Day 2: a ‘circuit’ of Navarre
Blog log: 285.5 kilometres ridden today – 673 total so far.
I should have known better; clouds rolling over mountain passes mean only one thing – rain on the far side and fog at the ‘summit’! But ever onwards ever upwards. My plan was ro reach the coast at Cabo Higar, the furthest extreme of the Pyrenees, to ‘begin’ my voyage to Punta de Tarifa, the southernmost point in Peninsular Spain, by way of as many Pyrenean passes as I could find.
But once over onto the French side I encountered the thickest, and coldest, fog I’ve seen since January. Worse, the road, wide and in immaculate condition in Spain – as usual it has to be said! – instantly deteriorated into a rough, narrow and scantily marked ‘C’ class road. I wasn’t looking for crash barriers but some sort of indication as to where the road ended and the abyss – for surely that was what was out there in the gloom! – begain would have been nice. This was seriously scary, visibility down to less than five metres and seriously sharp hairpin bends the road just ‘disappeared’ into the gloom.
After too much of this I passed into the forest where the fog turned to drizzle and I reckoned that this was it as far as the French side was concerned. While I was looking for a place to turn – the road was that narrow! – I passed another biker that I thought must be local as he was wearing jeans. A few K’s back up the trail I found the same guy sitting on his Triumph T160 Trident busily punching a text into his mobile. He was totally lost and furthermore had hardly a single working light bulb. So I suggested we rode over the top together into the sun and sort things from there.
Amazing world: going back the visibility was even worse and at the hairpins near the summit the road literally disappeared, catching me out three times. I’m sure that if it weren’t for my brake lights my companion would have gone over the edge and that would have been and end of him. As it was we carried on right over the pass and down some miles into the sunlight and away from the cold air – I was soaked right through and feeling seriously cold by then!
Mr Triumph was amazed to find that he was in Spain and began to worry that he’d missed meeting mates in France when there was roar of big bikes coming up from the Spanish side – amazing, his mates screeched to a halt! Big greetings all round as the group, who were all at school together up to the early seventies, renewed their acquaintance.
Time for me to go and I headed west with an idea to cross the Pyrenees where they are lower into the Vallée des Aldudes – no way! So after much needed break at what I thought was a roadside café that turned out to be a smart restaurant – where i had a dish of fish soup to die for! – I decided to run down towards Pamplona and revisit the amazing section of the NA-214 between Navacués and Bugui, a road that inspired me to come back to biking! On the way don’t miss the short section of the original road signposted for the Foz de Arbayún – an amazing viewpoint into the ravine and a fantastic section of hairpin bends!