Not far now to the capital Andorra la Vella. I’m looking forward to this. Some pictures tomorrow.
Distance travelled today 381 miles (613km), cumulative 10,460 miles (16,834km).