Ávila was not the original route I had planned – but seemed like a good idea to take in more of Spain’s N roads – and as a bonus I was rewarded with a police escort!
I pulled out of the hotel garage in Segovia around 11am on Friday morning having quickly worked out that I could get pretty much all the way to Valdepeñas on N roads – firstly the N-110 south-west to Ávila, steering clear of the autovia. The weather had cleared somewhat but was still a little overcast and chilly, perfect for me as the winter lining was still fitted inside my motorcycle kit. I didn’t have any room on the bike to store it so I’d be wearing it all the way to the Costa del Sol – removing it only once I’d reach my base in Benalmádena. I’d work out how to fit in into my luggage later – assuming it would be superfluous for the ride back to the UK in a months time (which I’d not yet planned or given much thought to).
I had more trouble getting out of Segovia and took a couple of wrong turns finding my way to the start of the N-110 – sometimes the GPS instructions are a little confusing especially when it comes to roundabout exits. Nonetheless not too much time was lost and I was soon on the N-110 headed for Ávila. I’d read somewhere that in that part of Spain the two must see cities were Segovia and Ávila, the latter known for it’s imposing city walls comprising eight monumental gates. I’d stop quickly when I arrived, get a couple of photos and be on my way south towards Toledo – maybe even grab a bite to eat if I could find something. Hadn’t really worked out any details, and a police escort was not on my agenda.
Around noon I was making my way though the outskirts of Ávila searching for clues that would lead me to old city within the imposing walls and monumental gates. Eventually I saw on my left a narrow cobblestone road leading up a slight incline – this must be the way – so that’s where I headed. Here’s how it looked and my thoughts as I approached these incredibly huge medieval walls …
I’m so glad I ventured in, albeit with a false start. Unfortunately this was the easy part – now comes the reality. Where to pull over so I can get some photos and maybe some lunch? Finding a somewhere to park a motorcycle is always pretty easy – just look for a plaza or pavement with enough room to get in and out, where you can’t get parked in and won’t get clamped or towed away. Unfortunately for me I wasn’t too familiar with Ávila’s parking regulations and having found somewhere to stop for a photo opportunity there all of a sudden seemed to be police everywhere.
I sort of panicked and just thought of getting back on the bike and getting out of there. But how? Can’t go back on the one-way streets I came in on. A couple of Spain’s finest were approaching me now as I walked over over towards the grand cathedral. Getting more flustered, I asked them for directions out of the old walled city, thinking this would buy me some time. No problems was their reply, follow us and we will show you the way out – as they were heading for their police car. Damn! I should have asked them if I could park there for 10 mins while I took some photos and programmed my GPS to take me on towards Toledo. Too late now.
Sensing an opportunity I asked them if they could take my photo in front of the cathedral – and they were only too happy to oblige. That’s their police vehicle in the background …
Pretty soon I was back on the Family Truckster with the two very nice policeman waiting for me in their vehicle, ready to show me how to get of this magnificent walled city. By the time I faffed around getting my earplugs in, sunglasses and helmet on, bike started, Bluetooth headset connected, setting the GPS for my overnight destination etc there was no time to set up my GoPro (which I had removed from its housing and mount when I parked earlier).
After waiting patiently for me to get my act together for a couple of minutes I was soon in first gear and easing out the clutch – my police escort out of Ávila was underway. How I wish I had a video of this – as proof of my police escort and also to show off more of Ávila. After a couple of minutes we exited the walled city but they kept going, ensuring that I made it onto the road that would take me south-east and around Toledo to my hotel in Valdepeñas. They waved me goodbye when they thought it impossible for me to get lost. They were really nice guys and ever so helpful.
Too helpful really – I would have liked to spend a little more time in Ávila. I should have dealt with that situation far better – I reckon they would have let me park there for as long as I wanted to if I’d only asked them – or directed me somewhere close by that I could park for a while. Will know better for next time.
Anyway, must move on on this now beautiful spring afternoon in central Spain. There are roads to ride and hotels to find. And what a road I would soon find myself on – in near perfect riding conditions on a near perfect road. It was one of those afternoons when I almost became part of the Family Truckster as we glided around whatever long sweeping bends we encountered. This is what keeps me in Europe and why touring on a motorcycle is so captivating.
See you next time on the N-403 somewhere near Embalse de El Burguillo.