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  • Writer's pictureFox Valentine

The number of the beast in Spain

Updated: Feb 21, 2020

In actual fact. It all started with the number 16, which was the amount in English pounds that I spent on Green Flag Euro cover just before we set out, and oh am I glad I did.

We set out under the sun on Friday morning from the fortuitously placed Spanish campsite, heading towards Bardenas Reales. A Spanish national park that I've wanted to visit since planning this trip. Bardenas Reales looks for all the world like the Wild West, and I understand that many a spaghetti western has been filmed there. Google it, it's worth a look. The 120 mile trip there was beautiful, good roads and turquoise lakes were very easy on the eye.

Whilst rolling along through beautiful savannah, Lucy asked me over our helmet comms how far we had to go. I immediately stopped, opposite a deserted, and haunting ranch. My odometer read 6666.6, and the satnav reported 6.6 miles to our destination, a small town just before the entrance to Bardenas Reales. I'm not really at all superstitious, but regardless, we rode the next 6.6 miles very carefully. Coming to a stop 6.6 miles up the road, to check on the exact location of the park entrance, I noticed a bit of a wobble as we slowed to a halt. We dismounted. I checked the bike all around. Everything seemed in order, and being close to the maximum load on the rear of the bike, it was not unusual for a slight wobble at low speed, especially on these poor back roads, so we cautiously carried on. 6 tenths of a mile ahead, I felt the wobble again, so we stopped, and this was what we found:

Coming down from the Pyrenees the day before, the road had a few, shall I say, unexpected imperfections. It almost looked like there had been a small earthquake in places. Off to one side of the road, one of the ski resort car parks had lost 20% of their parking spaces due to huge foot deep ripples in the Tarmac. Seemingly, this had taken its toll on the Enfield, and we were going no further. Far too many broken spokes on that wheel.

We moved the bike off of the road. Unpacked some nibbles, and waited 2 hours for a recovery truck, which appeared just as lighting hit the ground on either side of us, and the heavens opened.

Our rescuer was a very jolly local garage owner named Ernesto. He had zero English so thank god for the Google Translate app. We sat in his cab with the storm violently crashing about us, the rain fell in sheets, lightning crackled and the thunder rumbled about. He'd arrived in the nick of time.

As the storm started to recede we loaded the bike on the back of the truck. There were a few hairy moments as poor old Enfield was ratcheted on and we left the scene of the strange 666 breakdown. Unfortunately we were only minutes away from Bardenas Reales, point 6 of a mile in fact, so that will have to be a sight for another day, another trip. So on a different sort of adventure we were traveling through the dark rainy night in a truck with Spanish and English insurance companies phoning everyone at regular intervals. We found an English speaking Enfield agent for Spain in of all places Barcelona who could fix the bike on Monday. However how was that going to happen? Negotiations continued.

Ernesto took us to his garage in Tafalla about an hour away. We unloaded poor Enfield very carefully and she stood looking a bit dejected in the middle of the garage. We unloaded all our stuff, our life for those few weeks, next to the bike. Negotiations continued. Ernesto was funny, he described how all the different nationalities reacted to breakdowns the French, English and Germans being very calm and measured with the Spanish having a proper tantrum screaming shouting and threatening bodily harm. It was hilarious watching him communicate this through mime and Spanglish. Ernesto helped us no end, talking to the Spanish part of the insurance company and entertaining us. He was so helpful and went out of his way hanging on while we sorted ourselves out. We offered him a tip which he refused saying that it was just the way he was and he liked helping out. If you break down in Spain I recommend you do so near Ernesto in Tafulla, he'll keep you giggling when it could seem quite dire.

Eventually a plan was formed the insurance company was going to put us up on a hotel in Pamplona near by and hang onto the bike with Ernesto till Monday. A taxi arrived and us, minus tent, sleeping bag, cooking stuff and of course poor Enfield we were off. Pamplona is where they do the big bull running so we were expecting somewhere old, but we drove into to a big city and into an industrial estate where the Holiday Inn was. It was about midnight and the reception was full of about 10 little girls and twenty adults. The noise was deafening as the Spanish seem to like to talk VERY LOUDLY and all at the same time. That night we got our heads down after a long crazy day. Saturday morning we had a decision to make, green flag would either put us up in a hotel or give us a hire car till the bike was fixed. So to cut a long story short we took the car and drove down to Barcelona so we can speak to Alex, the Enfield agent on Monday and get parts sorted out for poor old Enfield. I now write this from a balcony in the Rambla in Barcelona, thanks to for their last minute bargains! You don't have to let a disaster stay a disaster!

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