We arrived in Plymouth on time even though we had set off an hour late from Santander, what a difference this crossing was compared to the first one. This was dead calm, like a mill pond in comparison but the crossing going over was enough to put anyone off using the ferry for good. How one week or even one day can change what you think about sea travel. It was a great trip back and a later evening sailing is so much better than an early morning crossing.
The only trouble is, we had to ride back in the dark, in the UK, congested roads immediately, in the bloody rain, cold and wind.
So we headed off out of the port and got diverted straight away getting stuck in rush hour traffic, fan-bloody-tastic! The weather was not kind as we rode up the A38 to the M5 and made our way to a fuel stop, followed by a quick break, followed by another stop to warm up and have some hot coffee.
As we headed north the weather improved and we saw drier roads and no rain. Still very cold in comparison to where we had just come from, what a difference a day makes, 25 degrees and a beer the night before sat outside in a T Shirt. Now it was a base layer, t-shirt, sweatshirt, jacket and waterproofs, just to keep some kind of warmth in.
We split up from junction 5 on the M5 as we all had different destinations, everyone peeled off and continued their own journey to get home before midnight for a well deserved rest and sleep.
The next day or so would be used to unpack, wash the bike, wash clothes and relax. I was still in shit state and should not have travelled abroad, it was much tougher than I had ever imagined and it took it out of me.
About the trip
A great trip with lots of miles covered, everyone performed well above what they personally expected and it was more demanding than a day out around the UK. It was definitely a learning experience for everyone in more ways than one. I will never do another tour to Spain or Portugal with a group in October, as the weather is turning by then, the ferry crossing was horrendous and it gets dark early and very quickly. Sometimes these things are not a good combination with new tourers.
The perception before leaving on the first big tour is that it is just a ride from one place to the next. In reality, that is all it is but it is hard work at times and demandingly tough. If the weather is against you or you leave late, then you are up against time all day and once lost it is very difficult to catch up on lost time and ground.
We always aim to be travelling 50 miles per hour every hour, this is for the whole day. So a 350 mile day would typically be 7-8 hours of riding. There are times where the roads are faster than this and you can make up ground or get off to a good start, especially if you use a motorway or dual carriageways for an hour or two.
Everyone was in good form and they thoroughly enjoyed their first time on a big trip, in fact the three guys have since toured many times. My aim has always been to pass on my knowledge and help riders to have the confidence to do it on their own, these guys have certainly done that and I consider my job done – it always makes me smile to see our trained riders venture off and do it on their own, that’s what it is all about for me.
I would always say, start off with smaller tours. Gain confidence and ability, understand what it is you want to do and then organise your own tours that suit you. Our tours are riding tours, not sight seeing trips, we deliver advanced training and guidance. We don’t teach people to point and shoot a camera at every nice scenic view, if you want that then our training tours are not for you.